Early in my career, I took a customer service job for a telecommunications company outside of Boston.
Right after the initial 90-day probationary period, they hired me full time. (Good news!)
Unfortunately, within a month or two after that, they moved me to a new team with a different boss, and my work completely changed (Bad news!)
So I left!
Could I have “toughed it out” and stayed after the change?
But this new role wasn’t what I WANTED to be doing. And more importantly – it wasn’t getting me closer to any of my goals.
And that’s the main point I want to talk about here…
When you’re working in a job, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks. Your boss is giving you tasks to complete, you’re working under tough deadlines, etc.
And it’s easy to forget about the “big picture” – what you WANT in your career, and what direction things are going.
You see, you’re not just an employee.
You’re also the CEO of your career.
You’re responsible for guiding it in the direction you want (and deciding what that direction is.)
Nobody else will do this for you.
So here are two key steps I recommend to become CEO of your career:
- Dedicate time to thinking about (and writing down) where you want to be in 1-2 years and beyond. Think of this as your “CEO” time. Don’t multi-task. Don’t combine this with other work. Don’t do it when you’re tired after a long workday. This is crucial stuff for you, as CEO of your career!
- Examine your situation regularly (I do once per month) to make sure your day-to-day work is moving you closer to those longer-term plans.
And if things aren’t moving toward your goals, it’s time to make a change.
You don’t always need to make a huge, drastic change like I did when I quit!
If you find your day-to-day work isn’t getting you closer to where you want to be, you have a number of options…
You can ask to change teams in your current company if that’ll get your current work more aligned with your long-term goals.
You can ask for one or two additional responsibilities in your current role, too.
I did this in the first company I worked for as a Recruiter!
I wanted to keep recruiting, but I thought it’d be really neat to start training new team members, so I asked and my boss said, “yes.”
That helped me build leadership skills and understand recruiting better, too. It gave me new skills and qualifications and I didn’t even need to change jobs!
And if your current job/role can’t meet your needs, then you can quietly start job searching.
If you do need to make a job change, use the tools around you! You don’t have to go it alone.
After doing this analysis, maybe you decide you do need to make a big change.
You don’t have to go it alone, though! Use everything available to you.
Search for LinkedIn groups for job seekers so you can share ideas with other people in similar situations.
Follow more experts on LinkedIn, or take courses via LinkedIn Learning.
Invest in a couple of books, audiobooks, or other small purchases that you think might help you. (You can learn better interview skills, negotiation, body language/confidence, job search networking, and much more!)
Trust me, you’re not going to care about spending $9 on an Amazon book if it lands you a job paying $10,000 more. Don’t be afraid to INVEST in yourself. You’re worth it 😉
There are so many resources for job seekers online, yet I see a lot of job seekers struggling through everything alone.
So don’t forget to research and use the amazing tools available online these days!
What if you’re not sure how to get to the job/career you want?
One other trick I love if you’re unsure how to get to the point you want in your career:
You can “reverse engineer” how other people got to that point you’re trying to reach.
For example, let’s say you want to become a Producer for a large news publication or magazine.
You can search LinkedIn for the job title “Producer”.
Make sure you’re searching for “People” only:
Then you can narrow it down so you only see the larger companies – the types of employers you’d want to work for.
Now open up some people’s profiles and start working backward through their career history.
What steps did they take to get to this job?
What previous jobs did they hold?
What types of employers did they work for?
What else did they do to reach this point? (Education, internships, etc.)
This is a great way to set the right path for your career and plan out the steps you should follow.
You can’t check if you’re on-track without laying out the steps/pieces of experience you need to gain first.
So make sure you decide what you’re aiming at first. Only then can you go hit it!
I realize this might sound cliche, obvious, or both. But I’ve seen so many job seekers NEVER sit down and think about where they actually want to end up!
And then, of course, it’s no surprise that they don’t enjoy what they ended up with… because someone else decided for them.
They took whatever tasks, role changes, and everything else their boss handed them… without taking control.
That’s what I hope this article can help you avoid.
Originally published at LinkedIn.com