Careers and career development do not follow a one size fits all model. In today’s world of evolving business priorities, changes in organizational structure and multiple managers in a given career timeframe, no one will watch your career more effectively than YOU. Here’s how to think about it:
- Know Thyself
Shakespeare said it, Aristotle said it – from Lao Tzu to Leonardo Di Caprio – people recognize the importance of a critical eye to one’s character. At the end of the day, you know your own strengths and capabilities far better than anyone else. You know those things that bring you a career high – the work you do that doesn’t even feel like work: and it’s up to you to identify where that sweet spot of skill, desire and workload all intersect. Find it – articulate it – capitalize on it.
- Think Skills, Not Jobs
Jobs are changing these days. At the root of any successful leader, you will find core skills that transcend industry or company size. Think Vision, Communication skills and Strategy: what successful CEO or senior executive does not possess these skills? Similarly, YOU have a “toolkit” of skills that has worked for you: maybe it’s functional (think finance, accounting, engineering), maybe it’s leadership (think communication, people leadership, delegation) or maybe it’s in the so-called “soft skills” (interpersonal relations, empathy, listening). Each of these skills can be applied across multiple jobs – you just have to get creative!
- Be Vocal
Let’s face it: your career progression is not the top priority for your boss. He or she may be the most effective leader for whom you’ve ever worked – but is busy running the business. And rightly so. Make it easy for your leaders to know what you are capable of. Take opportunities to highlight the work you have done, or the role you play on a project team. If you’ve taken a skills inventory as outlined above, highlight what skills you used to accomplish the company’s objectives. Outline your role in getting things done for the team or the department. Your clear articulation of and confidence in your work will go a long way with your manager.