Career Planning

Corinne MillsBy Corinne Mills

Corinne Mills is the Managing Director of Personal Career Management , the leading career coaching company who are now career management partners with TotallyExec

As a senior level professional who has risen to board level you will have invested considerable time, effort and resources in acquiring the experience, leadership skills, and strategic capabilities needed to reach the top. This is a clear indication that that your career is important to you, and you have drive and ambition which is a precursor to effective career management.

However, what happens when your career isn’t quite where you want it to be?  Perhaps you like the job but aren’t sure about the organisation you are currently leading/working for.  Maybe you feel blocked in terms of your career progression which can sometimes lead you to doubt your own ability or suitability for your current position. Most people will have ups and downs in their careers at some point but how do you know whether this is a temporary blip which will sort itself out, or whether it is a more fundamental problem which will persist until you do something about it?

As a career coach  I work with senior management professionals across a range of sectors who are trying to work this out. Many only need slight changes in their working life to bring about the big difference they are after. What they needed was help in talking it through, getting an objective perspective and some practical suggestions and support while they made the changes needed. However there have been occasions where the change/changes was more dramatic.

What always helps with any career challenge is to try and bring an objective and problem-solving perspective to the task, which what my team and I at Personal Career Management seek to do. We help professionals from start to finish, right from the assessment of their skills and evaluation of their job options, through to identifying their next ideal role, formulating an effective job search campaign and obtaining the role.

Here are some tips to help you do this for yourself.

What do you want?

Take a blank piece of paper and write down what you want from your career both in the short and longer term. This may be a promotion or a move to a new sector. It may also be a more qualitative outcome such as increased job satisfaction or to work in a more family friendly way. Don’t forget the reasons why you chose to work in this field in the first place as these may or may not still be important to you. Also be realistic about your needs such as salary, location or any other factor that is essential for you.

Compile your list of your career wants and needs and then prioritise them in their order of importance to you.  This will help give a useful perspective on the things that are working well in your current situation as well as those aspects which are not.

Taking action

What can you do about the things that are important to you but which are missing for you at work?  Is there anything you can do immediately, for instance, getting more involved in areas of the business and overseeing projects and operations that really interest you. What else might you do in the medium to longer term that can take you closer to where you want to be.

Conversely sometimes it becomes very clear that there is nothing you can do within your current organisation to make it work.  You just have to leave.  In which case what are you waiting for?  Start dusting off your CV, registerwith job boards and recruiters and hand in your notice when you have a firm job offer to go to.

What will help?

Most career challenges benefit from talking it through with someone else because emotion and subjectivity can skew your perspective. So if you have a good relationship with others in a similar role, ask for their advice and opinion because they may be able to come up with some good ideas and help support you in implementing them too. However, if you want more confidential and specialist career advice then a career coach will be what you need.

There are lots of career articles on the web that are useful as well as books on career decision-making and every aspect of job search techniques such as CVs.  In addition, if you are a Director/Board level profession in Legal or Finance, watch out for career events run by totallylegal and GAAPweb, and other professional associations as these can be invaluable forums for information gathering and networking.

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