You go to work, you do your work, and you come home wondering where this is all going. You wonder what your next step is. What you can be doing to elevate your career. So, you ask your manager. And your manager stares at you blankly and points you to your projects. You’re confused and head back to your desk. It is too easy to continue this routine until you get frustrated with your current situation and start looking elsewhere.
What’s the problem with this story? You’re not managing your career. You’re doing your work. You’re talking to your manager, but you aren’t actively managing your career. You’re actually looking for your boss to manage it for you. Problem is: Your boss is busy managing his or her own career. So… you need to start managing yours. You need to own it.
7 Ways To Actively Manage Your Career
Far too many professionals today look to their managers to manage their career path and trajectory when in fact; this is yours and yours alone to manage. It’s so easy to get caught up in our work that we lose sight of our career. So, how do you manage your own career with confidence? Here are seven ways you can start managing your career today:
#1. Set and communicate clear goals
The key to getting what you want is knowing what you want. You must know what you want out of your career and you should be clear about these goals with your manager and your mentor. These goals are also great ways to measure your progress through the year and years in your regular performance reviews.
#2. Create an open feedback loop
The hardest thing to do is to hear honest feedback, because it isn’t always positive. But, the ability to listen to all feedback and adjust accordingly is what will elevate your career. Be sure you are open to the good, the bad and the ugly feedback. This will help you adjust your work and your goals.
#3. Think about your accomplishments differently
Try to think about your work in terms of NEAR: Numbers, Examples, Achievements, and Results. We all have responsibilities. But the people who stand out talk about their responsibilities in terms of numbers, achievements, and results and they have examples to back it up. What numbers, examples, achievements, and results did you produce this year?
#4. Manage your work samples
You probably do a great project once per quarter and one that definitely meets the NEAR criteria. You know, a project or deliverable that you are super proud of that contributed to the success of the company. Take that work and store it in a special folder on your computer or in the cloud. Check out Dropbox, CredHive, or Box and start curating your work.
#5. Get in the conversation
Read industry publications, websites and blogs. Share the best articles and have a point of view of your own. Position yourself as a voice of the industry and a valuable resource within your professional community. When you see great content, make an insightful comment and connect with influencers in the industry.
#6. Raise your hand
When a new project comes up and it aligns with your goals, raise that hand. Let your manager or HR team know that you want to learn some new skills or gain new, more advanced experience. Be clear on what you can offer to the project and get involved.
#7. Spend time maintaining it
I know you’re busy working and getting things done. This is the extra stuff that’s required to take ownership of your career. I personally spend a few hours a week in the conversation and connecting with new people. I also spend about an hour a quarter maintaining my best work files and my social profiles. It isn’t a ton of investment; it’s just a new habit to create in managing your own career trajectory.
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