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News & Blogs: Rising Above the Middle

Don't let an uncertain career path determine your future

Friday, April 19, 2013  
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By Leanna Cruz


Clear career paths are essential for employee development. But some companies do not have specific employee performance development plans in place and others have discovered many of their career paths are obsolete.

Even the most admired companies have been slow to develop career paths for the future. This does not mean these organizations do not want their employees to advance. A savvy employee will turn an uncertain career path into a vehicle for advancement.

Companies that encourage and develop career paths for employees provide a structure to identify suitable candidates for promotion and performance evaluation criteria, plus support development of core competencies for those interested in career advancement. Defined career paths benefit employees by giving them certainty of specific skills, knowledge and experience required to advance and reach their career goals. A plan of action for getting to the next step is easy to see.

But in today’s constantly changing business environment, career paths are more difficult for companies to define. Still, that doesn’t mean you should be uncertain about your future.

Ambitious employees can take advantage of a limited job scope by defining their own path. Seeking input from your boss, mentor, sponsor, talent manager and human resources department will ensure your plan will take you to the positions you want.

Most bosses will appreciate your dedication to growth and your foresight to develop a career path for yourself, which could potentially become a framework for developing similar plans for other employees -- which is something you can add to your resume.

Create your own career

To begin crafting your own path to advancement, consider the level in the organization you’d like to work in the next five to 10 years. Keep in mind a 10-year plan must be flexible given the rapid changes businesses are experiencing. Your plan should consider your skill and knowledge interests and how they fit with the strategic initiatives important to executives and the success of the organization. This is where input from others is important.

Next, determine which skills, abilities and experiences are needed to get where you want to go. Your plan should include action steps, short term goals and learning opportunities to develop those skills, knowledge and experiences. Your plan should include performance reviews and a review of goals and actions as opportunities change.

The best thing about uncertainty is there is no right way to get things done. The worst thing is everyone waits for everyone else to make the first move. Don’t let your career advancement stall due to lack of a defined career path. Get in the driver’s seat of your career, stay ahead of trends, develop essential skills for career advancement and remain a valuable employee.

Career advancement specialist Leanna Cruz is president and CEO of Positively Successful Career and Positively Successful magazine, a resource dedicated to helping mid-career professionals get noticed, get promoted and get ahead.

Views expressed in signed blogs and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and sponsors.

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