You have a job that you enjoy, and found a career that you love. You want to push forward and progress. You don’t want to climb the ladder for the sake of rising or because it’s expected of you. No, you go to work because you genuinely love what you do. You know you want to become an expert in your field and to positively impact your profession because you are serious about your career.
If this sounds like you, then follow this two-part plan to do just that. The first article involves long-term ‘big picture thinking’. The second considers the more immediate short-term things you can do in your current role to progress your career. Irrespective of your age or career stage it’s time to start putting your career progression strategy in place. There is no time like the present.
Gone is the day when delivering on every task, staying late, a stellar work ethic and a strong end of year performance review mapped a clear career progression path. The 21st-century workplace has complicated things. In this fast-paced, dynamic and hyper-competitive global environment to succeed, you must execute a carefully planned personal strategy. To do this, you must take charge of your professional destiny and accept complete personal responsibility for what you want to do and where you want to go.
Write it Down
The first step – get yourself a notebook. Buy one you enjoy to write in and specifically for the job of career strategising. In it, record your thoughts, outline your plans and keep track of how you are going to action them. How often have you had an idea, said ‘I must remember that’ but totally forgot it 5 seconds later? The physical act of writing your thoughts down is a powerful tool to help consolidate your ideas.
Think Big – Proactively Plan
To proactively plan, think big and beyond your current role. Firstly, study the companies leading and disrupting your profession. Who are they? What are they doing? What sectors are they focusing on? How are they adapting to the market? What is their long-term strategy? Record the companies you admire, make a list of those you would like to work for and focus on emerging roles the most innovate companies are planning to recruit for.
Industry Research & Development (R&D)
Figure out the pressing issues, pain points and opportunities opening up within your industry and beyond? Do your research by signing up for newsletters from your wider industry, buy relevant publications, watch TED talks and listen to podcasts by leaders in your chosen profession. See where this research leads you. Consider emerging links between your industry and other innovative industries. Meaningful, productive and real proactive planning is hard. It requires thoughtful, effortful, persistent but ultimately rewarding commitment.
Personal Research & Development (R&D)
Doing industry R & D is only useful if you use it as the basis for personal R & D. As you inform yourself and build a broader industry knowledge, consistently focus on how your professional skills and interests best match the evolving needs of industry. Ask yourself, how can I use this information to inform my current role? What skill set should I develop or build upon to ensure I stay up-to-date? Identify conferences or events you can attend to build my network and to learn more. Investing your time to find out what is happening in your broader profession is wasted if you don’t personalise it by figuring out how to apply it to yourself.
Record your Momentous Moments
Your momentous moments are the career moments you are proud of. Something you did well an accomplishment, a target met, a deadline nailed, an awkward meeting successfully concluded, a productive week, billable hours reached or something similar. Schedule 15 minutes with yourself every week to record your momentous moments. This simple task not alone builds confidence but helps you to connect the dots between the things that you are consistently getting right, doing well or achieving at. This information is invaluable as you build your career strategy going forward.
By Sinead Brady