As we welcome spring, I think of new beginnings for my clients and future clients along with strategic career management. The thought of planting seeds and new growth is at the forefront of my mind. I’m ready to get my hands in the dirt and plant all sorts of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. And now is the great time for planting new seeds for your career management.
I don’t know about you, but I feel in some cases, career growth opportunities haven’t been abundant for everyone the past two years. Maybe for you, the past two years have been focused on surviving, coping, and reflecting. You might have had your eye on that new job or promotion, but just haven’t been able to make it happen for various reasons.
But this year is different. I feel it. And this spring feels especially poignant with positive change and growth opportunities! Are you ready for it? Are you ready to look at the big picture of your career and the overall progression of your professional growth?
Where do you see yourself in the next 12 months? And what do you need to do to get there? What can you do NOW year to propel yourself forward in your career journey?
Now might just be the perfect time to take your career management to new heights!
Understand Career Management.
According to Wikipedia, “Career Management is the combination of structured planning and the active management choice of one’s own professional career. Career Management is an umbrella term that covers career planning & career development on an individual level or at an organizational level.”
The active management choice.
Did you catch that—choice? It’s a choice.
Wow. Doesn’t that take the pressure off if you’ve been thinking otherwise?
You can CHOOSE to plan your career, to execute the tasks necessary to make this important career move, and to make it happen.
You can do anything you put your mind to!
If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise.” Robert Fritz
When you’re ready to take charge of your career, here are some tips to help you get started…
Step 1. Define the career goal you are trying to achieve.
What are you interested in? What are you good at? What challenges you in the best ways for your professional growth? What do you want to be known for? Who are your role models? How can you make a difference? What is important to you?
Step 2. Assess yourself from a holistic view.
Explore the A-Z options of jobs and careers based on your skills. This is where some people get stuck. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We have some of the best assessments to discover careers, skills, culture fit, core behavior, energy rhythm, cognitive processes, motivation, skills, and strengths to ensure you aren’t going down the wrong path. NO ONE should dread going to work.
Step 3. Explore career opportunities that are a good fit for you.
One of the best ways to explore career opportunities is to think about people you know who do what you would like to do. If you don’t know anyone, research key terms and people on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. You might be surprised at what you learn.
Then, research job announcements on USAJOBS.gov, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and individual company websites to get an idea of what is available. Don’t limit yourself to your geographic location in this initial search.
Step 4. Perform due diligence research…if you truly want to be happy in your next job.
Explore the culture. Research the people performing these jobs. Talk to people who are doing what you want to do. Ask them to share what they like about their job, company, or agency. Explore the region, country, city, state, food, housing, schools, culture, and all the things important to you.
Step 5. Narrow your search to no more than three job targets (to start with).
Choose three job announcements that really speak to you—those that seem like the perfect fit working in the perfect location making the perfect money doing what you would like. Okay…even if not everything is perfect, it could be a stepping-stone position and provides an excellent opportunity to launch you into what you really want to do.
Step 6. Visualize clear goals for yourself (and write them down!).
It’s important to set clear goals for yourself. Setting goals will give you more clarity, confidence, focus, and direction.
Be specific. Creating a goal for “a better job” is okay, but what could make that more successful is more being more specific, “I’d like to make more than $100,000 a year, working 40 hours a week, perhaps from home at least 3 days a week, as a Marketing Director for a mid-sized company.”
Maybe you want to work as in cybersecurity for NSA, FBI, or DOE making $120,000 a year in Washington, DC. Perhaps you have your eye on retirement and want to position yourself for a higher pension by getting promoted to a GS-14 or 15. Maybe you aspire to serve in the Senior Executive Service before you retire.
Write it down! Writing things down helps for two reasons. First, when it’s written down, you can see it, read it, review it—all the time! It becomes top of mind. Plus, writing down your goals creates a greater chance of remembering it. Achieving a goal that you’ve forgotten about might be tough.
Out of sight, out of mind. There is neuroscience behind why you should write down your goals. People who vividly describe their goals are 1.4% more likely to successfully accomplish their goals.
Step 7. Create a step-by-step plan to land one of the job targets you chose.
Once you’ve figured out what your goal is, now it’s time to create a step-by-step plan to get you there. To do this, you’ll need to reverse engineer what you need to accomplish.
Are you qualified at the highest level so you can be selected to interview? If you aren’t sure, you might benefit from a career strategy session.
Do you need more (or different) experience? How can you get this? Can you ask for additional responsibilities in your current role? Is there a volunteer opportunity to help you gain experience?
Will you need to supplement your education—get a degree or a certification, or do some additional coursework? Where would you get this from? A university? Online? How much will it cost? Will you need to save, budget, or plan ahead for this?
Is there specific training or professional development that would help you be more competitive for the position that you’d like to grow into? If so, what organization offers what you need? Are there certain dates or times of year that this training is offered? Does this affect your overall timeline?
These are some questions that you may need to ask as you create your step-by-step plan to achieve the growth you’re looking for!
Step 8. Create your single most-important career management document—your resume.
Now that you know where you’re headed, it’s time to create your single most-important career management document—your resume. You can now give it the priority and time it deserves. This is not the time to scrimp or cut corners or take the bargain-basement way out.
You deserve to have your time, education, skills, training, and expertise pay off. And your resume is where you want to showcase it. Ensure that it is contemporary and speaks to each of the six gatekeepers who read and score your resume. Make it easy for them to see who you are and what you can do for them in a way they understand it. And your resume isn’t all about you.
Your resume deserves the highest priority of time and investment. It’s the ONE thing that truly represents you to employers. It’s the ONE thing you can depend on when it’s done right—and if you need help to ensure it’s done right, schedule a time to talk to us.
Seek out new opportunities for your career management.
Opportunities to grow are hopefully all around you! If you’re able to take on new responsibilities in your current job, that is an ideal solution to working towards your overall goal. Is there a project that you can accept, or ask for, that would help you grow a particular new skill? If you are unable to do this, maybe you’ve hit a ceiling and it’s time to start looking for a new employer.
Identifying training that will benefit your long-term goals may be necessary as well. Try to find conferences, classes, or professional associations that offer relevant learning opportunities.
It may also be beneficial to be mentored by someone in that industry. Mentorship allows space for guidance and advice for people working on career management, growth, and advancement. It also provides new perspectives. If you think a mentorship would be helpful for you, you can ask your supervisor or manager if they know of someone who would be a good fit for you. You can also ask a colleague for advice, or get in touch with us.
Share your career goals!
Now that you are clear on what your career goals are, make sure you share them with your family and friends so they can cheer you on and provide support.
Next, share your goals with your supervisor so he/she can encourage you and help you become a more valuable asset within the organization. If they are aware that you want to take on more responsibilities or new challenges, you’ll be top of mind when they have tasks they need help with. They may also be able to inform you about professional development opportunities, such as internal training programs or courses.
Sharing your goals also allows for accountability. If nobody knows what you are working towards, who will spur you on, support you, and motivate you? Even if you just tell a friend or a family member, you’ll have somebody (other than yourself) to check in on your progress.
I invite you to join our Boost Your Federal Resume Success group on Facebook. Having people who are like minded can help keep you on track!
Track your progress regularly!
Depending on what your target timeline is, create reminders on your calendar to check in with yourself. How is that step-by-step plan going? Are you checking things off your list?
Career growth is exciting! But it may also ebb and flow, and there may be times when you get frustrated, discouraged, or start to doubt yourself. So, keeping track of all the things you accomplish and by reviewing your progress regularly, you will stay motivated and on track to achieving your goals.
Keeping your finger on the pulse of your progress also helps you stay committed. It also allows you the opportunities to make changes or rearrange your priorities if necessary.
Career management can be easier TOGETHER!
If you’re ready to grow into your next role, whether that means a promotion or a career transition, we can help! Schedule a complimentary career management strategy call today. We’d love to learn about your goals and aspirations as well as talk you through what it could look like if we work together to get you there faster!
We’d love to know what your career management, advancement, and growth goals are—in the short term and long term. Will you please comment below and let us know? I am eager to hear from you!
Happy spring planting! I hope you achieve your career goals and have a bounteous harvest in the fall.
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