What is career management and do you need some?

What is career management?


Career Management is thinking about your career as a long-term activity that you intend to maintain control over. It includes a plan to achieve ambitions such as position, functional specialisation, financial reward, or the desire to gain purpose and meaning in your work. Direction, activities and progress are regularly reviewed.

As an activity, career management is not dissimilar to approach we might take to manage our financial affairs, physical health and wellbeing, household or family goals. That is, we establish an expectation about our future condition, build and then act on a pathway to achieve it, consistently reviewing progress.

Can you do career management on your own?

Absolutely.  We are programmed to dream about our futures – and so at some level, if challenged, we can talk rationally, or whimsically, about what we want from our careers. We can make plans and stick to them, and there's a plethora of books, articles and websites to assist your progress. 

So why would you pay for career management support?

There’s a range of activities involved in managing your career and sometimes getting independent professional advice is helpful. For example, when we find ourselves repeating patterns of behaviour, getting stuck and not certain how to move forward, or in an unfamiliar situation. Talking to someone with experience that's focused on career-related issues can help you get unstuck. Advice may include direction, planning, staying focused, having difficult conversations, or getting better at the transactional components of job search (such as resume, research, interview skills and salary discussions). 

What are the alternatives to managing a career?

There are alternatives to managing your career. Lot's of people set off on a career path and rely on their ability to react or adapt to forces they meet along the way. Others verbalise their ambitions and hope (or expect) it to come together. Some just place their career in the hands of an employer and trust their manager to take care of their interests.

While professionally I’m a big supporter of active career management, I can completely empathise with how a career may drift – conditions that lead people parking their careers. However, there's some events (redundancy, management/team change, company takeover, travel, mortgages) that will shock you into rapid career-changing action. When this happens, you’ll realise as a bare minimum; you’ll need a current resume and the ability to talk about what you do.

Where do I start to get a career plan in place?

The following list isn't comprehensive, but it will give you a solid start:

  1. Get clear on your 12 months and three to five-year career goals
  2. Make a plan for how you’re going to achieve it and get active
  3. Review your professional experience against possible roles. Think through how you will close any gaps (or decide why you don’t need to close gaps)
  4. Review your network, and ensure you’re talking to people who matter to your career (importantly, remember reciprocity matters, so make sure you're also making yourself available to help others)
  5. Know your professional value (skills and dollars), and what you have to offer to the market and be ready to talk about it. Arrogance and false humility are your enemies; self-awareness is your friend. 
  6. Make sure your resume is in good shape
  7. Know, and engage with, recruiters who work in your directional area

And, if you need some professional help ...

In the first instance, get in contact with me for an initial fee-free chat about where you're at, and we can discuss a way forward. I can also introduce you to consultants and coaches who are uniquely skilled in specific areas of support. 

Creating career goals

You need a current resume!