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Suggestions for Managing Your Career

Take responsibility for your career development. You operate in a world of "free agency," where a successful career is built by maintaining flexibility and keeping your skills and knowledge up to date.


Know yourself. Know your strengths and weaknesses. What talents can you bring to an employer? Personal career management begins by being honest with you.
Commit to lifelong learning. Learning and job preparation doesn't end with your formal education. Today's dynamic environment requires you to be continually "going to school" -if not taking formal courses, then expanding on-the-job experience, reading books and journals in order to keep your skills current, and the like.
Balance your specialist and generalist competencies. You need to stay current within your technical specialty. But you also need to develop general competencies that give you the versatility to react to an ever-changing work environment.
Leverage your competitive advantage. Generally speaking, the more training necessary to do a job and the fewer people who have that training, the greater your security and influence.
Develop your communication skills. If you want to differentiate yourself positively from much of your competition, become adept at writing memos, making standup presentations, and verbally expressing your ideas clearly and succinctly.
Get a mentor. Most successful people say that they've had one or more mentors early in their careers and that these mentoring relationships played important roles in their later success.
Build and maintain network contacts. Networking refers to establishing good relations with others in order to accomplish your goals. In a world of high mobility, you need to develop and maintain a wide range of contacts. Join national and local professional associations, attend conferences, and network at social gatherings.
Document your achievement. Seek jobs and assignments that will provide increasing challenges and that will also offer objective evidence of your competencies.
Manage your reputation. Without appearing as a braggart, let others both inside and outside your current organization know about your achievements.
Consider yourself a brand.In today¡¯s free-agent market, you have to distinguish yourself from your competitors. To do this, it can help to consider you a brand. ¡°Brand you¡± means that you have to create a unique identity that differentiates you from other brands.
Keep your options open. Always have contingency plans prepared that you can call on when needed. You never know when your group will be eliminated, your department downsized, your project canceled, or your company acquired in a takeover. "Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst" may be clich¨¦, but it's still not bad advice.
Copyright 2005 PAR Management Consultancy Ltd. All Rights Reserved.