Here’s the scenario. Your job is great along with the people you work with. You’re putting in the effort and getting excellent sales results. Wake up every morning with a smile on your face, knowing you have a good job so you turn up the volume to your favorite song on the way to work. At this point, why should you think about career management?
Think of your career like an investment portfolio. Something that needs to be actively managed or it could manage you. Below are some tips to make sure you stay on track and are always moving in the right direction.
- Look at the Big Picture. Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years? Ask yourself this popular interview question. Think about where you expect to be, where you’d like to be and even where you dream of being. Write it down. Maybe you are a manager and would like to move into a more strategic leadership role. Maybe you’d just like to focus on training and development. What are you doing to get there?
- Make a Plan. Obviously, you need to do well in your current role so that’s a given. Salespeople that get results are often rewarded with promotions. Think about at least 2-3 key responsibilities of the position you’d like to hold someday and how you can start to incorporate them into your current situation. If you would like to move into a training role, think about someone to mentor at work. Can you help other teammates solve a problem or increase sales or revenue? THAT is a good first step toward being viewed as an expert. This could be seen as mentoring experience, which could lead to management or higher-level leadership opportunities. Offer to help cover in another department or community if someone is on vacation, or if there is a job opening. Your supervisor will see you as a team player and you could become their “go to” person.
- Get A Mentor. We’ve all read articles about how important it is for executives to have a professional mentor to give them advice, act as a sounding board or give them a liberal dose of reality when their idea is in left field. You need a mentor too. It doesn’t have to be a famous entrepreneur or motivational speaker. Find someone that is at a higher level in his or her career, is business savvy and would be interested in giving back by mentoring you. Make sure to speak with them at least 1-2 times per year, if not more.
- How Am I Doing? Make sure to have set times every year to evaluate how you are doing in working toward your 3-5 year plan. If you haven’t given it much thought, just be honest. Your career is important and requires attention. Break your goals up into smaller, short-term goals so that you can congratulate yourself and feel a sense of achievement as after reaching these milestones. At times, tweak the goals if needed.
- Have Realistic Expectations. I’ve seen many people regret career moves they made because they didn’t feel a promotion wasn’t in place soon enough. At the same time, it’s important to be aware of dead end situations with no advancement opportunity. Focus on your craft, work on improving your skills every day until the right opportunity arrives.
- Pay It Forward. As you get closer to the goal, think about someone that could benefit from your perspective. Think about someone in a more entry level position or early career. How can you give someone else a leg up in his or her career? This will pay dividends in ways you can’t even imagine.
- Celebrate! Enjoy a sense of accomplishment when you achieve your career goals. Stay in the moment and celebrate successes before you start thinking about the next 3-5 year goal.