By Steven B. McKinney, President
How To Manage Your Career in 8 Steps
Job security everyone wants, but few do anything about achieving it. Perhaps it is because the first step is the hardest step. Following a pattern or proven strategy can be helpful in getting that first movement towards an objective. Start here and discover the eight steps that will help you manage your career and gain the job security that you desire.
So, what is the concept? Managing a career by establishing goals and objectives is understood. The mystery is what strategies are proven to be the most effective in achieving the selected goals and objectives. Is there one plan that fits all, or rather principles applied to the process that produces results based on the uniqueness of each. I believe that it is the latter. Learn these principles to develop a career management strategy which in turn will increase job security.
Why is this important? Managing careers used to be the job for in-house human resource professionals, not anymore. Now, it is up to the individual to take charge of their careers. A systematic evaluation of progress toward the achievement of selected goals/objectives and modification of the strategy is now more than ever in the hands of the individual.
However, too many executives are unprepared to manage their careers and don’t even know where to begin. There is a misconception that a good resume and a good headhunter is all you need to manage your career. Or, that a career coach will revise your resume and then give you the job you desire like ordering pizza. Both concepts are fallacies and just wishful thinking by people not wanting to put in the work required.
As an executive search consultant and executive coach for over 17 years, I have placed 100’s of “A” level candidates, witnessed first-hand how successful people managed their careers and coached many who have realized their potential. Unfortunately, I have also observed those who have failed to give their careers the attention it deserves. Their stories have usually ended with unfulfilled dreams, wasted potential, and careers cut short. Your career does not have to end this way.
Consider and implement these eight things to effectively manage your career.
1. Self-assessment. There are numerous psychometric self-assessment tools like Meyers-Briggs that you can use to getting a better grip on how you think and the preferences that you have. Check these out and take the results with a grain of salt. Don’t believe everything they say but consider that most of the feedback is probably right on. If you like, here is a link to one that you can take for FREE. http://www.humanmetrics.com/personality
2. 360 Assessments. After you have done a self-assessment, it’s good to see how other perceive you by taking a 360 assessment tool. People that we associate with or stakeholders often perceive us differently than we want to be perceived. It is possible to send the wrong messages to others repeatedly if we do not realize that it is happening. We sometimes refer this as blind spots. By doing a 360 assessment potential, blind spots can come to light. Here is a FREE 360 leadership survey, it covers ten leadership characteristics. They are Strategy, Communication, Knowledge, Learning, Influence, Relationships, Delegation, Priorities, Integrity, and Confidence. http://www.leadership-tools.com/360-degree-feedback-leadership.html
3. Career coach. Identify and hire a career coach. A good coach can help you every step of the way and mentor you to success. Find one that you like and is educated in the discipline, not just anyone off the street. Usually, coaches belong to one or more global organization. For example, the International Coaching Federation, https://www.coachfederation.org/, International Coaching Council, http://www.international-coaching-council.com/. However, the individual's personal credentials are the most important thing to consider.
4. 3 Sentence Narratives. Identify ten achievements that you are the most proudest of. Once assembled, write them in a three sentence narrative. This narrative should describe (1) “WHAT” the achievement is. What was done? Key activity; for whom. Generic. (2) “HOW” you made the achievement. How was it done? Step-by-step. Two to three major elements; statement; statement; statement. (3) The “RESULTS” of the achievement in quantitative terms. What were the results for the organization? Here is one example provided by Bernard Haldane.
Researched and investigated reasons for a financial paper backlog for two accounting departments of a major insurance company. Identified problems; assessed internal capabilities; set goals for completion; planned and implemented procedures to correct the problem; reorganized the two inefficient departments into one effective department. Results: Cleared 5,000 items and 5-year backlog; reduced staff by ten employees through natural attrition in less than 15 months, realized savings more than $120,000 annually.
5. Success Factors. After completion of your three sentence narratives, analyze your achievements and identify the 5 or 6 success factors that occur most often in your achievements. These factors typically come under categories of skills such as management, communication, research, technical, teaching, financial, and creative, etc.
6. Draft your resume or CV. Armed with your success factors and achievements you are ready to prepare your resume and reveal your proven pattern of success over time to potential new employers. Armed with your work history, education, and knowing what success factors you employ time and time again to succeed you are ready to create your career marketing tool the resume or CV.
7. Update your social media channels. There was a time when our work and private life was a mystery. That is no longer the case we are all pretty much an open book. Keep your LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media channels updated, and be careful what you say, or it could come back to haunt you.
8. Cross-cultural training. In today’s workplace, we interact globally or at least communicate with colleagues and clients from different places and cultures on a daily basis. If we do not understand at least a little bit about how the people that we associate with think we cannot build successful partnerships. Recently, I coached a couple of oil industry leaders here in Korea. Upon completion of the all day session, one of them made the following statement. The coaching was excellent, no question about it. But there is one area that we should receive more coaching on and that is how we interact within our company. This coaching was good for us to learn how to deal with Koreans, but what about the people in our company that is so diverse? We have employees from Turkey, Mississippi, California. Texas and Lousiana.
How can you begin to apply this concept to your career? First, recognize that managing one's career is not an option any longer. No one cares more about you than you. This article is not all-inclusive but rather a starting point for you to develop your strategy. Read and try to apply these principles in your career. Do you have any other suggestions, thoughts or successes in managing your career to share? I am all ears. Please write back and share your experiences. With a little guidance and effort, you can have a successful career story to tell your grandkids. Take charge of your career and don’t leave it to chance.
Steven B. McKinney is the founder & President of McKinney Consulting Inc. (IRC Korea) a partner firm of IRC Global Executive Search Partners (Top 3 Globally) with over 17 years of experience as a consultant in executive search and leadership consulting placing 100’s of executives in multinational companies in Korea and Asia-wide. He earned the distinction of Certified Master Coach from Behavioral Coaching Institute and a certificate in Leadership Coaching Strategies from Harvard University. Previously he managed global footwear R&D efforts for Adidas International and oversaw manufacturing production for Reebok International. He serves on various boards which include the American Chamber of Commerce Korea, The Korea Foreign Schools Foundation and is a Co-founder of the Korea Business Leaders Alliance. In 2007 he was awarded Honorary Citizenship of Seoul.