The Career Development Process: Career Management
If you’re like most workers, you will have many jobs over the course of your lifetime. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Baby Boomers held an average of 11.7 different jobs before age 48 – and that average is expected to be higher for Generation X and Millennial workers. Some jobs you will choose to leave to pursue other opportunities. Some jobs you may be forced to leave due to layoffs or other changes in the business. Regardless, job movement is seemingly inevitable. That’s why it’s important to realize that your job isn’t a final destination; it is one step on the long journey of your career. As such, you must manage your career for the long term.
Give Yourself Frequent Career Checkups
It’s easy to fall into a rut at a job. You grow accustomed to your duties, your team, and your paycheck. But could you be doing better? Are you really doing what you want to do? Periodic temperature checks are a good idea to make sure you haven’t grown overly complacent. Every six months, stop and assess your career progress. If you discover that your career has veered off course, put together a plan to get back on course.
Be Mindful of Your Career Narrative…
Think of your resume as a story. When prospective employers glance at your resume, there should be a clear progression running through your various jobs and your best skills should stand out. Are you a financial wiz? Do you excel at leading others? Are you a tech geek? Be aware of the narrative you are writing as you move through your career. Try to make job changes that support your chosen narrative.
…but Accept the Occasional Diversion
It’s not unusual for workers to crave a radical change midway through their careers. There are countless stories out there about Wall Street executives who abandon stressful jobs to open a small artisan shop and other such drastic shifts. The occasional major change is okay, and it’s always a good idea to follow your passion, but realize that too many radical changes can make you look unfocused to potential employers.
Master Your Craft
Once you have decided on your career path, do everything you can to be an expert in your selected field. Your skills will grow outdated fairly quickly if you aren’t diligent about keeping pace with new technology, techniques, and trends. Join professional organizations, attend industry conferences, explore relevant publications and websites, and network with peers. You may also consider going back to school to earn a new degree that could greatly expand your range of knowledge.
Lead the Charge
You need to update your skill set on a regular basis to remain competitive with your peers, but you can really separate yourself from the pack by taking innovation one step further. Be a forward thinker. Instead of waiting to see which new trend all of your colleagues are adopting, be the one who goes out and finds it. Every now and then, take a step back from your job and think about how you could improve your processes, your job, your company, or your industry. Look to other industries for new ideas that you could integrate into your work environment.
When it comes to your career, remember that you are in the driver’s seat. Sometimes you may feel like your career is being pushed and pulled by outside forces you can’t control. While all jobs are subject to external interference, you will be in a good position to withstand changes if you make an effort to manage your career.
Written by Erik Siwak, Communications Manager for Bridgepoint Education