Career: 14 Tips to Managing Your Career

Everyone spends a significant amount of their life at work.  To get the most out of your career you need to manage it.  So what are key steps that you need to take to manage your career.

Tip 1: Know what you want to achieve 

When you have a career as opposed to a job, you take a long term view.  Those who achieve most will generally have a very clear vision of what they want to achieve.

What’s your vision?

Tip 2: Set out a plan

Once you have clarity on your vision, the next step is to develop a plan.  Your plan needs to clearly set out:

• Where you currently are

• Where you want to get to

• The steps to move you to where you want to get to

In setting out your plan, think about skills, knowledge, experience, education and personal attributes.

Tip 3: Find a coach or mentor

Most people have 10-15 years to reach their vision so you need support and accountability to make it happen.  A coach or mentor can help you:

• Get clarity on your next move

• Make the right moves that contribute to your overall vision

• Avoid wasting time and effort going down the wrong path

Tip 4: Deliver outstanding performance

If you want to progress and reach the top, you need to build a reputation of being someone who consistently delivers outstanding performance.  One of the ways of delivering outstanding performance is to be clear about what you are measured on and make sure everything you do contributes to success.

Tip 5: Don’t move out of a job because you are disgruntled

Sometimes people move jobs because something short term annoys them.  It might be that they are not feeling valued, that they are not supported or whatever they do it will never be good enough.

If you find yourself in this situation, speak to someone more senior before taking action or to you coach or mentor.

Tip 6: Discuss you career with your boss

Employees are sometimes reluctant to discuss their career with their boss.  They worry that their boss might misinterpret this.  The truth is that the best bosses want to have people around them who are motivated and have a desire to get on.

How could you create a relationship with your boss that allowed you to openly speak about your career?

Tip 7: Avoid job moves that only offer short term advantages

It is easy to be lured in the short term by money.  Keep the focus on your vision and test job opportunities in terms of what you need to progress rather than short term financial gains.

Tip 8: Leave jobs on good terms

You might be working with someone today who pops up at some organisation you want to work with in the future.  This is more common than you think so always leave on good terms.

Tip 9: Speak openly to superiors about internal positions that are of interest to you

Managers often form a completely wrong impression about individual’s career aspirations.  If there is an internal post that would help you closer to your goal, speak to your superior about it.

Tip 10:  Be open to lateral moves

It is easy to think that every job change needs to be a move up the ladder.  Sometimes it might be useful to move at a similar level to get new experience.  For example imagine all of your experience was in subsidiary companies and you wanted some head office experience.  A lateral move might be the best way to do it.

Tip 11: Plan moves in advance

When you have secured a position and have got some clarity about some of the skills and experience you are gaining, start thinking about your next couple of moves.  Why?  The main reason is that it keeps you alert for new opportunities that might be ideal for you as you move towards your vision.

Tip 12: Keep your CV or Resume up to date

Make a habit of regularly updating your CV to capture new experience, skills or attributes that you have developed.

Tip 13: Record achievements and successes

In every interview you will always be asked about achievements and successes.  If you record achievements on a weekly or monthly basis you will have a bank of successes available to draw from when faced with this question.

In addition, you will also have the drive and motivation to do even more.

Tip 14: Don’t stay in a job too long

If you want to reach a senior level, you need to find the right balance.  Move too regularly and your loyalty will be questioned.  Stay too long and your ambition and desire will be questioned.  Three indicators that the time might be right to move on are:

• The excitement has gone from the job

• You are not getting any new experience

• The job is too easy

In my experience moving every 2-4 years is about right, but be aware of industry or sector norms.

If you want a career rather than just a series of jobs, you need to take control.  What’s your first step?

About the Author Duncan Brodie

Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.

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