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Managing Your Career: How The Power Is All In Your Hands

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Wishing is not enough; we must do.”
– Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Man writing the words create your future with a black marker on glass

Aside from entrepreneurs, there are many people who believe they have no control of their career. This lack of control can come from an absence of growth within an organization, feeling unheard by management, or even the task of doing mundane, repetitive work. If you find yourself at work experiencing lack of enthusiasm, lack of motivation, or even irritability – it can all stem from this feeling of no control.

While organizations and their leaders do have some control over your career, they never hold all the power. In fact, from the moment your career path starts, you are your own boss. From choosing what you study, how you apply it and who you work for are all things within an individual’s power and control can be maintained with proper career management from the jump.

The Basics Of Career Management

Let us say you find yourself not being challenged at work or are experiencing other issues at your job, you go to your manager, explain your problems and, just maybe, you will get the answers you need. While it can seem like this is a way to manage your career, it is not, it is your manager managing your career.

Since professional development is not linear, it is important for individuals to take control of their career to actively find the fulfillment they need. Grabbing hold of your career does not have to be intimidating but exciting. If you are looking for somewhere to start, check out some career management basics listed below.

1. Be Self Aware – ask yourself questions such as:
a. What interests you?
b. What do you value?
c. What are your most valuable assets, skills, and abilities?
d. Who can utilize these abilities?
e. What work environment best suits you?
f. What tasks do you find enjoyable?
g. What skills do you need to develop?
h. What ethics or values are most important to you in an organization?
i. What do you want out of a career?

2. Focus On Your Skills – trying to acquire a variety of skills can be useful but when focusing on a specific career path it is more beneficial to focus and build on the skills that are already your strengths and that will help propel you forward.

3. Build Your Brand and Promote Yourself – personal and professional branding is becoming even bigger with the introduction of social media. Your brand should be a unique combination of skills and experiences that set you apart from other individuals and allow you to build trust with prospective employers. Self-promotion can be done through social media sites, personal websites, vlogs, or podcasts – anything that will target the right audience and increase your visibility.

4. Continuously Evolve – be open to learn and evolve with your career by keeping up with the latest industry trends and adapting with them accordingly. Be involved in training seminars and be willing to expand your knowledge and skills.

5. Develop a Long Term Plan – develop these plans around what career will compliment your skill asset, needs, interests and aspirations. Careers can be unpredictable with lay-offs or any other unforeseen events, so placing emphasis simply on a salary can hurt more in the end.

6. Embrace New Opportunities – change is not for everyone and it is easy to get comfortable in a work environment but if you find yourself not being challenged or longing for something new, be open to new opportunities that come your way – even if they are not what you typically expect. You can help find new opportunities by building a relationship with a recruiter or actively looking for new positions or organizations to apply for.

7. Network – networking can be a task but when done correctly it can provide a solid foundation for a stable career and a cushion for the unplanned. Networking can be formal or informal and can be built around friends, co-workers, other individuals in your field and experts. Building and nurturing these relationships will not only extend your circle but provide a source of information for new opportunities or chances of professional growth that you might not get solely from your workplace.

8. Stay Informed – this does not mean simply engage in more training or be aware of new opportunities, but it also means to actively seek out people in areas who can be a valuable resource for you such as talent acquisition teams, recruiters, people who work in compensation or benefits, and professionals in talent development.

The Secure Recruitment Relationship

Most recruiter-candidate relationships end after landing a job, but there are plenty of benefits to building a stable, professional relationship with one as well. If you find a recruiter that is extremely experienced in the career you are passionate about and has the resources to help, bring overall career growth, it can be incredibly beneficial to the future of your career.

Man and woman shaking hands across a desk

Building a relationship with a recruiter is a lot like an investment that will come in use when changing jobs in the future and as a buffer for any unforeseen events such as leaving a toxic work environment or sudden job layoff.

Now before choosing a recruiter to be a trusted advisor, it is important to know the two different types of recruiters:

  • External Recruiters who typically work for staffing firms and fill roles for a variety of organizations and industries.
  • Corporate Recruiters are those who work and fill roles for a single organization.

Who you choose will be based on your skills and overall goals for your professional career and developing a relationship with them should be like building a relationship with anyone, using interpersonal and communication skills. Once a connection is established, ask about how to stay connected moving forward. Be sure to ask what the best way is to contact them, what you can contact them about and respect any boundaries they choose to set.

It is also crucial to be transparent about your work history, career needs and any other personal needs that you want to meet with your career. The more your recruiter knows about you, the easier it will be to place you where you need to be. Once you have landed a job, be sure to keep them in the loop, especially in the case if a job is not working as expected or to see if they have any open opportunities for you.

While you cannot completely depend on a recruiter to place you directly in your dream job, rewrite your resume or fix the issues you are experiencing within an organization they can be a helpful resource for when you feel it is time to move on or are ready to gain more control in your career.

How to Know When To Move On

Deciding to leave a job or start a new career is significant and can be intimidating but recognizing the signs of when to move on are important so that you do not feel a lack of career control or professional burn out. These signs can include:

  • You are underusing your skills
  • The work environment is unhealthy or toxic
  • There are no new opportunities for both personal or professional growth
  • You do not agree with the ethics of the organization
  • You are severely underpaid
  • You no longer can fulfill your daily job responsibilities
  • There is a lack (or no) work-life balance
  • You actively avoid your daily tasks
  • You can no longer picture yourself there long term
  • You feel overwhelmed
  • You have achieved what you wanted to achieve within the organization
  • There is no training or other career advancement resources
  • You feel undervalued
  • You learn more coping skills than hard or soft skills
  • Physical signs of burnout: Excessive stress, Fatigue, Insomnia, Sadness, Anger or irritability, High blood pressure

Taking full control of your career can seem impossible, especially after experiencing burn out. It is critical to both your personal and professional well-being and growth to recognize the signs of needing to move on and regain control of your career. If you are feeling increasingly anxious and irritable with your daily workload or job in general, it is time not only to evaluate your options but also recognize what you want and need out of your career and future. Start by weighing your options, discussing plans with a trusted recruiter, if able, and staying open to new opportunities, even if they push you past your comfortable boundaries.