What Does Career Success Mean to You? Take Control of Your Destiny.
Career success means something different for everyone. There is no “right answer” to what it means. What is success to one person is not necessarily success to another. Think about what career success means for you in particular. The following steps will enable you to have a clearer picture of what success means for you and will help you to determine if you can reach that level of success at your current organization or if you need to think about a different path to reach career success. If you can reach that level of success at your current organization, start taking steps to map out a plan to reach your goal (see suggestions below).
First, define career success. What does “career success” specifically mean to you? Write it down. Does it mean reaching an executive leadership role within the organization, running a particular department or business unit, or learn more about every function within the company so that you understand how all the pieces fit together?
Second, what skills and knowledge do you need to achieve that success? For example, if you want to eventually manage a particular department – let’s say marketing – what skills and knowledge do you need to do so? List them out on sheet of paper. So, using our example of marketing, you would want to be well versed in the following:
- Knowledge of the market as well as the product group and competitive landscape
- Ability to compile and analyze data of marketing campaigns
- Ability to develop marketing strategy based on budgets
- Budget development
- Understanding of how the end users perceive and use the product/service
- Understanding of the sales cycle of the product
- Team leadership
- Strong relationship building skills
- Understanding of the different media outlets and effectiveness of various marketing pieces
- Social media expertise
These are just a few examples of what an individual running a marketing department may need to know in order to be successful in the role – certainly not a complete list.
Once you know what skills and knowledge are required to be successful, now break that list down further into strengths and development areas. Take that list and break it down further so that the skills that you need to develop further are prioritized from most important to least important.
Enlist your manager’s help in supporting your career goals. Talk to your manager about your plans. Although it may not be possible for you to run the marketing department in your current organization – for whatever reason – you can still learn about the marketing function and contribute to their success, thereby increasing your skills and knowledge. A good organization will support your long-term goals, even if it means you will need to leave the organization to reach those goals.
Third, develop a plan for developing those skills you need to move toward your goal. Starting with the most important skills and knowledge which need to be developed to be successful, in this case in a marketing management role, break down the list further into a plan for development. Categories to consider on your development plan include – for each skill to be developed:
- Skill of knowledge gap to be developed
- How you will go about developing that skill or obtaining that knowledge – plan for learning
- Take a class
- Job shadow
- Read books/blogs
- Join a professional organization
- What support do you need to reach your goal of developing that skill or knowledge, e.g., support from current manager to take classes during the day
- Develop a timeline of when you intend to complete your goal, including milestones
- Success factors for reaching your goal – how will you know that you have successfully accomplished your goal
Fourth, begin build relationships with others in the organization and increase your visibility. If you are interested in learning more about marketing, speak with the marketing department about how you might support their initiatives. Think about what skills and talents you currently have that might be of support to the marketing function. Maybe you can be involved in the next marketing campaign in some way. Maybe you enjoy writing and want to write a few articles for the knowledge base or the company blog. There are likely many ways you can learn about the function and build your skills and knowledge while still performing your current role within the organization.
How about a mentor? Is there someone in the organization who can mentor you to help you work toward your goal of managing a marketing department? If not within the organization, try to find a mentor external to the organization who can help you to reach your goals.
Be successful for your own career success. Do not rely on others – they are thinking about their career success. Certainly you can call on others to support you in your endeavors – and you will need their support. But you need to think about what is important to you, what defines career success for you, and map out a plan to get there.
Thoughts? What have you done to reach your goals? Who has supported your initiatives? What worked? What didn’t work? Please share in the Comments field below. Thanks!