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1:31 pm - Tuesday October 21, 2014

Actively Manage Your Career to Stay On Top of Your Game

| Career, Management | Rating: 4.5
by Numan

Frightening statistics show how many of us lack active control of our careers. I offer these focal points to actively managing our careers.

I’ve recently made a decision to leave a comfy job I’ve held for 6 years after hitting the glass ceiling in that organization. I’ve thought about it a lot and I’ve decided to follow my aspirations and to make an effort to fulfill what I think is my potential.

It wasn’t an easy decision. I’ve had to accept a 20% pay reduction and a significant drop in rank and authority in my new job (4 months now) all for future prospects.

In a very unblogger like manner I haven’t shared my thoughts, conflicts, decisions and conclusion. In retrospect I believe I wanted some time off the thinking and I chose to write about different topics. I believe some ideas are now coming to fruition and I’ll be writing more about career in the near future.

My recent experience really focused my thinking regarding active career management. Managerial skills are often thought of as bossing people around, leading a team, a department or whatever association jumps to mind. I believe managerial skills are much more. We constantly manage everything around us with the most relevant subjects to this blog being our finances and our careers.

Embracing the thought of managing yourself is crucial, in my opinion, to completely unlocking our potential and understanding our important place in the processes that take places in our lives.

A look on the following statistics gives us a frightening picture of how many people lack active control of their careers:

  • Half of all Americans today say they are satisfied with their jobs, down from nearly 60 percent in 1995. But among the 50 percent who say they are content, only 14 percent say they are ‘very satisfied.’ (The Conference Board. Additional results from the supplemental survey conducted by TNS in August 2004 include:
  • 40% of workers feel disconnected from their employers.
  • Two out of every three workers do not identify with or feel motivated to drive their employer’s business goals and objectives.
  • 25% of employees are just “showing up to collect a paycheck.”
  • More than eight in 10 workers plan to look for a new job when the economy heats up, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Professionals (CNN Money).

I’ve made an effort to map out the most significant points of active career management. I’ve been deliberately stingy writing on each specific point. Should you be interested I’ll expand on each point in a different post more thoroughly. Here they are:

#1 Be Active
I’ve met many people who happily drift away with the flow going where life takes them. The last thing I’m going to do is criticize this approach to life as it usually leads to healthier more stress and care free living. There is a price of course.

For those of us who aspire to control their careers and lives and have a clear view of where they want to be this approach is guaranteed to lead to frustration. Living passively basically transfers control of your life to your environment. Reacting instead of acting is, by definition, narrowing your options and possibilities. An active approach is the first basic step to career management.
#2 Make decisions
Active management requires decision making. Without developing the ability to make clear cut decisions and following them you probably won’t be able to make progress. Decision making is difficult since taking one course of action renounces the other. There is no forward movement without decisions.
#3 Accept Tradeoffs
Decisions produce tradeoffs. Letting go of possibilities is never easy but is required in order to fully focus on the path you decided on. The inability to accept tradeoffs often leaves us in a place of permanent indecision and consequently inaction and stagnation. Letting go of hypothetical or old options is a crucial step in fully focusing on what you’ve decide upon.


#4 Create a long lasting competitive advantage

What’s right for companies is right for us as well. Companies seek the strategic high-ground in the form of long lasting competitive advantages. Google has technology, Coca-cola has brand and Microsoft has a captive market share for example.

We must develop our own competitive advantages in order to have an offer of added value to any organization. This competitive advantage can come in many forms: exceptionally good people skills, a gift for sales, a sharp mind, advanced education, a synergy of two fields of expertise and much more. The main idea is to create a unique value you can offer to the job market.

Building a competitive advantage is not done in a day. It requires planning and careful construction of complementing schools, fields, traits etc. Your competitive advantage will determine your bargaining power and often times your career.


#5 Build around your advantages

Having a competitive advantage is a great start and a solid foundation to build on. Your career path must be developed accordingly to complement and further enhance your advantage.

Aim for roles which further explore your niche and expertise. Target positions which will enable you to fully utilize your skills and potential. Think of the best way to shine and stand out in the crowds. The synergy between advantage and career path is extremely high.


#6 Constantly review your position

I had to quit a job I actually enjoyed and loved since I hit a “glass ceiling” in that particular organization. Some may say I’ve made a mistake since these kinds of jobs aren’t easy to find but I place self fulfillment higher on the value scale.

The basic principle here is to constantly review your position. Are you headed in the right direction? Will this path lead to where you want to go? Why am I still holding on to this job? These questions will serve as a course correcting method should you stray too far of the path.

#7 Stagnation is your enemy
The older you are the harder it is to make changes and change yourself. It’s a natural phenomenon and it has its logic. However, stagnation is career’s enemy. Through change we evolve and so does our offer of value.

Change is a very important piece in the career puzzle leading to more vast experience, broader horizons and bigger social networks. Development requires change.


#8 Education never stops

Continued education and learning is also crucial to maintaining and building on your advantages. The more advanced the world becomes the more niche knowledge is appreciated, sought out and rewarded.

Participate in relevant conferences, take courses, deepen your knowledge and brand yourself as an expert. Niche knowledge offers significant added value.
#9 More of a field person? Develop in other venues
If you’re not into learning and education or just don’t have the patience use the time to develop in other venues. A great way to develop yourself is to enhance your social networks. There are many ways to enhance your social networks such as volunteer work, blogging, social initiatives and more.

Other options of self development include learning a foreign language or a new set of skills. Everything that has anything to do with your competitive advantages will do. Continued self development is crucial for forward movement.

In the near future I’ll expand on each point more thoroughly in different posts. Please let me know what interests you the most and what would you like me to expand on.

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3 responses to "Actively Manage Your Career to Stay On Top of Your Game"

  1. [...] 8. He quit his job without having another one lined up. 9. He paid a “recruiter” to find a job for him, again using his credit card. 10. He never researched his employment options. 11. He borrowed money [...]

  2. [...] Actively Manage Your Career to Stay On Top of Your Game by Dorian Wales [...]

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