Guide to Successful Career Management

Careers and work have evolved and continue to evolve, so the method of managing a successful career has changed, too.

A few decades ago, the big companies had “corporate ladders” you needed to climb. Following the rules and the steps (read “career plan”) gave the employee a “shot” at being promoted. Job titles changed to show the progression up the corporate ladder, from “Financial Analyst I” to “Financial Analyst III.” Large organizations were comprised of functional silos (sales and marketing, finance, etc.) which were separate kingdoms. Politics held sway.

In that era, organizations often rewarded loyalty and dedication. Long hours mattered if you were going to move up that ladder. Stability and reliability were key measures. A person’s ability to master a single skill was highly prized, and that skill was valued and relevant for many years, if not decades.

Back then, companies used “golden handcuffs” (obligations in employment contracts) to retain key employees. I ran into this as a recruiter. Targeted candidates would often be extremely unhappy but were “locked in” and had few career options. There were outlandish examples that have become legend.

Personal Career Management vs. Corporate Career Management

Over time, career management began to change, as work and careers have changed. Very few people collect the 25 year anniversary watch, now, both because they don’t stay with one employer as long (4 years is the average according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) and because most employers don’t pay attention to employment anniversaries now.

Today, the corporate career ladder has gone the way of the dinosaur. The work environment changes very quickly now.

Perhaps the term “war for talent” rings a bell? That war for talent is what recruiters and employers worry about now. Companies are focusing on the best way to find and to keep the “best people.” More and more, organizations are looking to develop the employee.

Personal Career Management Is Essential Today

Today, your career management must matter to you first. It starts with you. Then, you look at how to implement it.

There are no guarantees of promotion by the organization, now. Certification in a training program or getting an advanced degree such as an MBA does usually help. The big proviso is that they must help your career advancement.

A common question I receive at a speaking engagement is “Should I get an MBA?” My standard response is a question: “What are your career goals? Does an MBA position you for your next move?”

In my experience, only one attendee who asked that question had a career plan or an idea of what they wanted to do with the degree. Education is too pricey today from a resource and time investment not to have an end goal in mind from the start.

Next: What Is Career Management and Why Is It Important?

About the author…

Job-Hunt’s Career Management Expert Randy Block been working in the career field since 1972. He started as an executive search consultant before becoming a full time certified career coach in 2000. With clients, Randy focuses on issues of career transition: changing careers, choosing a career direction and positioning, finding opportunities, as well as finding opportunities for self-employment, freelancing, and consulting. A graduate in business from Cornell University, he holds coaching certificates from the International Coaching Federation, Career Planning and Adult Development Network, and Career Coach Academy. You can visit Randy’s website at, connect with him on LinkedIn, and follow @ChartCareerNow on Twitter.

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