Getting Smart About Managing Your Career

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Executives, like everyone else, struggle with career decisions, paths, and strategies. Just because you’re on the executive team or that you report directly to the CEO, doesn’t mean that your CEO is aware of all your talents, has a vision of your capabilities and what you can achieve for the future of the organization, or that he or she is even vaguely aware of your career goals and how they fit with the organization’s strategic plan. So where does that leave you?

It leaves you in control. One of the research sources for this article suggests that career management used to be in the hands of the organization. I disagree. You are the one who must always take responsibility for the path of your own career. Just as good management requires strategic planning for the long-term future and the investment of time and resources, so does career planning. Resting on your laurels or being comfortable or thinking that you have arrived all ring the death knell for a successful career.

Another mistake is believing that career planning is just a continuous job search. In fact, you are often instructed that the best time to look for another job is as soon as you land a job. This is true, but there is much more to it than that. Think about life phases and how your needs, skills, attributes, and your life  and career goals change over time. This leads to one of the first steps in career management.

  1. Review your assets: Look at your skills and attributes you have on your current resume or CV. Do these still get you excited? Do you even still use them? Will you need them in the future? Do you still value them? Take an assessment that can help you discover skills and attributes that you do value or that you may have forgotten you even possess. Take a long look at how you want to use these for the future.
  2. Join a Board: This can either be a non-profit or not. Unless you are in the non-profit field, or have a passion for some cause, I recommend that it not be a non-profit board, the dynamics are different.
  3. Volunteer: Doing volunteer work keeps you connected to the community and performing a leadership role in charitable organizations is even better. Sometimes this can even lead to your next position.
  4. Back to school: If necessary, be willing to bite the bullet of time and expense of returning to school.
  5. Career coach: A career coach can help keep you focused and on track. A coach can be particularly helpful if you find yourself in a stressful situation. For example, if you are one of the many who don’t actively work on your career and find it necessary to change positions, a coach can help get you started more quickly and in a more organized manner than you might be able to do on your own. A trusted mentor can be helpful as well.
  6. Network, network, network: This is one of the most neglected tasks, yet one that should be an anchor throughout life. Be selective in your networking venues. Attend events in your industry or if you are making a change in the industry in which to wish to work. Go where the people are who are successful at doing what you want to do. Don’t neglect networking within your own organization if you wish to stay where you are but move up.
  7. Speaking and writing: Speaking and writing about your industry and your area of expertise in it, can draw people of influence to you. You will come across as the “go to expert” on a particular topic or industry.
  8. Branding: There is a lot of talk around companies and their brand. But individuals, at all levels of life, have a brand as well. Determine your brand, cultivate it, and make sure people know what you stand for, in other words, make sure people know what you stand for.

You can determine from this article that career building is not a once-in-a-while, periodic, or I’ll do it when I need it activity. Career building is management at its best. Remember, career building is not about the competition, it’s about what you want for your best life. Choose two or three items from the list that will work best for you and get started. Be smart, don’t leave your future to chance.

Thank you for reading this blog. If you would like more information on managing your career, call 404-320-7834, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit

Graphic Credit: Copyright: ismagilov


Fisher, A. (2011, October). 6 Career-Changing Strategies That Work.

Holloway, L.R. (2006, January). Mid-Career Strategies. Ebony. Jan2006, Vol. 61 Issue 3, p68-73. 3p. 3 Retrieved from Dekalb County Library.

Simmons, K. (2017, September). Executive Career Management: Three Strategies For Doing It Right.

Yeager, M. (2016, April). 6 Strategies for Building Your Executive Portfolio.

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