I had the distinct pleasure of working with a client recently who told me that his career progression had been intentional – something that sparked my interest because most of the thousands of job seekers I’ve worked with are more likely to rely on serendipity. If you’re career focused, the intentional approach will be more effective.
Here’s what an intentional career strategy looks like:
Set the goal. If you’re a recent graduate, what do you hope to be doing in 5 years, 10 years, 25 years? Do you plan to do the same thing for 25 years or do you have a vision for greater things? Are you going to remain in your academic discipline or will you seek roles to broaden your experience and increase your value and career options over time?
Research the position you aspire to. What are the academic/experience requirements? Whom do you know that is doing the job now? What is their background and how did they land the opportunity? What are the likely next career steps for someone in that position?
Do a thorough self-assessment. What qualifies you for the position you want? What are your strengths and weaknesses and how do they align with your goal? Whom do you know that might give you some insights into your suitability for the job?
Identify where you want to work. You can take months off your job search if you identify a handful or so of companies whose missions, goals and products you find inspiring. Make a sincere effort to get to know people who already work there and discover how they secured their jobs. Let them know you want to work there and how you expect to add value. Keep the relationship alive and ask for introductions to hiring managers (many of whom now do their own recruiting and hiring because HR is overworked and/or understaffed).
Find the company that needs what you have to offer. Employers offer jobs when they have a problem. They want to know that you have already solved similar problems for another employer and that you are fully able to do the same for them. There is no need to present yourself as someone you are not or to create/emphasize strengths that you lack. If career is important to you, then you want a position that fits you like a glove and an environment that is conducive to your best work. Do your due diligence upfront and the rewards can be significant over time.
Keep a running list of accomplishments, achievements, problems solved and challenges overcome. Nothing speaks to an employer like clearly articulated VALUE. You can’t know your value if you don’t know how you impact the bottom line. Make it your personal mission to determine how you can make workflows smoother, save money and increase efficiency.
Periodically reassess where you are and where you want to go next. Look around you. Does your employer promote from within? If yes, how long does it take most people to get promoted? Are there growth opportunities or are all the department heads under age 35 and planning to stay until retirement? If you haven’t had a promotion in 4 or more years, it may be time to move on.
Repeat, repeat and repeat. You’re on your way!
Ellie Vargo, MRW, CCMC