Are friends and colleagues getting ahead in their careers while yours seems to be standing still?
Don’t try to pin the blame on a manager, parent, or teacher when the person most responsible for your career direction is you.
An intelligent 3-step career plan can help you to get going in the right direction:
1. Commit to Continuous Learning
Tuition reimbursement and continuing education are two highly motivating perks for employees and job seekers.
Knowledge truly is power, where an estimated two-thirds of U.S. employees now work in the services sector, and where knowledge is fast becoming our most important product, Peter F. Drucker points out in Post-Capitalist Society.
And sure, post-graduate studies can provide the knowledge you need to get noticed at work, but don’t discount the value of industry-related reading and seminar attendance.
One marketing manager we know at a B-to-B catalog company enjoyed the competitive edge she received from attending advanced-track seminars sponsored by industry trade groups. But she stopped attending when her company stopped paying for the seminars due to a downturn in the economy.
Rather than taking the initiative to attend on her own dime, she did nothing. The result was haunting: After applying for a position at another company earlier this year, she failed to make it past the initial interview because she lacked skills she would have acquired if she had attended the advanced-track seminars.
2. Periodically Self-Assess
Take time to assess your work and career goals periodically. Compare your current position against your current life plan. If it has been a few years, chances are good that your life and motivations have changed quite a bit since you began working at your current position.
One client we know put himself through college by selling men’s shoes and fashion accessories. On the advice of a marketing professor, he elected to pursue a career in direct marketing and advertising. He joined a large New York DR agency after college, thriving on the adrenaline rush of agency life.
He held several positions with increasing responsibility over the course of eight years, culminating with an appointment to management supervisor. But his personal life had changed: He was now married, had started a family and was commuting from his home in the suburbs.
He was successful, but the majority of his time was spent at the office or on the train. He felt disconnected from his family and increasingly stagnated in his career.
It was a career crisis, where his life goals and current job weren’t lining up. So he took personal inventory: He still loved the excitement of agency life, but decided that money and time were more important. So he brushed up on some sales courses he had studied in college and decided to pursue a career in business development at an insurance company.
Now, a year after leaving the agency world, our client is working for an insurance company near his home in a position that offers unlimited earning potential and flexible work hours.
3. Stay Informed About Your Employer
How do you stay abreast of company news? It pays to monitor public perceptions about your company’s business practices and economic viability in the marketplace. News organizations may have information that hasn’t been shared with employees. If public perception sours, it may be time to plan your next career move rather than hope for the best.
One client worked for a successful e-mail services provider that was sold for $150 million. The sale was announced and everyone at the company was going to benefit from the transaction, senior management cheerfully proclaimed.
Flash forward 12 months, and our client discovers a surprising news feed headline after switching on her computer one morning: Her company had burned through 70% more cash than forecasted for the quarter, had lost its biggest client and was now planning to lay off half the staff.
Later that day, she was taken aside by her supervisor. She received assurances that her job was safe, but remaining employees would need to take a pay cut. She wasn’t happy, but felt there was little that could be done: At least, she had a job. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection four months later. The last paycheck she received was returned for insufficient funds—it bounced!
What’s the takeaway? Our client saw the writing on the wall but took no preventive action. She placed her future in the hands of her supervisor and wound up becoming an unemployment victim.
Start Intelligent Career Planning Today
Why not start pursuing your intelligent career plan today? No time for reading, you say? No excuse! Schedule time each week to catch up on your reading. A weekday edition of The New York Times contains more information than the average person was likely to come across during a lifetime in 17th-century England, Richard Saul Wurman tells us in Information Anxiety.
Ongoing education, periodic self-assessments and staying in the know about your company are essential to intelligent career planning. Only this kind of self-investment can deliver that truly-rare sure thing—an increase in your marketability and work-life balance.
What Are You Searching For?
If you’ve worked with Victoria James Executive Search before, you already know about the value we provide for job seekers and HR talent professionals.
Intrigued? Give us a call today at 203.750.8838, so we can help you prepare for your next career move. All Victoria James Executive Search recruiters have a proven track record of senior-level placements at Fortune 500 firms as well as start-ups. We look forward to hearing from you.
Smile! We leave with the following superb job-interviewing tip guaranteed to land your next job with style
from the folks over at The Poke in the UK (try these at your own risk ):
When asked why you would be a good fit for the job, slide an ancient scroll in front of your interviewer(s) and say, “It was foretold.” Then stare at them.
Are you ready for a change?
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