How Much Time Do You Spend Assessing Your Career Goals?

By: Ed Kennedy

Working in recruiting allows me to have a unique perspective on people and their career goals.  I have had over a thousand career discussions with people ranging from the C-Suite to people looking for their first ‘real job’.  Most of those conversations take place with passive candidates (people working and not actively applying to other roles), and I am always surprised when I hear that someone dislikes their job but are not actively searching for their next opportunity.  People generally say the same thing as why they are staying.  Some of the popular answers are they do not want to been seen as disloyal, comfortable schedule, promotion down the road, upcoming bonus/vacation, or they feel stuck in their career path.  These are all valid, and I am not trying to minimize, but many of these can be worked around with time and full disclosure with a new or existing company.

Whether you are actively looking, love your current job/company, or maybe thinking of looking after the holidays, I think it is good to spend five hours a month thinking about your long term career goals and assessing if you are on the right path. If you love your current company, set up an informal cup of coffee or lunch with your manager once a month to talk about how you can grow, especially if there is an area you want to get into or job responsibility you want to add to your skill set.  This will show initiative and could give you strategies on how to grow quickly.  Maybe your manager or department chair will give you an area to work on that upper management cares about that was unknown to you prior to the meeting.  Bare minimum the conversation will be positive for both sides.  This should also be the first step if you are unhappy with your current role.  Do not go in there blasting your current situation, but do talk about things that would make you happier.

Whether you are active or not, LinkedIn profiles are very important.  They are starting to become as important, if not more important, than your resume.  I would make sure your profile is up to date and accurate with a recent photo in ‘professional’ attire.  You never know who is looking for someone like you, and it could be someone with your dream job or from a group you admire.  The job market is tight, and there is a war for talent across all industries.  I believe it wise to talk to all relevant recruiters (slight bias) because even if the role they are working on today is not a fit the role they have a week, year, or 5 years down the road could be ‘the one’.  Even if your industry is in high demand and you get a ton of calls/emails take the time out to be polite and say, “….please call when you have a role offering this salary, location, work/life, etc.”  You will be pleasantly surprised by that recruiters next call, assuming they are worth their salt.

If you are active in your search, there are many tools you can utilize to help you in your search outside of applying on company websites.  LinkedIn is a great tool.  Update your profile and click on the ‘open to new opportunities’ link.  They also have a job section, and sometimes even have the hiring manager or HR person attached to the job.  Reach out to them after applying to give yourself the leg up on the competition. If you are looking to make a career change, look for folks who recently made a similar switch and pick their brain. You can also join a Facebook/LinkedIn group for those type of professionals, and ask how those people broke into their current field.  People like to help.  They will give you great pointers on trainings or people to talk with to help you make the change.

Your goals may seem far away today, but start putting the wheels in action.  There is no time like the present to start changing your situation for the better.  We generally spend more time at work than we do with our own families, and you should feel fulfilled by your career, not filled with dread every Monday morning.  Some of these changes will be hard and uncomfortable, but you cannot put a price on feeling satisfied with your current situation.

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