Your manager is not in charge of your career.
(Never forget that.)
I’ve ran into lots of people who’ve made the mistake of waiting for their manager to: give them an earned raise, talk about their accomplishments to higher-ups and pat them on the back for a job well done. (Hint: Great managers do these things. They rarely have the power to give you a raise without running it by executive management first.) Those who don’t take charge of their carers…are usually…bitter and unmotivated after years of not seeing results.
Don’t let this be you!
Because you’re very smart and proactive, I’ve come up with 6 ways you can take charge of your career today:
- Make LOTS of friends. Most people are sadly mistaken when they believe their next career opportunity will come from shooting off a resume into the career portal black hole. Waiting for months, and hoping to at least get an interview. I’ve lost track of the number of companies I applied to over the past year. 82% of my interviews were from meeting hiring managers and referrals from friends.
- Get a mentor (or multiple mentors)! They don’t have to be a VP in your organization. (Although this is really nice to have 🙂 ) They’ll have valuable industry knowledge and can help you build your network. See a Program Manager you would love to meet? Don’t be afraid to reach out to the or ask your mentor for an introduction! S/he may be able to help you reach people who may not be easily accessible.
- Don’t wait for validation, apply now! A lot of times we think we need the green light from others (managers, co-workers, friends and family) before we can apply to a job we really want. *Sigh* I’ve been here (and still struggle with this). You do not have to be the “perfect candidate”. Yes, the competition is fierce. You have to focus on presenting the best version of YOU in everything…the resume, the interview, follow up, everything. It’s not always the person with the highest GPA or the most credentials. It’s attention to detail and remembering the small things that others forget.
- Market yourself like a master. Look at the roles and descriptions of your industry. Read the job descriptions carefully. Often times you will forget all of your job responsibilities. You can use that information to beef up your resume. Your resume is your #1 marketing tool (when people have never met you in-person). Getting this right leaves the right first impression on hiring managers and recruiters.
- Be Nosy. Pay attention to trends in your industry…especially the competition. Don’t believe the hype that is pumped out from your company’s newsletters. Take an objective view, and pay attention to the media attention your company (and your company’s competitors) are getting. Did your company’s competition just win a large contract? In the development stages of launching a new life-changing product? This is all good info to know if you want to stay ahead of the game. It may be a great time to stay put (look at internal opportunities) or jump ship. You’ll never know if you don’t pay attention to the trends in your industry.
- Strive to be (more) AWESOME! Develop yourself professionally. This does not always translate into another degree and a professional certification. Did you take a Project Management boot camp? Gave a presentation at an industry conference? Volunteer at a non-for-profit? Create a separate category on your resume and LinkedIn profile for these kinds of activities. It will definitely help you stand out from the competition.
There you go! This list is meant to help you get started in taking charge of your career. All of these points are from my personal experience. They helped me go from entry level engineer to mid-level management in 1.5 years after joining a new company. If I can do it, you can too! I’m here to help. 🙂
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What else can you do improve your career? What steps can you take now to stand out from others in the competitive job market?
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