Is it possible to strategically plan your next career move when your plate is filled with critical priorities? The answer is yes, and you owe it to yourself to proactively take control of your career advancement.
Unfortunately, many executives spend more time planning their vacations than strategically planning career moves. When you plan a vacation, you or someone you have assigned will research destinations. You then make an informed decision, negotiate costs, dates are set aside on your calendar, and reservations are confirmed.
If a decision is reached to drive vs. fly obviously you plan out the best route. For example, if you drove from New York to Los Angeles with no GPS, you would eventually arrive, but the trip would be filled with delays, mistakes, and it would increase the traveling time. The same holds true for the best route to take to advance your career.
Simply put: If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re never going to get there!
Too often, individuals wait for opportunities to present themselves or wait to be called by an executive recruiter, rather than strategically planning their career.
Professional growth and career advancement offers attractive benefits including increased compensation, a higher level of respect and achievement, more exciting work, and the ability to achieve your professional as well as personal goals.
Don’t wait to proactively control your career until you experience a job loss due to an unanticipated merger, acquisition, or new leadership. It’s no secret that you are much more marketable to other companies when you are currently employed. Also, the interview process for high level positions can take months not weeks, which could cause you to be out of work for three to six months or longer.
The following strategies will prevent this scenario, by explaining how to proactively plan your career advancement either within your current company or with companies you most prefer.
Strategy #1 – Reflect on what you value most in your career life to make sure your career advancements head you in the right direction. Review your resume or CV and delete the skills and responsibilities that no longer fulfill or excite you, even though you may be good at them. This will leave you with the areas of your career that you most truly value and should be part of any future opportunity you accept.
Strategy#2 – Write down the five things you would change if you were your boss. Often these are things you have no control over, but you want to make sure they don’t exist in the next opportunity you accept.
Strategy #3 – Create an internal as well as external executive career strategy. The internal strategy will focus on actions you could take in your current role to help you progress. This could include learning new skills, strengthening relationships at your current company, offering to mentor others, and logging your professional achievements as well as the impact they have on your current employer.
Your external strategy are actions you could take outside of your current job. This could include networking with industry peers, attending industry conferences, researching potential opportunities, and building relationships with executive recruiters who specialize in your industry or profession.
Strategy #4 – Develop a consistent personal brand including your online presence. Your brand refers to your track record of success. What have you done throughout your career that was better, faster, more cost effective than the person who had your job before you? Your brand should be shared on your LinkedIn profile, in the recommendations you receive from others and in articles you post online or in trade publications. Set yourself up as an expert in your profession who is also a thought leader.
Strategy #5 – Consistently build your professional network and continue to nurture and maintain these relationships. According to LinkedIn, over 80% of all new opportunities are filled as the result of networking. Also, be a generous networker offering to help others and share relevant contacts and information. If you are a valuable contact to others, they will be more apt to reciprocate when you need an introduction or favor.
Strategy #6 – Identify a mentor who can often be provided for you by your employer. Mentoring can play a critical role in your career development and is one of the best ways to learn new skills, transition into a new role, or advance in your career. If your employer does not offer a mentorship program, reach out to networking or professional groups that my offer to connect you with a mentor. A mentor does not have to work in your industry or profession to impact your career.
Strategy #7 – Don’t wait for a promotion to accomplish more in your career. Always seek out opportunities to take on additional responsibilities or projects, especially if they allow you to learn new skills. Managers are often resented by their subordinates where leaders inspire people to follow them. Seek out opportunities that can improve your ability to lead.
Strategy #8 – Master your profession or industry. There are certain professions or industries that require their executives to master specialized knowledge or skills. When you master the information, successful processes, and anticipate trends, you improve your ability to communicate about relevant issues. Read your industry publications, attend trade shows, join your professional association, and offer to work on their membership committee. This will allow you to build your network while you’re promoting the value of membership in your association. These connections can help advance your career.
Strategy #9 – Commit to a lifetime of learning. The best investment you can make is an investment in yourself to enhance your knowledge and skills that will benefit your career advancement. Learn to identify areas that will strengthen your ability to take on higher level executive roles while also improving your current performance. Think about improving areas like decision making, leadership, new technologies, or global awareness. Be willing to learn a second language or earn an additional certification or degree.
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Strategy #10 – Update your career documentation. Update your resume or CV and LinkedIn profile to reflect additional areas of responsibility, awards, goals achieved, and additional skills, certifications, or degrees. Encourage others to recommend you on LinkedIn and position yourself as an expert in your profession or industry.
Implement any or all of these strategies and you will be the person in charge of your career by proactively positioning yourself for career advancement.
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