Career management relates to how you develop personal and occupational awareness. By utilizing conscious strategies to initiate and participate in self and professional growth you will only strengthen your self-advocacy. Committing to life-long learning and expanding your network of supportive relationships will help you succeed in finding the “why” that motivates you to achieve self-fulfillment, career advancement, and financial stability.
You are your own boss, no matter the vocation. Your career is entirely within your control as well as your actions leading towards your set goals. There may be ups and downs, uncertainties, and unforeseen challenges. But it is how you manage yourself through your wins and losses to persevere that counts and it starts right now.
When exploring careers and choosing an academic path, the focus can be primarily based on either emotionally or monetarily driven decisions. Though professional survival has often been based around goals of financial security, it is equally important to consider personal fulfillment and your unique learning styles in which your strengths are organically empowered.
Start by taking inventory of your interests as they will inevitably have been and will continue to be a motivator for your decisions, so why not harness them to work for you in your career? As a student or alumni your career center is a great resource to point you in the right direction as there are a myriad of assessments and career management templates to help personal realization and growth with step-by-step planning guides to structure your personal goals.
Now that you know what you want out of your career, start setting goals to help you achieve success.
Most professionals will set multi-tiered goals for both short-term and long-term planning. Like many job interviews, you should ask yourself, “Where do I want to be in a year?” or “What do I want to be doing in five years? How about in ten years?” Try to be as clear and definitive as possible with your answers, especially for your short-term goals. Do you want to be in a management development program? Do you want to be proficient in a new skill? Or maybe you’d like to go back to school for a postgraduate degree? These are all possibilities to get you started with your 1-3 year plans.
Most importantly, share your newfound goals with your management, your mentors, and even your peers. Make sure everyone in your universe knows of your professional desires so that when opportunities come up in the future you’ll be on your management’s mind.
While recognizing your skill gaps and performance weaknesses are important, taking the actionable steps to fill those gaps with experience and skills is vital. Take ownership of your plans and seek out the necessary opportunities for additional training, job involvement, and/or continued education. Many companies even offer some reimbursement for training activities (such as certifications and seminars) that strengthen you as an employee. After all, your success is the company’s success! One of the greatest tools at your disposal is mentorship. Identify a person (or two) who can offer you assistance on your journey. Ideally they followed a similar path and can share their institutional knowledge on everything from skill development and networking to dress code and office politics. Essentially, try to pick someone whose success and work ethic you admire. You also don’t have to stop at just one mentor! Most professionals are more than happy to meet for the occasional coffee to answer questions and offer advice. The bigger your network, the more opportunities you have to build relationships with “informal” mentors. Ultimately, surround yourself with the best people and tools to help you meet your professional goals as quickly and proficiently as possible.
Regardless of your age, making a midlife career change is a big decision with many factors to consider. The good news is it is possible, and there is plenty of career advice for adults that can help ease the transition. At Candid Career, we have a large collection of videos that can set you on the right course. You may never “thank” your alarm clock for waking you up on a Monday morning, but there may be an alternative to dreading going to work each day. If you find it, don’t be afraid to take the leap!
This process may need to be revisited often throughout your career as plans, and sometimes goals, can unexpectedly change. But sometimes change is for the better, so be open to pivot to new opportunities (whether internal or external) as that is a major part of career management. Lateral moves are also a fantastic opportunity to gain more work experience, learn new skills, and add new faces to your growing network. Keep in mind that it’s crucial to maintain your work/ life balance throughout your growing career. While it’s tempting to spread yourself thin as a new hire to impress management, eating away at your personal time will only hurt you in the long run. Your time off the clock is your time to rest, develop skills, and enjoy life!
Lucius Seneca, an ancient Roman philosopher, famously said “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Even though it’s a bit cliché at this point, it’s absolutely true. To fill in your skill gaps, grow your network, and exude confidence as you position yourself in front of opportunity in all its many forms, consider the following approaches:
Advocate for yourself by proactively seeking out opportunities and being transparent with your supervisors and management about your interests and plans for advancement in your long-term career and in your future with your company.