5 Reasons Not To Leave Your Career Up to “The Man”

Whether you've hung on to your job or not, if you've seen the layoff scythe wielded through the corporate halls you've seen in sharp relief that you can't rely on your company to protect your career advancement.

By Kristi Daeda, founder of LaunchSummit

The typical reaction is finger pointing at the bigwigs for screwing their long term labor force.  But the truth is this: you don't want them to take care of you.

In your father's day, you would have been trained to take the next step in your career. You may have been promoted a little before you were really ready, but because you knew the business and had shown your ambition you would have been given the chance to prove yourself. You also may have found yourself resenting the drudgery of the suit-and-tie life, wondering where the last twenty years have gone and drowning your sorrows in that extra happy hour martini.

Is that the life you're aiming for?

If you're looking for something different from your career — something that's more fun, more challenging, more flexible, and heck, even pays more — no one's going to get it for you but you.

Here's why now is the best time to take charge of your own career development:

1. You're no one's priority but yours.

Your manager's job is to deliver results, and ensure that you're doing the same. Even if your boss is really looking out for you, too much time spent on your career might cost them theirs.

2. Companies design career paths around expediency, not excitement.

Rarely does a company ask itself what its employees might like to learn. And because training budgets are tight (or nonexistent this year) HR is planning how you'll progress based on the skills you develop on the job, and how to use those skills for business goals. Your goals are secondary.

3. The resources for your own career management are unprecedented.

There are hundreds of networking events and associations, online tools, informational resources, job boards, career development resources and more. If you're not sure how to manage your career, start with a Google search and go from there.

4. Everyone else is doing it.

Of course, the fact that there's so much out there to help you manage your career means two things — people want to do it, and are doing it. Those people are your competition. Sure, you could hang out and see how things go. But a year from now, when all your competition has a year of networking and professional development under their belts, do you want to be competing with them for jobs?

5. You don't want to be there that long anyways.

How long do you expect to stay at your current company? Assuming that they want to keep you, and that the company still exists, chances are you're looking at a few years, tops. Your company will groom you for what they need — their technologies, processes and strategy. But is that in keeping with the wider market? If you're not managing your own career, you'll likely never know.

It's an incredible time for career growth. If you make the time, access the tools, and can muster the motivation, you can create your own opportunities. But no one else will do it for you.

What do you want out of your career in 2010? Are you ready to make it happen?

Kristi Daeda is a career coach, blogger and personal marketing strategist helping professionals nationwide create their own career opportunities. She is the founder of LaunchSummit, a free web-based educational event for job seekers, and blogs on job search, management, leadership, networking and more at Career Adventure.
  • Jack

    Excellent article and great points. I think it’s very significant that the “company man” no longer exists. Employees these days are
    treated more like commodities than assets. And
    nobody tries to grow commodities. It’s so true – the only person who is invested in your future is you.

    Thanks for these tips!
    .-= Jack´s last blog ..Google Goggles: The World is Your Hyperlink =-.

  • http://www.xymen.com Patrick H. Ouzts

    As much as business and careers have been changed by technology and the economy, I would actually say that they really haven’t changed at all. The same principles that made a “company man” 50 years ago, will still keep you employed and promoted in today’s work environment.

    First, know what your boss’s goals are. You have to think a level above your work duties; you have to know how your assignments fit into the overall business structure. Then, you can tailor your assignments to be most beneficial for your supervisor.

    Second, you have to have multiple skill sets. Just because you are an IT guy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring in new clients. Let’s say you are a computer program building new software for a textbook company, you should still attend local meetings of professors and see if you can get a sell in. Plus, by interacting with clients, you will better understand what your assignments are really being used for.

    Third, don’t do anything stupid. If you aren’t busy being productive, you are a liability, not an asset.

    Finally, the way business has changed is that if you are doing the above three, you will get offers from other companies and its not a big deal to switch anymore. Where 50 years ago, moving firms was near sacrilegious, you are now free to go with the wind or out on your own.

    In short, bring multiple skill sets to overall structure of the business and don’t do anything stupid. You’ll have a good career.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Patrick, I agree with what you’re saying, but that is only a one-sided commitment. Someone can go above and beyond their duties and make sales like your example, or figure out one’s place in the company, but in my father’s day organizations trained and promoted from within more often than seem to today.

    I think your ideas are great for “being a good employee advancing on the corporate ladder” but that doesn’t mean companies today are going to respond in kind unlike what was apparent in previous generations.

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  • http://www.curriculumvitae.net.au/ Sharon_Miller

    Great article!

    It’s important to find you niche career that really suits you…and then you’re set for happiness. Confucius once said “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. Sounds good, doesn’t it?