What does it mean to own your career? The simplest definition is this: Owning your career involves doing all the things you need to do to have the career you want. When you own your career, you create the career opportunities you want. You don’t just wait for opportunities to happen. Here are some things you can do to own your career:
- Find a career mentor – Mentors can be incredibly valuable in giving you advice and seeking out opportunities for you.
- Involve your boss in your future – A good boss will help you expand your experiences, involve you in high level meetings, and introduce you to his/her network. You need to ask your boss to help you with these opportunities.
- Keep your resume and LinkedIn profile up-to-date at all times. You need to update your accomplishments. Focus on those accomplishments which had measurable impacts. Make sure to add to your skills on your LinkedIn profile. Also set aside sometime each week to expand your connections on LinkedIn. These should be people you meet at work, alumni connections, those you meet at other organizations.
- Entertain invitations to talk to other companies. While you might not be interested in moving to another company, it doesn’t hurt to explore other opportunities. Often another offer can give you leverage for a better salary or position in your current company.
- Keep a continuous check on internal job postings. Most companies have job announcements corporate wide. You might find another opportunity internally that will be a good fit for you.
- Move outside your comfort zone. If you want to have a career with more responsibility (and pay), you have to show flexibility. Look at opportunities that broaden your perspective. Generally you want to have experience in three broad categories:
- Operations/Engineering/Supply Chain
- Let people know what you want. – It’s ok to tell your organization you think you are being underutilized. If you are given more responsibility that should also lead to more pay.
Think of this paradox. The better you are at your job, the more your boss and others will want to keep you in that job. But at the same time, when you get really good at a job you will become bored. If you want to get stuck in your career, just don’t do anything. If you want to advance, make a move to broaden your responsibility or experience.