Careers advice is what you get at school or university after someone has given you a questionnaire test, chatted to you and then they tell you what job you should do. Or something similar.
But career management? What is that? In this rapidly changing world with organisations and sectors making huge changes and adjustments.. how can you mange a career?
I work in the field of career management and coaching so obviously I do believe that people can manage their careers but sadly not enough people do that. They drift, they hop, they jump in what they perceive to be an upwards direction. Sometimes they are pulled by the attractiveness of a new opportunity, sometimes they are pushed by unhappiness in the role or organisation they are in. Few people plan strategically.
Career management is a process by which individuals develop, implement and monitor career goals and strategies. It may be art or it may be a science; in my book it needs to be a bit of both. Whichever it delivers huge benefits. Research shows having career goals means people can outperform those who do not have goals or who only have a weak commitment to their goals. Those with goals are more optimistic, they are more resilient, they work harder, are engaged and are more successful at finding new roles. People who engage in career management generate more job interviews and more offers. They obtain higher salary offers and are more realistic about their job expectations. They are more effective in job interviews. In other words their careers are more successful.
The cornerstone of good career management is research, what is sometimes called career exploration: research about yourself and research about the world of work. That’s the science part. It is the making the decision once you have got the information that leads into the world of art and metaphysics.
Career management is not a one off activity; it is on going throughout life. It is an adaptive process. But it is particularly important to engage in active carer management when you are leaving university, when facing the decision on whether to move from a technical to general management role, when your family circumstances change, if you are facing job loss, when you face a set back in your career , when you are offered a dramatic job move, when you feel the dissatisfaction of boredom or frustration with a difficult boss. These are critical time to make the right decision rather jumping into something because of the expectations of others, the opportunity is there or you feel you have no choice.
What does it take to be good at career management?
There a five key elements of this iterative, messy process:
· Know thyself
· Understand the environment
· Develop realistic goals
· Adopt strategies that can deliver your goals
· Be prepared to adjust those strategies when new information comes to light
Are you doing all you need to in order to manage your career well?