Here is a little quiz for you just to set the scene. What is the best source of opportunities for management level jobs?
A. Job Search Websites
C. Company Career Sites
D. Internal Job Boards
Whichever you selected your answer is wrong. Read on and I’ll explain why.
After graduating from university, I probably set the world record of job applications. Hand on heart I’m not exaggerating – I applied for over 500 jobs and had over 30 interviews before I got my first job. After this bitter experience I promised myself that I’d never again expose myself to the elements like this and I’d take personal control of my career progression.
Here is what I’ve learnt over the last 16 years:
1. YOU need to be in charge
This is where I come back to the opening quiz. The brutal truth is that the best jobs simply don’t make it to any job search / career site and not even to your own company’s internal job board. The key word here to remember is RECOMMENDATION. This may be internal recommendation by hiring managers or external recommendation by headhunters. When all recommendations fail the leftover jobs, and only the leftovers are progressed through the official channels. The learning? You need to be recommendation ready!
For internal recommendations: see step 2-5.
For external recommendations: read my other article that will help you to be easily found by headhunters.
2. YOU need a career progression plan
It all starts with you. You need to decide what you want to become. Seneca's thought fits here perfectly: “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable.” A 5-year plan will do to kick things off - start with the final destination “port” and work out your way with interim ports that will take you there.
Next you need to make sure that decision makers around you also know about your route map so when favourable winds do rise they will remember you. Once you have the master plan share it with your line manager for buy-in, file it with HR and make sure that at least twice a year you discuss your progress with them.
3. YOU need a mentor
This 3rd party person is vital to validate your plan and to push you through thick and thin. He/she can be a professional career coach, or better still a senior manager / executive in your own company who should challenge you along the way. If your company has an official platform for this apply through the programme, if it doesn’t exist go through the back door: line manager > HR > mentor.
Keep in mind that you have to avoid even the appearance of jumping over someone’s head, so always stay clear of your own function and most definitely don’t choose the boss of your line manager as your mentor. No matter how clever and well connected you are, you can’t progress without the support and approval of your line manager. He/she is your number 1 ally, your mentor is only number 2.
4. YOU need to build up your profile
Now that everyone important around you knows your ambitions make yourself visible to your organisation. Employee engagement forums? Cross-departmental projects? Pilot trainings? Coffee & cake sessions with the CEO? Attend them all and make your voice heard!
Keep learning, keep networking, keep bridging & bonding. Above all: stay humble and approachable along the way.
5. YOU need to be balanced
A word of caution to finish things off. Please always remember that your career is a MEANS to an end and NOT the “end” itself. Find your purpose in life first and then work on your career progression that allows you to realise that goal. If you do it the other way around you may have a track record of success but no sense of achievement, team building events but no sense of belonging, colleagues & ex-colleagues but no real friends, material possessions but no contentment…
So, are YOU in charge of your career?
Take that map and start sailing!
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About the writer:
Zoltan is a well-rounded international executive leader. Having spent 15+ years in various management and leadership roles in the automotive industry he decided to put his expertise to best use as an executive search consultant.
With a truly holistic view of and first-hand exposure to the automotive & luxury industries Zoltan offers a very unique proposition as a headhunter. With his multi-brand, multi-national and multi-functional experience he is set to succeed in bringing first class talents to businesses worldwide.