Many people tend to coast through their careers, from the time they leave school or university and get their first job, to the time they retire.
Although they go to work day in and day out and do what they’re paid to do, they aren’t really conscious of their career overall, at least not in terms of directing it to where they want to go. Career conscious individuals, however, think about what they want to achieve in their professional life, and work out strategies to achieve it, whether by themselves, with a career coach or guide, or with the support of an online career community.As a result, these individuals are much more likely to set their own defined career goals and accomplish them, than to find their career journey dictated to them by their employers, recruitment agencies, or the vagaries of the global economy, the labor market, or whatever. Career conscious professionals are also more likely to be able to foresee and deal with setbacks such as redundancy or an enforced career break, eventually turning such situations to their advantage.
Which camp would you rather be in?…
Here are 5 things in that all career conscious professionals specifically do to move ahead.
- Be clear about who’s in charge. We’ve been brought up to believe that our employers will take care of us and will take responsibility for our professional development. For most people and for most organizations that’s changed. It’s important for us to be conscious that we have to take control of our career in order to push on and get ahead.
- Know what’s going on around you. This means being aware of what is happening to the organization you’re in. These days, companies are operating in intensely competitive environments and can be affected by global issues over which they have little or no control. Keeping your “radar” on ensures that you’re able to do the best that you can do, because you are aware of the impact and timing of issues with regard to you and your job. Sometimes we get the timing wrong and move to a new role just when there is a change of control within the organization. We end up getting caught in events we hadn’t foreseen, be it a major restructuring, redundancy and so on. There is little we can do about things like that, but if we have our “radar” on, once we’re there we can watch from within and prepare ourselves for whatever might happen next.
- Keep learning, growing and developing your skill set. It’s essential to keep learning and developing. It’s up to you to take responsibility for this and make sure you are always enhancing and extending your knowledge base and abilities. Don’t wait for your organization to tell you to do it, or to offer you different training options or resources. Take it into your own hands and make sure that you are increasing your value, experiences and know-how each day.
- Develop really strong relationships. People who are great at what they do have built strong, long-lasting relationships with the people around them, and at every stage of their careers. The importance of good relationships with your colleagues and boss are critical, since you never know when you may need them or what you may learn from each other if you keep strengthening those bonds.
- Set time aside for regular check-ins. In psychological terms, we need to know if we’re OK with our bosses. We want to know what they think of us and our performance, and how they rate us. Therefore, you need to have these check-ins with your boss on a regular basis. These sessions should be apart from the annual round of appraisals. This is something that, for some people, might not need to be a daily occurrence, but still needs to happen frequently during a one-year period. It underpins psychological health within the workplace, which is vital if we are to sustain our careers.
How Career Conscious People Get Ahead – Part 2 will detail 5 more steps for the career conscious professional…so stay tuned.