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managing your career

Effective Career Management

At one time in history, careers seemed to manage themselves. Once a vocational choice was made, individuals would often stay in the same occupational role throughout their working lives. For many, there would be some upward progression, from front-line worker to team lead, to unit supervisor for example, but that was not always the case. This linear career movement would often be with the same employer; celebration of a 35-year career, where retiring with a pension and the proverbial gold watch was the norm.

However, over the last 20 years, or so, there has been a dramatic shift in how careers develop. One job for life is no longer commonplace; instead, people are more likely to shift their paid work, perhaps multiples times over the course of their working lives. Some of these will be small shifts such as the same role for different employers; others will be much more dramatic changes, with individuals completely “re-careering.” 

Gone are the days we ask “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, replacing it with “what do you want to do, for now?”

Effective career management is more than simply deciding on a career for life; it isn’t a static, one-time process. Instead, it involves a continued focus on the workplace, the local and global labour market, industry trends, and how individuals can find a “best fit for now” according to their skills, interests, values, and lifestyle considerations

Pickerell, 2006

In this new world of work, the critical task facing workers is to be active drivers of their own careers, rather than passive passengers.

This helps ensure careers are developing in a way that:

Aligns to personal goals and aspirations

Attends to changes in other aspects of life

Honours individual values, skills, and interests and how these evolve over time

Acknowledges external factors such as labour market conditions, local and global, and technological advances that may impact specific work roles

In many ways effective career management follows the same process individuals engage in when exploring career options and making initial career decisions.

It is this ongoing process of taking stock and acknowledging that a change in a career plan, even a big change, is not an indicator of a previous poor choice but simply a reality of life… 

People change, grow, evolve… why shouldn’t their careers do the same?

When considering professional options, having a strong mentorship connection might help you decide which path to choose. However, while 37% of students don’t know where to go for a good mentor, those who do have a mentor have a better chance of getting and keeping work in their profession. Furthermore, individuals who choose to have a mentor are five times more likely to get promoted and feel confident about their career. Mentees believe that having a mentor helps them manage their career by gaining new knowledge both before and after they start working. It is crucial to understand how to seek out a mentor, what to expect, and the benefits that come with building and maintaining a healthy relationship with your mentor.  

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Watch "Building Your Career Your Way" Hosted by Erin Hatfield and Dr. Deirdre Pickerell.