post by Dr. Dawn Graham:
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.
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.
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
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.
manage your career in less than ten minutes a day:
- 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
- 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.
- Walk the
halls. 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.
- Ask for
feedback. 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).
- Meet people
outside the office. We’re
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.
- 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.
- Peruse job
openings. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
career management is your responsibility. Make the time to invest in
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 on Business Radio 111 and is a
regular contributor to . Her new book, , gives
professionals tools to draw a new roadmap for success—and happiness. Learn more
about the book and get free bonus content at .