There was a time not too long ago when careers were linear and predictable. You would start in an entry-level position and climb the corporate ladder upwards until you retire.
In 2022 though, that is no longer the case for many professionals. As Ben Reuveni, the CEO of AI-powered talent marketplace, Gloat, recently said: “Careers are no longer ladders. They are lattices of vertical and horizontal opportunities, shaped by personal and professional aspirations, in addition to company needs.”
In light of this, career management is more critical than ever.
Without it, you may find yourself taking career opportunities or making choices regarding your professional life that do not align with your goals, interests, or values, which can eventually take a toll on your mental, and even physical health.
To avoid such a fate, this article will explain what career management is, why it’s important, and what it consists of. It will also answer the question of whose job is career management by explaining the role you and your employer play in it.
What Is Career Management?
Career management is when you plan your career and actively manage the course it takes. The purpose of doing so is to help you achieve your short and long-term professional goals and make career decisions that support your strengths, interests, and values. Career management is also important because it can:
- Motivate and challenge you
- Give you a feeling of purpose
- Help you stay accountable to your professional vision
- Give you a sense of direction and control
It is not a one-time activity but something you should invest time and energy into regularly throughout your career.
The Role of Employees, Leaders, and Organizations in Career Management
Since career management is all about your career, it is your job to take charge of it. You may never be asked or told to do it, and therefore the responsibility for it rests entirely on your shoulders.
That does not mean that your leaders and organizations have no role in it. In fact, the best leaders and organizations will make an effort to support your career management efforts. For example, they may engage in career conversations with you, hold you accountable for your goals, provide coaching, and offer personalized development opportunities that align with your aspirations, such as stretch assignments or cross-functional training.
It is especially important for employers to do their part and engage in career management, given how difficult it is today to hire and retain employees. For example, Gallup found that 52% of employees who have voluntarily quit their job say their employer could have done something to prevent them from leaving. Meanwhile, McKinsey reported that 41% of people agreed the number one reason why they quit their recent job was because of a lack of career advancement or upward mobility. All of this is to say that career management doesn’t just benefit employees; it can also help employers attract and retain employees.
What Does It Look Like to Manage Your Career?
Careers that are fulfilling and engaging rarely happen by chance. If you want that type of career, then you have to plan it and actively work toward it. You do this by:
- Assessing your interests, skills, professional experience, and work values
- Researching potential job/career options
- Setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals
- Creating an action plan for your goals
- Writing a development plan
- Seeking out a mentor who will hold you accountable and act as a sounding board
- Networking with individuals in the job/career you want
- Investing in your professional development
- Revising your goals or timeline as your goals or needs change
Next Steps: Take Control of Your Professional Life with a Career Plan
If you want to take or regain control of your career, then career management is key. However, it can be difficult to know where to start. Fortunately, that’s where the Career Plan Workbook by Niagara Institute comes in. It will help you assess where you stand today, show you how to research potential careers, set SMART goals, and break down those goals into actionable steps so you can immediately begin managing your own career.