2015 is going to be another year of employment uncertainty, so we owe it to our careers to be on the front foot in terms of our career management.
Here are 5 tips that will help you get the most out of your career in the year ahead:
1) Find your career sweet spot
Our careers accelerate when we combine the things that we’re GOOD at; what we LOVE and the OPPORTUNITIES available. We have more control over these factors than we realise, so take some time to: 1) identify your key strengths and assets, particularly any strengths that are unique; 2) reflect on what you love to do the most [this may or may not correlate to your current role]; and 3) always have your radar on for opportunities both in and outside the business.
Networking is not just for the extroverted, it’s an important career management activity. I work with many people experiencing redundancy and when they are tasked with ‘activating’ their professional networks, it’s difficult to start from scratch.
Don’t wait to external factors to play a role, its good technique to keep your network activated at all times and LinkedIn is making this a lot easier. Connect with people, find out what they are doing and ask lots of questions. You’ll be surprised how many opportunities arise when we take the time to stay connected.
3) Focus on career enrichment
Remember the traditional vertical career path when a team member became a team leader, then a manager, then senior manager before finally rising to the ranks of executive? These days are now behind us with a combination of flat structures, portfolio careers and flexible work arrangements dominating the career landscape. As a result, if you are just diligently working away to reach the next rung in the ladder, you may miss out.
Career enrichment is about focusing on growing your current role so that your 2015 is defined by learning, development and added responsibility. Engage your manager as well as internal resources in talent management to identify the areas where you can stretch yourself. This gives your career momentum even if you do stay at the same level.
4) Define your brand
Your brand is the combined view that the business and the market have of you. This is separate from on-the-job performance. Organisations are filled with people who perform well, yet their careers are limited by a poor brand – in order to progress your career, you need to focus on both key areas.
Think about your current brand in the business and reflect on the aspirational brand that you want to create. What do you want to be known for? What’s important to you? Who is your key audience? Once you’ve got a clear brand message to promote, you’ll be able to assess your decisions in terms of whether they support this brand or dilute the brand.
5) Dump the 5 year plan
This may be controversial, however, here’s the logic. Our experience shows that with the pace life in general, a lot happens in 5 years and most of this is not forecastable. Locking yourself into the 5 year goal may not facilitate the agility required to adapt to changing situations as they develop.
A more targeted long term plan is to define the next 2-3 steps, moves or roles that support your overall career direction and trajectory. Don’t be prescriptive about the timeline, progress, momentum and development are the important factors.
Finally, don’t wait and don’t be a passenger. It is not the organisation’s or your Managers career. It is your career so take charge and manage your career with confidence and control.