During these times of uncertainty and anxiety, there are some things we can do to take control of our lives…at least our professional lives.  

Whatever your field and whatever level you are in an organization, there is one BIG thing you can do for yourself that will open up doors for your career.  

Create your own Strategic Career Plan! 

Making a plan is not rocket science…it is a ONE page tool to help you design your career progression.  It will also provide a baseline against which you can measure success. Take a good, long look at where you want your career to go and how much effort you are willing to make to get there; whether your destination is a board seat or a new executive role.

First, describe your role in one sentence!  Yes, you can do it in one sentence. For example:  “I drive shareholder value by evaluating opportunities and implementing corporate contracts in the US.”   If you can’t, then perhaps you don’t understand what role you actually play in your own organization.  

Understand your unique value proposition (UVP) Your value proposition demonstrates how your work and the way you do your work aligns with the strategic plan and contributes to specific, positive business outcomes (e.g., “I build business relationships that fund research and medical advancements…” or  “I design technological innovations so work gets done more effectively and efficiently…”).

Once you identify your value proposition, you will understand the impact of  your contribution to the success of the business.   Your unique value proposition allows you to position yourself internally as an executive who can help the business grow or add real value to a new organization. 

Knowing how to promote your UVP to key stakeholders and colleagues gives you the opportunity to stand out, and the credibility that becomes the foundation of a personal brand.

Surround Yourself with Powerful People

Your network is your power

A career is not built in a vacuum!  The biggest key to building power is to surround yourself with powerful people—your network is your power.  

A powerful network increases your visibility; that visibility increases your influence and status, which in turn increases your ability to build and maintain the right kind of relationships (both internally and externally) and get more done through them.  The time you spend on this has an exponential impact on your status and power which, of course, increases your visibility and influence. 

Your network is the most strategic and valuable asset in your arsenal! 

Allies and champions can open up doors to new opportunities as you work your long-term career plan  A powerful network gives you the support and encouragement you need to nurture your ambition and overcome obstacles.

Actively manage your career- get a sponsor!

Both male and female – an executive champion who will open doors, risk their reputation or credibility to lift you higher. Be a sponsor yourself.

Having a sponsor is the most powerful relationship you can have to help you reach your career goal.

Sponsors give you advice and take action on your behalf. They have the influence to create visibility and opportunities for you.

Avoid being the “go to person”

Trying to be “that person” who everyone goes to for the answer or to get things done can actually impede your career progression. By presenting the image of someone who can operationalize a strategy, it may obscure the perception of you as someone strategic…a leader who can develop the strategy! 

Don’t be the person who believes that their work alone will get them recognition to move ahead. Or that staying late at the office with your head down will be recognized.

Let go of the belief that your work alone will get you ahead.  That kind of thinking prevents you from focusing on strategic networking which is vital to your career.

Make sure you are in a workplace environment that offers a chance to thrive.

An environment where you areoffered opportunities that increase your skills and for which your success will be recognized…and in which you are comfortable are important keys to success.  Finding that environment requires homework and due diligence, prior to accepting a position and the strength to walk away from a job offer that doesn’t advance your career goals, even if it means turning your back on a tempting compensation package. 

Make sure you have clear milestones and expectations

Do you really understand what it takes to bring your career up a notch?  Do you understand the expectations set by your plan? Are you prepared to do the hard work?

Stop praying for a promotion and make it happen. Put yourself out there and take a risk!

Creating your own strategic career plan allows you to maximize your opportunities and feel more in control of your career — a pretty nice place to be!

Are you ready to take control of your career?


  • Jan Molino

    President & CEO -

    Jan Molino is the President and CEO of the consulting firm, Aspire Ascend, LLC based in Washington, DC. Bringing her unique combination of corporate and non-profit management experience to the firm, she focuses on providing a comprehensive portfolio of career building, board development services and coaching programs to enhance the success of women in leadership positions and build power as a female executive. She works with executive women across the full spectrum of industries, businesses, organizations and the nonprofit arena who aim to build lasting legacies of outstanding boardroom and C-suite performance, delivering board development, leadership training, executive coaching, career management, Women’s Leadership Forums and public speaking on women in leadership.