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Driving Your Own Career

Lately in this incredibly candidate-driven market, I have seen posts outlining “Hot Jobs” and “We’re Hiring” but as I was thinking about this it occurred to me, how many of you have really sat down to chart out a career strategy for yourself? Are you just cruising along waiting for something to happen TO you or are you being intentional about making solid career decisions FOR yourself? Is your career in an autonomous vehicle or are you at the wheel?

More than 80% of the candidates I have placed in the past 3 years (since I started tracking this metric) were not actively looking for a “hot job” when I called them. They weren’t actively looking but they were not necessarily planning to retire for their current firm either- most were just cruising along, “making the donuts” and not being intentional. My conversations start out as a soft inquiry about where they are in their career today and more importantly where do they want to go? What challenge do they want in the next position that they may not get if they stay where they are? How many people are in line ahead of them for that next career move? Are they getting the proper career mentoring from someone within the walls of their company? What shocks me so often is how complacent some people are about their own career. It’s as if they are waiting for someone else to be driving their career and not them.

It’s a good thing to be thinking about this at least once a year. If your company does regular annual reviews I suggest sitting down in a quiet area for an hour or two with a notepad and really thinking and reflecting about what you accomplished in the past year. What hurdles did you overcome? What have you accomplished? What is the next career challenge for you and what’s the timing on that? Does the next step include more education whether formal (as in a Master’s Degree) or informal such as getting a certification in your area of expertise? Will your company support and encourage this effort?

I believe that sometimes when you speak to a recruiter, some of these thoughts and ideas begin to bubble up to the surface and that’s never a bad thing. It doesn’t mean that you are going to go run out and look for a new job (although it might). Rather, it’s a careful, thoughtful and self-reliant way to take your career by the horns and drive it where YOU want to go.


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