Aspects of career strategies.

Oct 2nd, 2011 | By | Category: aptitude, Career advice, career choice, career choices, challenges, strategy

I really believe most of our goals are achievable. What seems to derail us on our quest of success is the choices we make along the way.

In looking at the popular advice on how to achieve your goals, most boils down decide what you want to do and do it. What could be simpler? Sometimes even defining our goals is difficult.
Most of things we want have a facilitator network in place to guide us toward our goal. For example, if you want to buy a house you can contact a real estate agent who not only helps you find a house that meets your needs, but also guides you through the whole process including how and where to get a loan. Although we have to make a lot decisions, such as, what kind of home we want, location, price, etc, the choices are laid out in front of us, and there are plenty of people who make their living guiding you through the process. Think how different it would be if this network were not in place. How would even begin to find the houses that are for sale? Could imagine walking down a street knocking on each door asking the owner if they want to sell their house?

Career and business goals do not have supply networks. When I was attending college in the 70s it seemed everyone wanted to be the CEO of General Motors. Most everyone was aware General Motors had a CEO, but how would one going about pursuing such a goal? What should you study in college? Does it make a difference what college you attend? How do you apply for a management job at GM? It was almost impossible to develop a plan to achieve such a goal.

Researching the profiles of those who have been CEO of General Motors may give some clues as to preferred education requirements, and required experience. Would it be best to follow a similar career path as previous CEOs? How does one go about getting those positions? Most of us don’t have a clue. In addition, there is already someone in those job functions. Like the housing market, you have to choose from what is available, plus unlike the housing market, you don’t always get to choose the job you want.
So even if you do your homework and see how others have obtained the goal you have set, there is no guarantee, even if you follow in their exact footsteps you will get the same results. Most of us don’t put that much effort into our career goals. Most of our success goals are much less specific than being CEO of GM. Many of us start our careers without much of plan other than getting a job and gaining some experience. The job we get is usually not the one we preferred, but the first one that is offered to us. I know a few people who got their dream job out of college, but very few. Most had to look long and hard for their first job. It is mainly luck and happenstance where we begin our careers. Even our job functions may be far removed from our intended goal, but that is where we begin building our expertise and experience. Soon the die is cast, and we are moving down a totally different career path.

Unlike the housing market, you don’t always get to pick the career you want. There is competition for jobs, and the selection criteria are not always straightforward. Often we find the skills and experience we have are not those required by the position we would like to have. One of my coworkers had set his goal to become a department head. His strategy was to follow in the footsteps of others who held the job he wanted. He spent a lot of time and effort to gain the same experience and credentials that the processors in that position had. He actually passed up promotions to get what he thought was prerequisite experience. The key management jobs always seemed to go his competitors, he never achieved the job he really wanted. Did he use the wrong strategy?

Perhaps he concentrated to much on getting experience and skills, which while useful, were not requirements for the position he wanted. In this case, as in many others, politics played a more important role then skill level.

Looking for a winning career strategy is seldom a straight line. Finding your way to your success goal often takes more than following the path of those who have gone before us. The professional environment is constantly changing, and it requires a great deal of flexibility to navigate the changing career landscape. So while experience and credentials are important, one should not over look the social aspects of networking in seeking your goals.

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