Did you know that November is Career Development Month? Neither did I. But in this case, ignorance is not bliss… we need to take charge!
A successful career requires some level of management because if we just let it happen, the inevitable bumps may be more painful than the good times.
But how do you manage your career? Doesn’t our success, to an extent, depend on the people and organizations that hire us?
In the 21st century, we should view the development of our careers as being totally in our hands. We make our own success; we can determine our career trajectory and ultimately, our success and satisfaction with our work.
And the best way to do that is by first, setting goals for ourselves, annually. What do we want to accomplish and ideally contribute to our organizations?
How can we achieve some growth and progress on our chosen path? Set such goals, write them down to give them life, and go back and check your progress on a monthly basis.
This is how we take charge of our careers. In fact, this is how we protect ourselves from some of the effects of managers who may be overworked, have unreasonable expectations or a short fuse or, in our opinion, are just plain crazy.
Take charge and responsibility for yourself rather than expecting your boss and company to perform that role.
Second, on an annual basis, you should ask yourself if your current job is for the long haul. Are you still learning? Are you getting constructive feedback? Are you dreading Monday mornings? Most importantly, can you point to accomplishments and contributions that show you have an impact?
The answers to these questions enable you to manage your career. If your thoughts are mostly negative, the time may have come to look elsewhere.
If you’re feeling ambivalent, some good, some not so good, maybe it’s time to look within your organization to see if you can contribute and accomplish in new ways. And if you feel positively and can identify more that you can do in your current position, stick with it, keep going on your current path.
Third, and this is the most practical step, chronicle your accomplishments. Write down (preferably in a succinct way) what you’ve done for the good of your organization. So focus on ways your work enables your company to grow, develop new products or services, generate revenue or save dollars.
Benefits that you gained for yourself (trainings, leadership of outside organizations, etc.) should be at the bottom of your list. Think: “what did I do for them, not me?”
These accomplishments and contributions become evidence that shows your value. And this evidence really should end up on your resume because people get hired largely for the good work they have done. Make it easier for hiring managers to say “look what this person did for XYZ company, I’ll bet they could do that for us… call them!”
These steps are some of the sure-fire ways that you can manage your career.