Career Management for a Cubicle Warrior is tough. Even though we get plenty of communication about the importance of Career Management, we don’t do a lot of career planning because traditional career planning centered on companies simply doesn’t work.
Instead, we need to build out career plans with our own needs identified and addressed. Here are five points that will provide the framework for your plan:
- Separate your career plan from your company. Companies don’t care about your career; only you, your family and friends care about your career. In a choice between helping your career or doing what higher management in the corporate hierarchy wants, your manager will do what other management wants. They really have no choice. Ensure your career planning is not dependent upon the company you work for now.
- Know your strengths and weaknesses. This is obvious advice, but because we are so close to ourselves, sometimes difficult to implement. Ask others your strengths brought to work and then focus on what plays to your strengths. These strengths will usually not seem like they are important because they come easy to you, but write them down — what is easy (a strength) for you is hard (a weakness) in others.
- A career is a phase, not forever. Plan for the phase of your life you are in. There is a perception that your “career” is forever, but there is more than one definition: “an occupation or profession…followed as one’s lifework.” That definition, while easy for some, is daunting for most. I like the second definition: “a person’s progress or general course of action through life or through a phase of life” (emphasis mine). This ensures “career management” doesn’t become a “boiling the ocean” exercise.
- Your work can be broken down into a simplistic (but not simple) formula: skills plus performance equals opportunities. Plan to acquire the skills you need for what you want to work on and perform in your career. Doing so will present opportunities.
- Add non-job items to the framework. Things like having two published articles in a trade magazine, speaking to outside groups once a month, or reading two books a month. These items help keep you focused on the personal side of career management and not entirely on the job, the company, and the work.
Given this type of framework, a career plan now becomes a lot more manageable to build, more personal, and puts you in control of your plan.