No matter if you are early in your career, mid-career or late in your career, having an eye on your career path will help you make better decisions during your climb to the top.
Here are some basic tenants for managing your career path:
- There is no one right path to a successful career. While there may be some natural career progressions to follow (at least initially) – successful people did not follow a rigid path to the top. Careers progress two ways – 1) within a specific discipline and 2) branching out and learning about all aspects of the business. Getting clear on what interests you will help guide you on some of your career decisions.
- Experience will trump education. An Ivy League education may get you in the door of an organization, however, experiences and results you deliver will make your career. Seek out positions that build your experience base and not job titles.
- Mentors will open doors. Build relationships with mentors at the senior leadership level. Your mentor can give specific guidance on what positions to take, whom to work for and make introductions to key people who will support your career climb.
- Work on your communication skills. As you move up the career ladder, clear written and oral communication skills are essential to your success. Requirements increase to work with others, build teamwork, manage conflict and cultivate relationships. Many organizations do not offer “soft skills” training and development so make it your personal responsibility. Consider working with a leadership or executive coach if you want to build your skills and excel in this area.
- Sometimes you have to leave an organization to move up. It’s easy to get pigeon-holed in an organization. You may make a few miss-steps or damage an important relationship and find your career progression at a halt. If you are doing well, companies will try to lure you with a promotion or new responsibilities. Ensure that there are future career steps you can take in the new organization or be ready to make another move in the next few years.
If you follow these tenets to guide decisions you make in your career, you will have a solid start to building a successful career.