For many of us, the phrase “managing our career” is a foreign topic. Career Management is often a term we hear or read about but not something we practice. That’s because we were never told that we need to actively manage our careers.
Some individuals can trace this back to college when they didn’t even actively choose their own major. They may have majored in something their parents chose for them, or they were forced to choose a major by their junior year and chose what they had the most credits in. For others, they focused on their career and got their first job, but then became passive in the career steps that followed. For example, some individuals followed the natural promotion path at their company, or took jobs that were recommended by family, friends or a supervisor.
My message is that you need to be an active participant in your career management. I call this owning your career. Owning your career means that you are in control of the direction it is headed including the field or industry you want to be in, if you want to be your own boss or someone else’s boss, what tasks you want to spend your time on, etc.
The good news is that career management can start at any point, and what better time to start than now? This is Part 1 of a blog series that will help you to actively manage your career! When you are ready, read more about our career coaching methodology.
How to Begin Your Career Management
Some of us know the next step in our career and others don’t. Regardless of which bucket you fall into, there are certain steps you should take in order to begin managing your career.
Know Your Next Career Move
- Write down the next job/position/role you want.
- Find a description of that job or write your own.
- Highlight the qualifications and skills the job requires.
- Create a Gap Analysis document.
In your gap analysis document, create 4 columns. In column 1, list the skills/qualifications needed for the job and the level of proficiency needed (basic, intermediate, advanced). In column 2, list the level of proficiency you have for each of those skills/qualifications. In column 3, indicate how far away you are from achieving the necessary level of proficiency. Finally, in column 4, list out the action items you are going to take to acquire those skills and fill the gap.
Now you have an action plan in place and are taking charge of gaining the skills you need to advance to that next position.
When You Don’t Know Your Next Career Move
In this scenario, you will need to start broader and ask yourself a series of questions.
- Do you want to work in the same type of role you are currently in? If not, what types of roles interest you?
- Do you want to work at your current company? If not, what companies might you be interested in working for? If yes, what are the different roles and departments within your company you might want to work in?
- Do you want to work in the same industry? If yes, what are the types of positions in this industry that interest you? The position you are currently doing? Something totally different? If no, what types of industries interest you?
If these questions stump you, you may need to start even broader to understand your interests, skills, personality, and work values and how they fit into a career. Knowing yourself is the first step in any career management process. If you would like professional guidance in this area, most career counselors or career coaches are very familiar with the techniques and assessments needed.
Managing your career can mean many things. In this blog, I discussed the next step in your career, but in future posts I will also cover long-term career goals, managing your career at its current point, and more. Starting to manage your career isn’t always easy but know that becoming more active in your career can only serve to help you achieve your career goals.