3 Keys to Master Career Management
It is another Monday Morning Regional Conference Call. Like every call, the senior management tried to rally the employees with ideologies with an upbeat and over positive tone. Toward the end of the call, the regional executive announced another short-sighted strategy to drive temporary results but neglected long-term impacts on the company and the morale of employees. After the call, as the manager, you were expected to explain the logic behind such an ineffective strategy further. You layout the foundation for execution while your team screamed their concerns and dissatisfaction. When did this become your life? When is the last time that you can make a difference at work? When did you lose control of your career?
For over 15 years, as a life coach, I dedicated myself to helping others to achieve success in core components of life, which are Career, Personal, and Financial. Career management and development are essential to a successful career. A successful career will have significant positive impacts on Personal and Financial success. Throughout my career, I have encountered many people who were challenged in achieving their goals due to failure in career management. Many of them accepted their career fates without the motivation or means to pursue their passion or purpose. After years of providing career development coaching, I have developed 3 Keys to Career Management to help anyone out there to achieve their fulfillment in a successful career.
Key 1 Self -Assessment
Your career is like your business. Can you imagine as a business owner, you don’t check your bank balances, sales, or even inventory while conducting business? An essential part of managing your career is to know where you currently stand. Are you compensated fairly based on your responsibilities? When is the last time you receive a review or feedback about your performance? Is your current role helping you to achieve where you want to be in five to ten years? Do you feel meaningful in your current job? These are essential questions to ask yourself to start your self-assessment.
In a recent conversation with Neel Doshi, the author of Amazon Best Seller — Primed to Perform, he has discussed the importance of Total Motivation culture and identifying motivators at work. He stated in his book that there are three positive motivators, Play, Purpose, and Potential. Does your current job allow you to have fun at work? Do you see the purpose in what you do? Does your job give you the potential to reach a higher goal? These are essential indicators to know if you are currently in the right job that can give you a successful career that you deserved. Once you have assessed your motivators, it is time to evaluate your skillsets and aspiration.
Self- Assessment is the first and most important part of career management, regardless if you are just entering the workforce or looking for a career transition after years of experience. There are many different ways to do self-assessment. You can do the traditional way with a pen and a paper, or you can consider one of many assessment tests offer by various career sites such as The Balance Career. Regardless of the method, your self-assessment shall consist of the following: Interests, Experiences, Skills, Achievements, and Values. Once you have completed your self-assessment, it is time to decide if you are currently on the right path, or it is time to consider a career change. However, sometimes being impartial in self-evaluation can be difficult.
360 Degree Feeback is a great way to receive feedback and assessment from your supervisors and peers. It is recommended to ask two of your superiors or direct managers, along with at least four peers for feedback in regards to your performance, skills, and competencies. With 360 Degree Feedback, you will find out how people around you feel about you. You will also be able to identify critical opportunities to develop. These feedbacks provide excellent insights into how people view you and your level of expertise. Do you agree with their assessment of your skill levels? What are some factors that led them to think that way? What can you do to influence their views in the future positively? Remember, the most useful feedback is based on the behaviors that others can see. It is essential to communicate with the person that is giving you feedback about what you are looking for. Knowing what your areas of opportunity and the current status are just the beginning, the critical part is the actions that you take after the assessment.
Key 2 Self-Investment
Your career is your business. It is important to continually invest in it to ensure you are coming out on top. If you have completed your self-assessment and received an honest 360 degrees feedback, it is time to take action on them. Like investing in the business, your self-investment has to be carefully selected to match your goals. To learn how to set goals correctly, please refer to my other story, “Wait! Are You Setting the Correct Goals?” When I said invest in yourself, I don’t mean going on a shopping spree for improvement of appearance. Even though the first impressions based on appearance may be important, but to have a sustainable career, you need to grow internally. Generally, there are three ways you can invest in yourself internally to advance in your career: Continue Education, Professional Training Certification, and Self-Improvement.
Whether you are a working adult who is thinking about going back to school for a bachelor’s degree or a mid-level manager who is seeking advancement with a Master’s degree, continuous education can be an excellent investment to help you to achieve your goal. However, with the constant increase in student tuition in this country, it is crucial to evaluate the costs of your investment. Some people argue that a college degree is not essential when it comes to careers, as there are a lot of successful entrepreneurs who are doing fine without it. However, for every Mark Zuckerberg, how many other college dropouts actually achieve the success that they want in careers?
No one can deny the positive influences of having a college degree toward the potential of achieving success in a career. In a college, you can learn the most up to date knowledge and skills to prepare for entering the workforce. You can also acquire actual team-building or multi-cultural experiences by joining various professional clubs and foreign cultures classes. A college degree symbolizes that you have completed all the requirements set forth by professionals. The graduates will receive endorsements from schools for skillsets, discipline, and the ability to collaborate. However, a college degree is like a work experience listed on a job resume. An entry-level position in McDonald’s does not equal an entry-level in Google in the eyes of a recruiter. The endorsement of college varies depending on which one you go to. Every college has its specialties and what it is known for. It is true that some schools have a reputation for providing education above others in all categories, but the cost is relatively higher. Depending on your field of work, you can often find a school that may be much cheaper but greatly help you in the industry. There are many sites like Forbes, to help you find the best college that fits your long term aspiration. College may be a great way to invest in yourself, but not everyone has the time and resources to commit for a full program. Aside from continuing education, you can also consider investing in programs that focus on specific professions or skills.
Professional Training Certification
In this day and age, school is no longer the only training ground for professions. There are many specific industry-recognized certifications to show that a job applicant consists of the necessary skills to perform the tasks. Many of the certification programs are offered by industry professionals that have been recognized by the government agencies or communities for their superior level of skills. Professional Certifications such as Realtor License, CPA, Life Insurance License, or even Personal Trainer Certification are often the requirements just to enter the industry.
Like any other self-investment, professional training certifications do come with costs. Depending on your budget and learning method, you can find various institutions that offer certification courses. Some can be taken in a college, while others may be an online-only curriculum. Keep in mind; many employers recognize the values in professional certification programs. Before you start taking money out of your wallet, try to explore certification programs offered by your employer. You may be surprised to find that your dream promotion and career may be few internal trainings away. Education and professional training may be costly and time-consuming, but there is one type of self-investment that everyone can practice without breaking the bank.
Self-Improvements are the most straightforward investments you can do for yourself. In my previous story, “How to Better Mind, Body, and Spirit,” I have discussed in detail in regards to how you can improve yourself to reach your goal. Imagine, your career is a business, and yourself is the product. If the quality of your product grows, do you think your business will grow too? If you can become a better version of yourself through improving your mind, body, and spirit, you will expect a similar positive impact in your career through better decision making, relationship, and happiness. Remember, Self-improvements do not limit to just your mind, body, and spirit. You can also seek improvements in skills as well.
Few skills are critical, regardless of your profession. Skills like communication, leadership, and team building are essential for any career. There are many ways to improve such skills without breaking the bank with school and certification. In my other article, “Showtime! Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking”, I discussed various ways to improve your skills by involvement in local professional chapters like Toastmasters International or local non-profits. Through working with others who have similar aspirations in an encouraging environment, you can see yourself improve by practicing and apply your skills regularly. Remember, you own your career like a business, so if you don’t continue to improve your products, you may be disqualified by the market. Now, like any business, can your career thrive without building a strong network?
Key 3 Networking
Networking is one of the most crucial parts of career management. A business can not thrive without being known, and neither is your career. Many people perceive networking as a skill that you have to born with. If you are an introvert, you simply can’t network effectively. The truth is that networking is just the same as any other skill. To learn networking, you have to understand the parts that made up the skills. There are three parts of Networking in career management: Organization, Industry, and Community.
This is the network within your company or organization. Your immediate co-workers, colleagues that attended the same training with you, and your line-managers. How do you strengthen your network within the organization? There are many things that you can do to improve your organization network and build your brand. You can regularly ask for 360 degrees feedback with sincerity like we have discussed earlier. You can volunteer to take on organization support roles such as party planner, birthday organizers, or even offered skills training. These activities will help you build a strong network within the organization and turn the people around you into advocates. Once you have established your presence in the organization, it is time to take a step further to widen your network.
Your industry network is the people that are outside of your organization but may add value to your performance. Your industry network can sometimes be called Centers of Influences. They may be professionals who work along with your industry or many even be an employee of direct competitors. Imagine, if you are a realtor, wouldn’t you want a reliable mortgage broker to refer to when you need to lock down a deal? If you are CPA, don’t you want a business lawyer to refer business clients to you? These networks and partnerships are invaluable as your career may be heavily dependent on them. So how do you establish such a network? Your local chambers of commerce are often a great start. Typically, your membership to the chambers will provide you the opportunity to get to know other members and build your professional network further. You can also consider professional associations such as the National Association of Asian Professionals (NAAAP) or the National Association of Realtors. These associations will connect you with other professionals in the same industry to share best practices, industry news, and even referrals. Most of these associations require membership dues and commitment, but there is a type of network that has less obligation and costs.
This is your network that resides in the community. Networks such as your local church, charitable organizations, book clubs, or even running team. This type of network provides a more personal connection than the other two. In this network, you will find people who share a similar purpose, passions, beliefs, and goals. You will be surprised that when you are facing hardship, your community networks are generally the first to extend a helping hand. Being part of such a network will also reinforce the positive motivators that we have discussed earlier in the self-assessment.
For over 15 years, I dedicated myself to helping others to achieve success in core components of life, which are Career, Personal, and Financial. Throughout my career, I have seen many people fail to achieve success in life because they were not able to control their careers. Career management and development are essential to a meaningful and fulfilling life. A successful career will have significant positive impacts on Personal and Financial success. By knowing the 3 keys to master career management, anyone can begin to set themselves on the right path to a career that is full of purpose and satisfaction. So let me ask, “Are you in control of your career, if not, what are you going to do about it?”