“That was random.” It’s a well-deserved retort from my 12-year-old and 15-year-old daughters in response to my frequent offbeat statements or questions. It always gets a chuckle from me.
If they were to look at my resume, they might hit me with the same, deadpan statement. I’d probably still laugh, but had things not turned out so well for me, it might not be so funny.
For many people, career paths can look a little… random. Even if the path was intentional and well-planned, stumbling into a job that is unfulfilling can be painful. No one takes a job because they know it will make them miserable, so what gives?
You’ve heard the statistics. According to Gallup, 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged at work. Ajilon states that 80% of the full-time workforce are either actively seeking (25.7%) or passively open to (55.5%) new job opportunities. The list goes on.
There’s an entire industry built around helping companies solve the engagement crisis, and after more than a decade and many billions of dollars spent, little has changed. The numbers are shockingly similar to what they were in the mid-2000s.
Engagement Comes from Within
Few of the solutions on the market address the role of the individual in creating their own engagement. Most assume employees are passive receivers of engagement-stoking perks, praise, and pizza who will predictably “turn on” when the right management levers are pulled.
The question is: how does an individual find his or her own engagement? For me and the team at ReVrb, the answer lies in empowerment. And, there is research to back that up.
Empower Yourself: Take Charge!
If you want to re-discover the joy of work, to be able find “the zone” again, to feel purpose and direction, now is the time to change your career from a series of random acts to a powerful plan.
There are lots of resources to help with career planning, so we’ll give you some tips to apply as you start this journey.
- Take “Follow Your Passion” with a grain of salt. Recent research suggests we might do better to think about our passions as evolving rather than waiting to be discovered. A “growth mindset” is more important than identifying “The One” to developing and sustaining an interest or pursuit in the face of adversity.
- Look over there! Nothing is linear anymore. Think less about job progression and more about skill/experience progression to achieve your goal. For example, if your goal is to become a marketing executive, know that C-Suite success is more about strategic thinking, business acumen, and collaboration than it is about whether you’ve designed a digital marketing campaign.
Think broadly about how you can gain experience and skills that will help for your ultimate destination, not just the next obvious step. This might mean taking a detour to another department, business or industry to prepare for your ultimate destination.
- Build a quality network. Your network is a rich source of contacts, ideas and support. Do yourself a favor and build it today with the spirit of “give first.” Later, when you need help, asking for it will be natural, and you will find people will be generous and giving. And, think about the quality and diversity of your network.
After I left my last corporate gig, I wrote about the false sense of security one can have with the size of a LinkedIn network, failing to realize that having 500 contacts in your current company feels good, but won’t be much use when plunging into the market for a job or to build a business.
Broad and diverse, in every sense of the word, will be more useful and, in my opinion, much more interesting. The Marketers Community is a great place to start!
- Know thyself. Take an assessment. Ask for feedback. Get a coach. Keep a journal and reflect on how you experience the world. In my experience, self-awareness is the lynchpin to success. It’s critical as you think about what you want from your career. It will help you know your strengths and your blind spots, so you can know where you have leverage and where you need to improve.
- Be a “prospector”. I had a friend who described having a development mindset as being a “prospector.” It says something, doesn’t it – constantly searching, learning from mistakes, discovering. If you don’t yet have what you want, you will need to do something different, which means learning. Having such a mindset will help you take in new information, apply it, reflect on the clues that tell you what’s working and what isn’t, and make course corrections toward greater success.
In today’s business world, where your career path takes you is up to you! It’s called empowerment, and you have 100% control of it. The next step is yours – it only takes one to start the journey. Why not take it today?
In the comments, tell us ONE step you can take today to move your career to where you want it to go. We’d love to know!
Steve Schad is President of Optima Advisory, LLC and the visionary behind ReVrb Leader Hubs™. Steve is a former HR and Learning and Development leader with Andersen Corporation, a large manufacturing organization based in Minnesota. Steve has a strong history of advising companies across U.S. industries and in multiple sectors, guiding them on HR and leadership development best practices and implementing strategies to develop strong leaders.