By Laurie D. Sedgwick, Director of Career Management for Executive MBA Programs and Alumni
In my first career influencers article, I outlined the external factors that can impact one’s success in today’s world of work. In this article, I’ll discuss the internal factors — behaviors and practices — that lead to a successful career. These internal factors fall into two categories: career maintenance behaviors and successful career transitions (which are becoming more frequent and less taboo than they once were).
For over 20 years, I’ve had the great privilege to work with MBAs and executives and observe the qualities and characteristics that impact their careers. Here, I identify five key attributes I see consistently in individuals who describe their careers as successful:
- Projects a sense of purpose
- Articulates a clear value proposition
- Manages effectively in the face of ambiguity
- Confers regularly with mentors
- Maintains a robust network
Navigating successful career transitions
I work with many folks who are paralyzed by indecision and don’t know where to start when seeking new opportunities. Tactical career management outlines a process you can learn; following the steps is critical to getting started in defining and achieving your career goals:
Embarking on a successful career transition begins with a clear objective. You must know and clearly articulate how you can add value to a potential employer before you seek any specific position. I often see individuals make the error of applying to postings as a first step, then falter, unable to present themselves well in fruitful interviews that result in an offer.
Once you’re clear on your interests, values, and skills and how you can best contribute in the workplace, it’s key to develop a plan of action and set goals. It’s easy to let the job search flounder without clear goals and deadlines.
In parallel, it’s critical to become an expert in the industry or function you’re targeting. Do the research and become thoroughly familiar with relevant current trends and developments.
At this juncture, it’s critical to remain focused and target a limited number of companies and opportunities. You’ll be most successful in the search if you can passionately sell yourself; this is hard to do if you spread yourself too thin, especially when competing against candidates who are passionate about the company and position. Whenever you can, prepare for real interviews by participating in mock interviews.
Network, network, network. Eighty percent of jobs are filled through the networking process.
Close the deal. Base your decision about whether or not to accept a job offer on benchmarking the opportunity against your interests and values.
In summary, in order to have a successful career, you need to actively manage your current career and learn how to make smooth career transitions. Be deliberate in navigating your career or your career will manage you by default.
Alumni Career Services can help you navigate each of these steps. Don’t hesitate to contact us for our coaching expertise and resources.