NEWS + ADVICE
Improve Your Career
Many of our blog readers are people who are keeping in touch with the market – always smart – even though they are not in an active cleared job search. We provide a lot of industry news and the periodic article on career issues – all under the Career Resources section of our website. Now we are adding a specific focus on career planning and development. This is the first in a regular stream of articles designed to help you grow professionally and enhance your cleared career at any stage or age.
Career development has been extensively researched across a wide range of organizations over the years. As a result we do know the basics of successful careers. You may recognize all of these – but, if you are like many of us, actually doing them is the tougher task. The three basics of career success are:
- Build on your strengths
- Create career goals, in writing, and review them regularly
- Build and maintain your network
Build on Your Strengths
One starts this by actually thinking in detail about one’s strengths and how one uses them. Often, college students take assessments which help them recognize potential strengths. Historically, too many companies used performance appraisals to identify one’s weaknesses so one could ‘fix’ them. Yet for decades the research on successful people has been clear – they know their strengths and they work where they can use and increase such strengths.
- Do you know what your strengths are?
- Have you thought deeply about what you are both good at and enjoy doing?
Those are usually strengths. Talking with past bosses and peers helps ensure you recognize all your strengths. That can also help you separate out the ‘maybe’ from real strengths. If you are not happy in your current work, you might consider taking some formal assessments to help you see possible options to explore. Check with the career services function at colleges you attended – many offer such services for alumni. Read Richard Bolles “What Color is Your Parachute” (revised annually) and use the exercises in it to help you identify and prioritize what you are good at and how that translates into jobs.
Create Career Goals
You know you should. But if you are like many people, you have not taken the time to do so. Or you did one as part of a company program, but may have been ‘politically correct’ in the process. Starting a notebook, electronic or paper, on your career ideas and interests is a good first step. Writing out goals is shown to significantly improve the probability you will achieve them!
Many successful people create a personal board of advisors to help in this process.
The first step is to think about what you define ‘success’ as.
- What does it mean to you?
- How will you know when you are achieving it?
Career goals are only as good as the research and work underlying them. “I want to be a multi-millionaire at 40″ or “retire at 35″ are not career goals. Career goals are specific and usually done in short-term (covering the next 6-12 months), mid-term (18-36 months), and longer- term (over 3 years.) They require you to research what you want to do, how to get there, and what is going on in your industry and career field. Career goals depend on both internal factors which you control and external ones from technological changes to economics/market changes. Both are critical to your planning.
Some questions to ask yourself to get started might include:
- What do I want to achieve which I have not yet achieved?
- What work aspects do I want to eliminate?
- What work aspects do I want to keep as I enjoy them?
- What new skills or experiences do I want to have?
Build and Maintain Your Network
We all know how important this is. Most of us stop there unless we are in an active job search. Yet your network – both those people you know well and so-called ‘weak connections’ – can provide you with all sorts of career benefits. These are people who can keep you up on what is happening in your field, in the market, in technology, and so on. They are people you keep in regular contact, even if not constant, and who you help along the way. They may tip you off to opportunities to grow and develop skills you want to improve, such as speaking at a professional conference or getting onto a critical task force at work. And they will help you move forward and along your desired career path in many ways. You, of course, will be doing the same for them!
A recent book on how people network, the ways effective networks are built and sustained – as well as what networking is likely to hurt your career – is “Give and Take” by Adam Grant. It is an easy, interesting read.
ClearedJobs.Net has a wide range of blog posts — including Who Should You Work For — as well as videos designed to help you enhance your career. Here are a few:
We will be creating more articles and videos on specific steps you can take to grow and succeed. Your questions and suggestions are welcome!
Patra Frame is ClearedJobs.Net’s HR Consultant. She is an experienced human resources executive and founder of Strategies for Human Resources. Patra is an Air Force veteran and charter member of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Follow Patra on Twitter @2Patra.This entry was posted on Saturday, May 21, 2016 9:38 am