You’ve got to love it! I did a quick search on the term “career management”. What shows up are a lot of websites that are from universities and placement firms. In my opinion, these websites are often of limited usefulness.
Here is a wholistic definition of career management:
Career management is the combination of structured planning and the active management choice of one’s own professional career. The outcome of successful career management should include personal fulfillment, work/life balance, goal achievement and financial security.
This definition provides a framework for looking at your career regardless of where you are in your career. The two keywords are structured and active. You’ve got to be involved almost on a day to day basis to ensure that the decisions you make that affect your career are aligned with your goals. As I mentioned before, this is a planning exercise that is not cast in concrete. Things change. But if you take your eye off the ball, you will go the wrong direction.
Let me give you an example from my own experience that is one point. I’m jumping ahead a bit here so I’ll return to this in later posts.
In every office, there is office politics. You can’t get away from it. And if you try to get away from it, it will come looking for you. I’ve never really understood how this political episode of office life gets started, but it’s there. So when I was working at one of the many banks that I worked in, there we two rabble rousers. What I mean by that is people who engage in politics much to your detriment. One fellow that I worked with was an expert. He would crank you up, complain and then feed the boss information on the malcontents.
Here is an incident that occurred to me that was fatal. The Bank had acquired an investment bank. In the course of that happening, two individuals were competing for the position of department head, one from the Bank and one from the investment bank. I was being interviewed by the investment bank group head. He told me that he was looking for our opinions on how to improve the group, better structure, better training, all of that good stuff. At the same time, he asked me what I thought about my boss.
I was pretty naive. I answered the question honestly.
A few months later I was in the washroom with one of my colleagues. We were discussing our boss. Guess what, there was one person in one of the cubicles. It was the boss.
A couple months later, my boss prevailed over the investment bank group head and guess what happened. I was fired.
The problem with career management advice
When you look at much of the career management advice, it deals with the what, not the how. I needed real life examples to help me deal with career matters. Not generic advice on networking, resume writing and other such topics.
They don’t tell you the do’s and don’t of finding a job or changing jobs. That I’ll discuss later.