Published on 24th November 2022
Your career is a journey. Imagine you are on a bus. Are you the bus driver making all the critical decisions and determining the quality of the ride? Or are you the passenger sitting in the back seat? The bus driver is deciding on the route, the speed, when and where you stop along the way, and for how long. If there is a detour that misses your stop, you have no say in that. The passenger is passive. Obedient- just getting on and later getting off.
In so many ways, this is how we also manage our careers. I can ask the same question. Are you the executive of your career or just the employee? Are you the one making your critical career decisions, or are you just making sure that you show up on time, get the work done, and then go home?
Being the executive of your career is totally independent of your role or level within the company. It has nothing to do with whether you are in a leadership position or if you are an individual contributor at your job. Being the executive of your career is an attitude. A mindset that says that you are in control of you and that you are taking 100% responsibility for your career and professional development.
Being the executive of your career means that you have a vision or an idea of where you want to take your career. You have thought out a plan and a path to get there. You are proactively doing field research to learn more about the opportunities available to you and taking the initiative to learn new skills. Going out and networking to make the right level of connections. Making sure that you are joining the right professional and industry associations, so you can strategically gain visibility, knowledge, and develop the right relationships.
Companies train us to be good employees. They provide us with training when they feel it is warranted. They pay us an annual standard of living raises, and when a position becomes available, they let us know. Someone else manages our careers. It could be our manager or someone in HR. We wait for internal opportunities as other people are making critical decisions concerning our future. In truth, most of the time, no one is looking after your best interest.
Being the executive of your career means that you are an excellent employee. You do your work, you do it well, and you get along with everyone – up, down and across. However, you are doing it for yourself. You are doing it because you need a compelling story on your marketability. You don’t need to be externally motivated. You are already internally motivated with your career plans and desires.
You are not waiting for management and HR to reward you or to notice you. You are actively promoting yourself both internally for the next level-up as well as externally as a back-up plan.
Many people feel frustrated at work. Underappreciated and undervalued. Companies are not always fair or make the right decisions concerning our best interests. In today’s day and age, they don’t view it as their job to manage your career. It is your responsibility to actively manage your career path.
On the career highway, are you driving your bus?
First published on Damon Montal’s LinkedIn page, March 2020