Do you stare like a deer in the headlights when someone asks where you want to be in five years? Or, perhaps you dream of getting to the C-suite, but you’re unsure of how.
If you want that dream to become a reality, you need to prioritize career management. Below, we go over what career management is, its benefits, and how to start managing your career.
What Is Career Management?
In short, career management is taking control of your career. It involves planning out your career and taking intentional steps to achieve that plan. Instead of passively clocking in and out every day hoping someone else will direct you to the next step, you are responsible for the trajectory of your career.
The Benefits of Career Management
As mentioned above, with career management, you are in control of your career. Career management helps you to grow your skills and develop deep knowledge of your industry. It’s also a road map to get to where you ultimately want to be in your career (i.e., the C-suite).
Career Management: Essential Steps
Ready to take control of your career? Below are a few essential steps for career management.
The first step you need to take before you do anything else is to set goals. Studies show that once you write goals down, you’re 42% more likely to achieve them. Make sure to use SMART goals, which are:
- Specific: What specifically do you want to achieve?
- Measurable: How will you know that you’ve achieved your goal?
- Attainable: Is this goal realistic?
- Relevant: Why does this goal matter for my career?
- Time-bound: Give yourself a deadline.
A SMART goal is not “get promoted.” Here’s what a SMART goal looks like in action:
- Specific: I want to get my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.
- Measurable: I will achieve this by taking the PMP exam.
- Attainable: I will take night classes three times a week to prepare for the exam.
- Relevant: I want a high-paying job as a senior project manager, and this certification will set me apart from others.
- Time-bound: I will complete this by the end of December.
Prioritize Professional Development
Industries are constantly changing. There’s always new technology, and in just a few years, what was once considered a best practice can quickly become outdated. That’s why it’s important to continue to develop professionally throughout your career.
If possible, seek out professional development opportunities at work. Or, see if your employer provides tuition reimbursement if you take courses at your local community college. Find ways to keep up to date with industry best practices and continue to grow your skills at every level of your career.
Also, consider attending industry conferences or events. Some employers will pay for employees to attend relevant conferences, so check with your employer to see if this is an option for you. If you’re a member of a professional organization, sometimes members get exclusive discounts on accommodations or tickets.
Grow Your Network
Networking often gets a bad rap. It generates an image of approaching someone hat in hand, desperate for opportunities. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
At its core, networking is actually about relationship-building, and it’s a two-way street. You should reciprocate by helping your network as they try to manage their own careers.
Networking is essential to uncover opportunities to grow your career. Below are a few networking best practices:
- Utilize LinkedIn, an online professional networking platform.
- Participate in local in-person networking events.
- Include the right people in your network, such as former colleagues.
- Put your cell phone on silent mode at networking events.
Take Control of Your Career
Career management is essential to successfully growing your career and advancing to where you ultimately want to be. By setting goals, networking, and developing professionally, you can manage your career with ease.
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