A guaranteed way to avoid issues with your career path is by taking responsibility for it. In the past, companies invested in developing and advancing their staff. It made sense since most people stayed with a company for a significant amount of time. Today it’s your responsibility to establish your career goals and then figure out how you’re going to acquire skills and experience, and how to find the best environment in which to use them.
There are a few potential problem areas to watch out for when you take control of your career. The first is getting too comfortable. When you land in a job with a good manager and fun teammates, it’s easy to lose focus on your objective. While having a good relationship with your manager is extremely important in terms of career opportunities, s/he has their own agenda. What they want for you may not be what you want for yourself. You need to advocate for yourself and pay attention to national or global factors that can affect your sector and your role. Review your career objectives regularly to determine when you should move on.
If you believe that your work speaks for itself, you aren’t taking responsibility for making people aware of your value. This is not about calling attention to yourself for attention’s sake. Because companies often have lean staffing and a fast pace, management will generally not have first-hand knowledge of your work. It’s up to you to make sure people know the value you provide—without being a braggart. That way the opportunities you need to uplevel your skills will come your way.
Finally, remember that all jobs are temporary. Companies don’t even know if your job or the product you work on will be there in the future. Sometimes your skills, as brilliant as they seem, become obsolete. Staying plugged into the market will help you anticipate this scenario and position you well for your next gig.
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