Most people don’t make any time for to think about their career and make plans.
Whilst this can work out well, in many cases even the brightest, most capable person can end up in a role they’re ill prepared for, or find themselves stuck, unable to progress. Often it’s because you have ‘just focused on doing a good job’. If you’ve read my articles on PIE Theory, you’ll know this is insufficient.
The key to avoiding ending up in this situation is to actively manage your career.
Before I give you my five tips for doing this, a word of caution about goal setting.
I’m a goalsetting person, but I detest the question, “Where do you want to be in five years’ time?” I think it’s so hard for most people to come up with such a faraway goal, realistic steps to achieve it and then to stick to those steps. Instead, I think it’s better is to focus on shorter-term goals taking you in the right direction and which are more achievable. As you see progress, you are more likely to be motivated to keep going.
So, here are my top five tips for doing the most you can to progress your career in the right direction – whatever that means for you:
- Make time
There will always be more work to do. If you don’t make time for thinking about your career and the actions you need to take, it won’t happen. Even if you only diarise 15minutes a week, that is a start. Even if it doesn’t happen every week, it will happen more often if it’s in your diary.
- Have career direction conversations with your line manager regularly
These are not to happen just at your annual performance review. Very few managers are proactive about their team members’ careers, so you need to be about yours. As well as articulating what you want, ask for their input and view (even if you don’t particularly respect your line manager, doing this will help the relationship), and make sure to let them know how they can support you.
- Make time to map out who you need to know internally
It’s likely you’ll need to know people beyond those you naturally interact with as part of your role. Consider this in light of your career objectives and prioritise who to build relationships with and work out a plan for how to do this. This is key if the relationship is non-existent at this point.
- Consider how you need to build your external network
Which events could you attend to help you work on your career in a more meaningful way? Who will be there? How can they help you?
- Gap analysis
Finally, what are your current gaps to achieving what you want? These may be obvious to you but do make time to get feedback from trusted people you work with too. Finally, remember to consider both technical and softer ‘people’ skills.
Whilst some good things can happen ‘by accident’, it’s better to proactively manage your career. Make sure you make time to reflect on what’s happening in the many hours you spend at work, what you would like to change, and the direction you want to head in next.
If you would like more detailed advice on what to consider to move your career forward, then sign up for my Nine Neglected Skills for career success emails and Booklet. Packed full of information, advice and actions for you to take, it’ll help you improve your skills significantly.
About the author
Joanna Gaudoin, Inside Out Image (https://insideoutimage.co.uk/) specialises in helping ambitious professionals and their organisations improve performance and achieve their goals.
She does this by helping them master and strategically use the business skills of Personal Impact and Relationship Management. These skills are required for professional success.
Before establishing Inside Out Image, Joanna worked in marketing and consultancy in large corporates. She understands the business world and its challenges. She now helps organisations and individuals understand how to succeed in it.