It is all too easy to get lost in the day-to-day minutia of work and forget that each of those days is supposed to stand for something in your career trajectory. Taking charge of your career development must be a conscious act. In an article for Harvard Business Review, Dorie Clark shares four tips to do it and then provides terrific examples on how to execute them:
- Force yourself to set aside time.
- Get clear on the next steps.
- Invest in deep work.
- Build your external reputation.
A Clearer Career
Lots of people will tell you to set aside time to think about your personal development, but Clark shares a unique tip for how to do it: Set up a “mastermind group” with some friends/colleagues, where you all talk about your big career goals and how you intend to reach them. Challenge each other to try harder and consider new options. Peer pressure can be pretty effective in the right dose!
Here is another unique tip on how precisely you can carve out your path to reaching your goals:
… one technique you can use is “pre-writing your resume.” In this exercise, you put yourself five years into the future and write your resume as you envision it, including your new title and exact job responsibilities. The trick is that you also have to fill in the intervening five years, which prompts you to reflect on what specific skills you’ll need to develop in the interim, what degrees or accreditations you may need to earn, and what promotional path you’ll need to pursue in order to get there. Understanding that helps force your thinking and ensure that you’re taking the right steps (if a [master’s] degree is required for a position you want in three years, you better start applying now).
When you are just getting started in a career, the simple act of working hard and going the extra mile with assigned work is enough to ascend the ladder. But at a higher level, if you want to really get noticed, it becomes more about the work you choose to do rather than how much work you are doing. In these cases, you should be pursuing “deep work,” which is long, self-directed work that ultimately provides a dramatic and clear value for the business. Surprise them with something new and big.
Clark’s final tip is a straightforward one: Building your external reputation through networking, writing, etc. will give you career contingencies if your current employer does not appreciate your talents enough. It never hurts to be well-liked many people.
You can view the original article here: https://hbr.org/2016/12/think-strategically-about-your-career-development