If you haven't been on the career fast track, chances are you really haven't thought much about career management. Career management is much like preventive medicine. Preventive medicine calls for you to take care of yourself by eating right, exercising, drinking in moderation, and if so inclined, taking in the Pamplona Bull Run or skydiving only once every couple of years rather than regularly. Career management uses the same proactive approach and just like preventive medicine, there's no time like the present to start.
Career management is actually investing in you and in your career aspirations. It is something you'll do over the course of your lifetime. By committing to lifelong learning and taking charge of your career, you'll be well ahead of your competition. Here are a couple of easy ways to get started.
1. How do you measure up to your competition in the workforce?
Assess your current resources and your skill set to determine your level of expertise. Go to Indeed.com, or CareerBuilder.com and check out job openings and job descriptions similar to yours to see what employers are looking for in terms of skills and education. You'll know where you stand and whether or not you have work to do if this is the career path you want to remain on. If you are heading down another career path, that's another story obviously.
2. Do you have a positive self image?
If you appear confident, comfortable, and open when interacting with others, wonderful! If not, work on building self esteem by practicing and role playing either with a friend or career coach. You'll get a clearer understanding of your strengths, be able to tackle your fears, and more apt to reach your goals if you feel good about yourself and present yourself well.
3. How well do you interact with your peers? How about with leadership?
If you have a collaborative approach and demonstrate your interest in meeting team driven organizational objectives, then great. If you are engaging and willing to break out of your job description to take on additional challenges along with others, more than likely you'll do just fine. If you dig in your heels and stringently adhere to your job description, you might want to consider working on your team building skills. Don't be afraid to ask for help from a friend, coach, or colleague.
4. Are you focused on lifelong learning?
Does the education track you've taken align with your life and work objectives? What resources do you need to realize your future goals? What education do you need to remain current - what new technologies/trends are emerging you could benefit from?
Remember, it is your career. Your lifelong learning goals may or may not be aligned to your current employer's objectives. The important thing to consider is your future learning focuses on fulfilling your sense of purpose and paying the bills. The key here is your interests because in most cases there is no contract for lifelong employment with your current employer.
5. Have you developed a comprehensive network of associates?
If not, you really should put this on your to do list. Although your network includes your family and friends, it is not just a list of friends on Facebook or Twitter. Your list of contacts should include individuals from your specific field or industry. Join organizations and groups that allow you to forge ties with professionals who can help you make a difference in your future and career. Remain in contact with these individuals to establish a professional bond.
6. Are you accountable for your career?
If you are then you've got the education, the ability to interact comfortably with anyone, the technical expertise, and a comprehensive list of contacts. Get your resume ready along with a solid list of references and you're set.
Managing your career effectively will put you right where you belong - in the driver's seat. Take control and drive.