You Don't Have A Career Strategy? Seriously?
I completed another course in leadership & management earlier this year (boooyar!) Much of the work involved researching and understanding the purpose of business and decision-making strategies. I won’t lie, some of it was boring as hell and I found myself browsing Facebook when my assignments were due in. But in true fashion, I slayed that course! Whilst busy slaying, the course reminded me of the importance of strategies in our lives overall.
The word ‘strategy’ sounds so serious. It sounds like something connected to business plans, maybe world domination, but let’s break it down and keep it real. A strategy is a plan or path as to how a certain goal or objective will be fulfilled. It’s a plan that takes you from A-Z.
What is a career strategy?
Your career strategy outlines the steps that you’ll take in order to achieve your career goals. Simple!
It starts with your vision
A career strategy starts with what you see yourself doing in x number of years. It then goes on to outline the steps that you’ll take in order to realise your vision. These steps may involve practical things such as gaining relevant qualifications. It can also cover intangible areas such as, dealing with any negative beliefs you hold about your progression and re-evaluating your values.
Your strategy doesn’t have to be perfect
You might not know each and every step that’ll get you from your current role to the one you desire. Yet, as you begin to pull it together, you’ll see where there are gaps, which are areas where you may need to call on others for support.
For example, if your main goal is to progress into a management role within your organisation, your initial strategy may look something like this:
o Pick up a current job description for the role or similar.
o Carry out a self-assessment of where you are right now, in relation to the requirements of the role. Recognise your strengths and be honest with yourself around areas you need to develop.
o Identify your transferable skills. Check this article to learn how to do this if you’re unsure.
o Discuss your career progression goals with your manager to identify potential ways that you can develop any skills that may be weaknesses right now. This may include on the job training, taking on additional responsibilities or other development opportunities. Consider external influences that may have an impact on your career, e.g developments in industry standard qualifications.
o Consider realistic timelines for reaching your goal.
o Invest in yourself. Hire a career coach or mentor who can support you in your development & help you stay on track. Why go it alone when you can make progress far quicker with someone unbiased, who’s 100% in your corner?
o Practice working on any self-limiting beliefs daily
o Review your progress within a realistic timescale.
o Seek feedback from those around you, especially your manager.
o When you feel you’re ready, apply for supervisory/management roles.
o If opportunities for progression within your organisation are scarce, look at other employers in your field.
o Be proactive in seeking feedback on your applications.
It can be this simple.
As with business, your strategy may change as things change unexpectedly. Life happens. The main thing is not losing sight of your overall vision as this will inform just about everything that you do, work-wise.
Why you need one
It can be so easy to get caught up in the day to day routine of going to work and trying to have a life outside of work, that time just passes you by. Before you know it, a year has passed and you’re exactly where you were 365 days ago.
Having a career strategy helps you:
o To focus on your end goal
o To get through those trying days where you wonder why you bother
o To recognise just how much progress you’re making
o To actually fulfill the vision you have!
Having just one of these benefits is great but create your own career strategy and you can have them all.
Go ahead and be the CEO of your career.
Blog post also published on She Leads Africa