While we spend weeks, months, years (!) strategizing and risk mitigating to secure the future of our employers, we rarely take the time to consider what our own professional strategy looks like. Few leaders would bet their business’ prosperity on chance, so why doesn’t the same rule apply to our own success?
Here are some reasons why proactive career management matters and why you need to get on top of it to charge your professional flow.
1 Create stability in times of uncertainty — Despite what we might tell ourselves, we are never in total control. A recession hits, a pandemic strikes, your boss is replaced by someone who isn’t sponsoring your development, a new owner decides that the department you’re heading should dissolve. These are just examples of incidents that may result in an unexpected search for a new job within a short timeframe. By planning more effectively and being on top of your career strategy, for example having a network to quickly activate and an updated profile and CV on a job matching platform you are much more likely to find yourself in the driver’s seat.
2 Get to know your market value — Taking ownership of your career isn’t the same as actively looking for a new job. Too often high impact professionals respond to a meeting request from a headhunter or a potential new employer with “No thanks, I’m happy where I am, not out looking right now”. Lack of time and loyalty to the current employer are common reasons, the latter unfortunately more frequent amongst women. Look at a first meeting or an interview as an opportunity for networking and learning. By being present on the market you can obtain insights of e.g. which competitors are growing their teams, valuable compensation benchmarks, company cultures and roles you weren’t aware existed.
3 The crucial relationship capital — Relationships are commonly known to be the foundation of most future growth and success. Building them is a long-term process that should be handled with thought as well as persistence. Invest time in creating strategic alliances with people who can open doors and be future resources; trusted advisors, subject matter experts, and sponsors. Needless to say, putting yourself in these roles for others and nurturing your network is essential for long-lasting relationships and also increases the chance of your name being top of mind.
4 A map reduces the risk of getting lost — Determining a professional vision and mission isn’t an easy task, but creating a career road map will help you with decision-making further on. If you have identified your values, and know how to leverage your skills in order to achieve your goals, it’s easier to steer your career choices in the right direction. If the goal is to enter the C-suite or take on a board seat you might need financial or strategic training that your current role doesn’t expose you to. The better you know your road map, the more likely you are to stay on track and spot shortcuts to your goal.
5 Finally, your career is your responsibility — Truth be told, no boss, headhunter, mentor or company will have as much interest in your career as you do. Being strategic about your professional development is as important as any business plan, with the distinction that your career isn’t a commodity that anyone can take over and manage, you are the only and original owner. Be where the action is and don’t rely on chance, your future is just a little too important for that.
Hedvig Öster — Talent & Communication Advisor at Exparang