Clarifying Career Path Confusion for Early Careerists
A very common issue occurring in workplaces everywhere is that people are confused by what “success” will look like for them in terms of their own career. The confusion started over the last 20 years when organizations began to flatten. We were all taught that success meant, “climbing the corporate ladder.” The problem with this was that the rungs of the ladder were being removed. Today career paths are more like climbing a rock wall than a ladder by creating breadth.
So how do we explain this to early careerists who are eager to progress but don’t really understand the rules of the game? You are responsible for owning your career and running your own race.
What does it take to own your own career?
1. Before you start fretting about your next title, focus first on becoming a subject matter expert in your present role. Sometimes people are so concerned about their title they are not paying attention to the task at hand today.
2. Act as a leader every day. If you come in with the mentality of a leader when you are an individual contributor the title will come to you. Build your brand every day.
3. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else. Everyone comes with a different resume, skill set, education, life experience and family background. As a result, how people progress is determined by all of those factors.
4. Define success by what it means to you and don’t let anyone else define it for you.
5. Be patient with yourself. When you are early in your career you have to understand the first few years are all about building a solid foundation that will provide the springboard for your future progress. You can’t short circuit experience; it simply takes time to gain subject matter expertise.
6. Read, read, read. I don’t mean just business books. I mean everything that you can get your hands on to learn about your industry, the world, pop culture etc. It will help you become a well-rounded and interesting individual.
7. Learn about the industry and business that you are working in. This means getting out of your chair and talking to as many people as you can internally to really understand what is going on outside your immediate sphere of focus.
8. Get LinkedIn. You have no idea how powerful your network will be in twenty years, so build it now.
9. Network, network, network! Join associations, alumni groups, user groups etc. You never know where those connections will take you.
10. Once you have followed these tips then go to your manager to let them know what your interests are. Do not hesitate to ask for any help they can give to open doors for you.
Building a career is a marathon not a sprint! Make the most of each day as you build your foundation.