Taking More Control Over Your Career

September 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s easy to think sometimes that successful professionals are lucky.  But the fact is they encounter as many obstacles and roadblocks as anyone else. 

So how do they keep ahead of the pack and constantly get pay raises, promotions, and the best opportunities?  Because they are what I call “career smart“. They make choices, decisions, and take risks every day with the purpose of advancing their career.

Being career smart is NOT about accepting whatever job is handed to you, but instead it’s about finding opportunities inside that job, or elsewhere, that allow you to create a career that inspires you. 

Below are three strategies to help you be career smart and achieve a career that fills you with purpose, meaning, and passion!  

 

1.  Get into a career where you can thrive (not just survive!)

It’s impossible to thrive in a career if you’re just going through the motions at work.  If you’re walking around dull and listless (like the Clairol Herbal Essence girl before she shampoos her hair), then others are sure to see you that way.  You need to be in a career that challenges you, flexes your professional muscles, and excites you!
 
Think about what kind of work you WANT to be doing.  Identify three key ingredients you need in your career to be happy and fulfilled such as leading teams, working on creative projects, developing new technologies, etc.  Once you’ve defined the three key ingredients, then do whatever it takes to drive your career towards that vision. 
 

2.  Send the “right” messages.

Everything you do and say sends messages to your senior managers, clients, networking contacts and potential employers. Your words, actions, presentations, status reports, resume, and interview responses all shape the perceptions others have about you.

Send a crystal clear message that focuses on the value that you consistently deliver to a company or client. Your “value” is a unique blend of your strengths, professional accomplishments, and personal characteristics such as being a good leader, risk taker, problem solver, strategic thinker, etc.  All of these things combined make up your “value package” which makes you truly unique from a crowd of colleagues, business associates, and even job applicants.

The key is to role model the “value” that you provide by consistently demonstrating it, living it and breathing it.
 

3.  Be open to possibilities.

I love the funny saying, “If you want to make God laugh – tell him your plans.”  🙂 

One of the biggest mistakes I ALMOST made was declining the privilege of serving on the American Marketing Association’s National Council.  I naively was only looking at it as another volunteer opportunity that cut into my professional and personal life.  Fortunately, a mentor helped me see the bigger picture which was a tremendous gift that could strengthen my leadership skills, deepen my marketing expertise, broaden my professional network, and advance my career ten fold.  (After accepting the position and serving just one year, I was named President of the AMA’s National Council which advanced my career up to a completely new level.)

Be assertive, and aggressively seek out new career opportunities.  Give serious consideration to each and every possibility that comes your way. Never decline an opportunity without getting a fresh perspective from people in your circle whom you respect.  Whether you’re considering a new job, or a new assignment in your current organization, answer the questions, “What could be the best possible benefit?”  “Could this help me learn a new skill or strengthen a current skill?”  “Could this be a stepping stone to help me achieve my ultimate career goal?” 

Successful professionals aren’t lucky.  They are career smart.  They make choices, decisions, and take risks every day with the purpose of advancing their career.  So step up, branch out, and start being receptive to new possibilities.  There are always opportunities around you.  You just have to go after them! 

Your Assignment…

Become career smart!

Determine what kind of career you WANT.  Identify three key ingredients you need in your career to be happy and fulfilled such as leading teams, working on creative projects, developing new technologies, etc.

Then, start talking to managers, mentors, clients, and potential employers about the kind of responsibilities that you want.  By talking about the career you want, you’ll be much more likely to achieve it!

Finally, be receptive to new opportunities.  Whether it’s an opportunity for a new job, a new assignment, or even a volunteer position, ask yourself, “What could be the best possible benefit?”  “Could this help me learn a new skill or strengthen a current skill?”  “Could this be a stepping stone to help me achieve my ultimate career goal?”  When you start taking on new opportunities you’ll be one step closer to achieving a career where you can thrive – and not just survive!

How are you going to become career smart?  Share your ideas with me so I can see them and support you!! 🙂

 

About Career Coach Sherri Thomas
Sherri Thomas is a leading career coach who helps professionals transform and thrive in their career. She is a leading career coach, Huffington Post writer, globe trotting keynote speaker, and the 2013 Best Career Book author of “The Bounce Back – personal stories of bouncing back higher and faster after a layoff, re-org or career setback.” As a sought after media source, she has been featured in top news outlets including NBC-TV Phoenix, the Wall St. Journal, TIME, New York Daily News, Monster.com and many others. She loves traveling around the world and learning about other cultures, thrives in nature, and will always encourage you to go on what she calls a life changing Kenyan safari because the 30-hour flight journey “isn’t that bad.”

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