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To help you achieve a productive and satisfying new chapter in your professional life, here are six tips on effective career management:
 
1. Set Goals: Your role might have changed or you might be re-examining your current job with a new perspective. Start by determining what's expected of you and set goals on how to meet those expectations. Do your homework. What priorities do you need to focus on in the next 30, 60, and 90 days? What resources need to be put into place for your success? What results will you deliver, and how will those be evaluated? Document this goal-setting plan to follow throughout the year.
 
career_management_strategy_tips2. Build Relationships: Determine and understand the formal and informal power lines. Build and manage your team and productive relationships with peers, subordinates, and management. Create goodwill by being both a team player and a team leader—show initiative. Equally important, under-promising and over-delivering will help you manage expectations and enhance trust.
 
3. Keep a Career Journal: A work journal is rather like a diary in that you must keep it faithfully, week by week, if it's to have any value to your career. It should be a comprehensive record of your achievements and will make it easy for you to update your resume/CV and, of course, prepare for your performance evaluations or promotions by having facts and figures in writing. It should be detailed enough to record your contributions to progress, productivity, efficiency, cost cutting, problem solving, etc. The easiest plan for keeping a career journal is to set aside time at the end of each pay period for recording what you did to earn the money. Don’t procrastinate with this step! It will be difficult to remember a year from now what you did last January.
 
4. Keep Lifelong Connections: Maintain a lifelong network, not just when you need it, advises Harvey McKay, author of Sharkproof: Get the Job You Want, Keep the Job You Love. Maintain a network of contacts by keeping in touch periodically with those you know and by continually expanding your current contact base. These steps are critical to having a network to tap into when you need to.
 
5. Plan Your Career: Define the next step for your career, how to achieve it, and begin to prepare for it. A well-known study of Harvard students 10 years after graduation showed that those who had specific goals made three times the annual salary of average Harvard graduates. However, this number was increased exponentially by those graduates who had taken an extra step. Those who had specific written goals made 10 times the average amount in annual salary! Although money is definitely not the sole measure of success, this study illustrates the power of planning, focus, and direction.
 
6. Conduct an Annual Career Fitness Assessment: To keep you on track, intentional, and proactive with your career going forward, a quick glance into the fitness level of your career is essential. Assess your promotability, job fit, and industry health.

  • Promotability—Are you stuck on your career ladder? Quickly assess your promotability to determine how ready you are for the next step up. If you are doing all the right things, you should definitely be paving the way to a promotion. If you are not being promoted, you need to identify what is standing in your way. Develop an action plan if needed.
  • Job Fit—Determine if you are in the right organization and in the right job. How closely do you think you fit your job? If your talents and skills are being well used within your organization, you should be a great fit. Your job satisfaction is another key, and if it is being negatively affected by your inability to use your natural strengths, you need to think about what changes need to take place. Should you consider a career change?
  • Organization/Industry Health—Will your current career support you for the long haul? Determine the health of your industry and organization. If you have done the research and find out that your industry and/or organization are struggling to keep up with the rapidly changing world, what options do you have to make a change? What steps can you take to prepare yourself to work in a new industry or for a new organization?

If it's been over a year since you last reviewed your career management strategy, it is definitely a good time to review your career goals, reevaluate your career direction, and create some specific plans to meet those goals. Be intentional and energetically engaged in your performance, relationships, and the value your work brings to others, as well as the personal and professional rewards that you want and deserve!
 
BlueSteps Members: Contact the Executive Career Services team for expert coaching and for more help evaluating your career management strategy.

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