Owning Your Career


By Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans

To resuscitate your career, own it! This attitude is key. Take steps now to plan, build, and strengthen it. Here’s how:

  • Know yourself.
  • Know your options.
  • Know how to take action.

Know yourself

Examine your interests, values and work skills. What do you love to do? Ask yourself:

  • What accomplishments at work have made me feel particularly proud?
  • What makes me feel unique in this organization?
  • What kinds of things would I do if I could create my ideal workday?
  • What types of work do I avoid?

The things you do well, value highly, and like doing give you a basic map for planning your career. Ask others:

  • What are my overdone strengths? (Too much of a good thing.)
  • What two skills should I strengthen? How would it help me, given what I want to do?

Seek out your critics. Listen to them. Get clear about your missing skills and those skills you overdo.

Know your options

Look around your organization for trends, learning opportunities, and career options. You may be surprised to find projects, task forces, and jobs that will support your goals.

  • How much do you know about your organization, industry, and profession?
    • What are the major industry, economic, political, and social changes that will affect this organization?
    • What are the opportunities and problems ahead?
    • What counts for success here? How will that change in the future?

Not every step in a career has to be a step up. There are other options inside the organization to consider. Talk to your boss to learn about these possibilities:

  • Moving laterally – a change in job, but not necessarily a change in level of responsibility
  • Exploring – testing and researching changes without permanent commitment
  • Enriching – seeding the current job with more chances to learn and grow
  • Realigning – adjusting duties to reconcile them with other priorities and future possibilities

Imagine at least one move you could make in each of the above directions.

Know how to take action

Use this information to develop your plan. Be ready to answer these questions:

  • What new skills, knowledge, or abilities do I need to achieve my goals?
  • What are some short-term goals (3 to 6 months) that I could start on right now?
  • How can I gain new skills that will help me with my goals while in my current job?
    • What relevant experiences can I have through serving on committees and task forces?
    • Who in my network can help?

A clear plan of action turns goals into realities if you:

  • Write down your goals, steps and deadlines. Revise along the way.
  • Forge alliances with people who can help you.
  • Seek learning. Get training and experience to help you reach your goals.

Owning Your Career is doable if you look at yourself, look around and look ahead. You’re in charge of your career. You manage it within your company, within this economy and with the resources that you have.

This blog post was written for getAbstract by Beverly Kaye and adapted from Love It Don’t Leave It: 26 Ways to Get What You Want at Work Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. All rights reserved.

As an author, co-author, and editor, Dr. Kaye is a leading industry thought leader and innovator. Her titles include the international bestselling books, Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to StayLove It, Don’t Leave ItHelp Them Grow or Watch Them Go, and Up Is Not the Only Way: A Guide to Developing Workforce Talent.

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