How to Propel Your Career in 10 Minutes

post by Dr. Dawn Graham:

Spring cleaning, New Year’s resolutions, summer
vacations, back to school—these days, everything has a season. But what about
career management? One would think that something we spend more than half our
waking hours investing in, which sustains our families and lifestyle, and which
for many is an integral part of our identities, would get more regular
attention. Other than when we need a new job, that is.

There’s a well-publicized notion that
professionals spend more time planning a vacation than planning for their
careers. That’s an unfortunate truth for many of us, even though a successful
career is much more important to our happiness—a research-backed fact. Towers
Watson’s global talent survey found that career advancement opportunities
ranked higher than base salary
on a list of top reasons employees join
their companies, yet less than 50 percent of these same employers said they effectively
provide these advancement opportunities.

It’s no secret that today’s professionals need
to take charge of their own growth and development. However, many haven’t
stepped up to take the reins. We often dedicate time to challenges requiring immediate
attention—we wait until a layoff, merger, or burnout before we dust off the
resume, only to find that the market and required skills have shifted since we
last interviewed.

Don’t let this be you. Whether time, know-how,
or some other excuse has gotten in your way, NOW is the time to be proactive.
The best way to remain marketable and achieve your professional goals is to
practice consistency and discipline in managing your career.

Here are nine simple strategies to actively
manage your career in less than ten minutes a day:

  1. Stay active
    on LinkedIn
    . As technology advances,
    social media is becoming increasingly critical to careers across all
    industries. In minutes each day, you can stay in touch with your contacts
    and build new ones by posting (or sharing) insightful articles, joining
    online discussions, inviting people to connect, or endorsing others.
    Maintaining a consistent online brand will ensure you stay top of mind
    with your network and keep you “in the know” about what’s happening in
    your field.

  2. Subscribe to
    an industry blog.
    New information and ideas are
    constantly generated and shared in all professions. These bite-size
    articles take only a few minutes to read on the train or over lunch and
    will sustain your marketability, which is critical to both your present
    role and potential future positions.

  3. Walk the
    With a packed work calendar, it’s tempting to interact
    with the same few people, eat lunch at your desk, and skip the monthly
    birthday celebrations. But small interactions with colleagues go a long
    way in building trust and deepening relationships, which will ultimately facilitate
    future interactions. If you work in a large organization, strive to meet
    colleagues outside your department, to learn what they do. If you’re
    remote, travel to the main office for town halls, special events, or
    occasional staff meetings.

  4. Ask for
    Plain and simple, feedback is a gift. Welcome it with
    open arms. Since many shy away from providing constructive criticism, proactively
    seek it out and be specific as to how others can assist you. For example,
    before your next presentation, ask a colleague to note at least one thing
    you can improve, such as a bad habit (e.g., swaying, reading slides
    verbatim, talking too softly).

  5. Meet people
    outside the office.
    typically drawn to familiar faces at networking events, children’s team
    practices, and/or weekly worship services. Going forward, introduce
    yourself to at least one person you don’t know. Be curious, and aim to
    find commonalities. You’ll instantly broaden your contacts, and you never
    know who you might meet. Everyone has something to teach you. Everyone.

  6. Read your
    local biz journal or daily newspaper.

    Okay, print media has gone the way of the fax machine. However, spending a
    few minutes each weekday familiarizing yourself with current events
    expands your perspective and makes you more conversant and interesting. If
    it’s more convenient, subscribe to an online news channel to receive a
    daily roundup of the latest headlines. For many, the hardest part of
    networking is finding something to talk about, so the more you know, the
    more topics you’ll have to choose from.

  7. Peruse job
    Even if you aren’t currently
    searching, remaining informed about what skills, experiences, and
    knowledge employers are looking for in your role/industry. Periodically
    evaluate how you measure up to current job requirements, and update your
    resume and LinkedIn profile to reflect your latest accomplishments at
    least once a year (or more often). Sometimes the best opportunities in
    life come along when we’re not looking. Make sure you can be found.

  8. Help others. Building goodwill with your network will be invaluable
    in your career, and these opportunities are everywhere. Assisting someone
    could be as simple as providing an introduction, offering a word of advice,
    or sharing a resource. Take a few minutes to slow down and notice When you
    can serve someone else.

  9. Pay attention. In most cases, it’s rare to be completely blindsided.
    Usually, red flags precede a layoff, major leadership change, merger/acquisition,
    or other career upset. When we keep our heads down, we miss the signs.
    Tune in to watercooler talk, recognize any increase in closed-door
    meetings, understand potential implications of a hiring freeze or budget
    decreases, and pay attention to project delays. While none of these may
    indicate a major shake-up on the horizon, taken together, these signs may
    indicate you need to start sharpening your interviewing skills.

For better or worse,
career management is your responsibility. Make the time to invest in

Happy hunting!


Dr. Dawn
is one of the nation’s leading career coaches.
She is the career management director of the MBA Program for Executives at The
Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where she counsels business
leaders on making strategic career choices. A licensed psychologist and former
corporate recruiter, she hosts SiriusXM Radio’s popular weekly call-in show Career Talk on Business Radio 111 and is a
regular contributor to Her new book, Switchers:
How Smart Professionals Change Careers and Seize Success
, gives
professionals tools to draw a new roadmap for success—and happiness. Learn more
about the book and get free bonus content at