Practice Proactive Career Management
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After You Get the Job: Practice Proactive Career Management

You may think of career management as involving just one task—finding a job—that you do only on an as-needed basis. But consistent and careful career management helps you do it all, from finding a new position to excelling at your current job to making new connections and meeting personal goals.

By Rebecca Hawk

Many people worry about career management only during the job search process. But proactive career management is just as important after you’ve landed a job you’re happy with and involves so much more than job search activities.

Career management requires a combination of making choices about your career trajectory and engaging in structured planning to stay on your chosen path. Its outcomes include both professional and personal fulfillment.

Career management also better equips you to weather the unexpected. Changes at organizations can lead to layoffs and decreased job satisfaction—or they may open up advancement opportunities. Plus, opportunities at different organizations often come along when you’re already employed. If you proactively manage your career, you’ll be ready to respond quickly to whatever comes your way.

If you proactively manage your career, you’ll be ready to quickly respond to whatever comes your way.

What can you do to proactively manage your career, even when you’re not actively job searching? Here are a few ideas:

Keep your professional profiles up-to-date. Update your resume, LinkedIn profile, and portfolio at least once a year. While your job duties may be essentially the same as they were a year ago, you’ve probably attended a conference or professional development event or taken on a new project or responsibility.

Build internal and external networking into your job. It’s easy to fall into a routine at work and to develop a small group of colleagues you interact with most often. Small, frequent networking activities—as quick as a walk around the block or a half-hour chat over coffee—can help you forge connections with different coworkers in your organization and learn something new. Build and maintain your network of contacts outside your organization by making time for an electronic or in-person check-in with one or two such contacts each month.

Find a career coach. A career coach can be an excellent resource to you, no matter what part of your career journey you’re currently on. For example: If you’re vying for a promotion but aren’t sure how to make your case, a career coach can help you identify your achievements and practice negotiating. (Not sure where to find a career coach? Association CareerHQ has relationships with several credentialed coaches with expertise in the association sector.)

Define your goals. If you don’t have clear goals for your professional life, it’s time to set some. Defining and working toward short- and long-term goals will make your work more focused and purposeful, and you’ll have something of note to put on that updated resume.

Commit yourself to continual learning. Staying up to date on new technology and research conveys that you’re a lifelong learner and committed to being a valuable asset to your organization. While conferences and association events make for great learning opportunities, they’re not the only avenues: You can also stay informed by reading industry-specific blogs and newsletters and setting up Google alerts for your professional interest areas (for example, “hybrid membership models” or “meeting trends”).

Get involved in your community. Your community could mean any number of things—your industry’s professional associations, for example, or your organization’s local community. If your association represents pediatricians, getting involved with your local children’s hospital will give you a heightened awareness of the needs of your organization’s community. Bonus: You’ll more than likely make a few friends in the process.

Have colleagues conduct mock interviews. Even if you’re not actively looking for a job, being prepared for an impromptu interview or presentation can always come in handy. (If you’re interested in an in-depth preparation for these opportunities, check out ASAE’s upcoming Women’s Executive Forum.)

Proactive career management will look different for everyone: It all depends on where you are in your career journey and the personal goals you’ve set. But it almost always comes down to being more engaged in your community and always striving to learn something new. Those are traits that any employer would value and that will serve you well throughout your career.

Rebecca Hawk is the marketing specialist for Association CareerHQ. Email: [email protected]

Career Development