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10 Tips for Managing Your Career

October 1, 1995
Related Topics: Your HR Career, Featured Article
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These tips can take your career to a higher gear:

  1. Seek personal satisfaction.
    If you're not satisfied, you're not going to work as hard, and your career is likely to stall out. Gary Krauthamer, an executive search expert, points out that happiness isn't the same thing as personal satisfaction. "It's unrealistic to think that you're supposed to be happy at work all the time. That's simply unrealistic."
  2. Master your job and do excellent work.
    It sounds simple enough, but negativity and boredom often lead to a downturn in quality, says Steve MacGill, an HR consultant with Chicago-based Ernst & Young. And, at the senior HR level, there's no room for inefficiency.
  3. Set goals.
    Have an idea where you want to go with your career. Once you do that, you'll focus on finding ways to achieve your goal. If one opportunity doesn't work out, another will.
  4. Learn and grow.
    Scottsdale, Arizona-based HR management consultant Bob Marshall points out the ideal HR executive or manager of the '90s is a senior generalist who understands both a wide range of HR functions and the business. "If you can't become a strategic partner and sit at the table, you've missed the train."
  5. Be flexible.
    The workplace is changing rapidly, and the human side of the equation is gaining more attention than ever. Jim Stewart, a senior consultant for Boston-based Watson Wyatt Worldwide, argues that flexibility is sometimes more important than actual knowledge. Organizations need individuals who can adapt and get up to speed quickly, he says.
  6. Develop a network.
    Yes, top HR professionals are recruited aggressively. But many of the best jobs come from a network of colleagues-those who know about great positions when they become available. Professional contacts can prove invaluable and help everyone realize gains.
  7. Don't just look vertically, look horizontally.
    "At times the best moves are lateral," says Stewart. "There isn't any change in pay, there's no new title or fancier office. [Individuals] gain valuable experience that will benefit them and allow personal and professional growth." Adds Marshall: "What initially seems like a lateral move may eventually turn out to be the basis for a big vertical move. It's simply laying the groundwork."
  8. Understand your company's goals.
    The better you know your company, the more likely you are to succeed.
  9. Evaluate your career regularly.
    It's not a good idea to change companies every eight months. But it might not be a good idea to slip into a pair of golden handcuffs either. Experts say it's now acceptable to change firms once every three to five years. The most important thing, says Marshall, is to make sure you get the experience and exposure you need to succeed.
  10. Look before you leap.
    If you decide to make a move, learn everything possible about that company. Ask important questions during interviews, talk to colleagues who currently work at the company or deal with it, and ask yourself how your values and attitudes would fit in. "It sounds like common sense, but its amazing how often people make mistakes," says Krauthamer.

Personnel Journal, October 1995, Vol. 74, No. 10, p. 106.

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