Throughout my career in HR, I have seen more people leave their jobs for the wrong reasons rather than stay for the right ones.
Personal career management is a continuous process, sometimes misconstrued as a series of independent events. The risk of adopting an “event management” approach is that it can lead to disjointed and potentially unfulfilling outcomes. There are a series of steps in any career journey, and these are interconnected rather than separated.
Career management is most effective when we come to terms with our own unique career journey. As such, it will sometimes be uncomfortable, often great fun, and periodically totally chaotic – No matter how much we may have planned for each and every contingency. Many of us plan a career journey as if it were a day trip, so care needs to be taken during the early stages!
Here are six key steps of effective career management:
Mapping is something we all do all of the time. It’s how we make sense of our surroundings. If we feel lost, we will generally take a closer look at where we are than if we were on familiar territory. Familiarity can breed complacency; consequently, wherever you think you are on your career journey, it is important to re-calibrate your understanding of your strengths, deficits, and true potential.
Wherever you are in your career journey, and whatever your situation, good mapping is good practice. A particular issue is to fully understand what exactly your situation is. This requires reflection before rushing to action. The are many sources of help that provide an invaluable insight into your motives and capability. These things are all too often ignored in the rush to get back into the labor market or to move on. It is particularly important to avoid adopting a scattergun approach to sending out an inadequately prepared CV too soon to the wrong people for inappropriate jobs.
This is the step that provides the opportunity to verify assumptions, and get feedback from others on how you “show up,” along with possible next steps. The essence is about creating a safe environment in which to test out hitherto unthinkable hypotheses on what you would like to happen next and the resources (knowledge, skills, and behaviors) required to do so.
The core elements of any Plan are to begin by defining objectives and benefits. For example, you may currently have the overriding aim of “developing my career by moving on as quickly as possible.” However, it is critical to identify what you want the “Return on Me” to be from your current and future roles. Using this criterion, it may be that, at the very least, you contemplate exploring potential opportunities in your current organization.
Different routes, different outcomes? This is the real time follow on from the back room planning phase where ideas are ready to be tried out. Actively exploring different routes requires the sharing and testing of ideas, and constructively and non-judgmentally processing others perceptions and opinions. It must also draw on your plan. To be successful means staying grounded on the work you will have done to seek (and reflect upon) feedback, and to have a CV that is fit for purpose. Without this, your career journey may take on the characteristics of a circular tour.
4. Demonstrating Competence – Ring ready or ring rusty?
A fundamental element in demonstrating competence is developing a CV that shows your capability and capacity, and ensures the “real” you is present at the interview. Establish goals and targets for job search/career shift, and regularly review progress, potential derailers, hindrances. Without this, nothing will happen!
Getting the job is no push over. That said, all too often, the candidate does not live up to their billing. Failing to match the expectations created through the CV disappoints the potential employer, and the subsequent rejection of a CV or after a poor interview frustrates the individual. Understanding the perceptions and expectations of all the players in the process is critical, along with the message/impression you leave them with.
5. Arriving & Delivering: You’ve got the job. Now the work starts!
Assimilation into a new role during the first 100 days requires both cultural understanding and a focus on delivering what’s required. “Look, listen, and learn” is important. For senior roles, the capability to hit the ground running and deliver results in what may be a very different environment from the one anticipated (or described during the recruitment process) is critical.
6. Consolidating & Reviewing: Using your radar.
Career management does not end with successfully finding a new position, whether as CEO or Graduate trainee. There will be a continuing need to choreograph your own career:
- Focusing on delivery
- Maintaining your channels of communication
- Energetically networking
- And remembering to scan the horizon both within the organization and the market
This post was originally published on an earlier date.
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