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Developing a Career Track

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Developing a career track

I was going to write an article about taking charge of your career track, about not delegating your career planning to anyone else, to be disciplined and focused on developing a career . I then realised that based on my own experience this rarely works.

A career track is important to develop, but you don't just jump into it. Yes, you need to do the things listed above. You need to be accountable. You need to show control and passion for your future career. Yet before you do this, you need to do something else which is just as important and lays the ground work for having a discussion about your career track.

When I join a company, like everyone else I am very excited and prepared to focus on building myself to move ahead. I think long and hard about my career track. Both my employer and I need to benefits.

However, before I can start discussing my planned career track I need to show my employer that I am excellent in my current position and due to the excellence in my current position I have permission to start thinking about and planning my career.

Jane's Career track

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Let me give you an example. Jane is a 29 year old business analyst at a paper company. Jane is a public certified accountant and holds an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University. She is bright, ambitious and well liked by her colleagues. Jane arrives at work promptly at 8:30am every day and leaves at 6:30pm. She is a great colleague and her co-workers like socialising with her. Jane has been an analyst for 6 months and is desperately trying to have a conversation with her manager, Karl, about moving ahead to the next level. Karl politely sidesteps these discussions and simply tells Jane she needs more experience. Jane is puzzled and keeps pressing the issue. She believes her career is on track to be Karl's "lieutenant" in the department.

To Karl, Jane is good at her work but not great. He still needs to check and sign-off all her work. She is not too creative for her level. While her work is good, she is usually at her best when she knows what needs to happen and "disappears" for 1 to 2 weeks to complete the assignment.

To Karl, Jane needs to have better attention to detail, she needs to be more creative for her level and understand the business better. In Karl's opinion, Jane does not act as if she is a senior business analyst and therefore does not yet have his permission to start transitioning her career to the next level. To Karl, she needs to focus on perfecting her current role first. If anything, Jane's career seems to be on a circular track with no progress made.

Lessons for Jane?

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What Jane should be doing, or should have done when she first started is the following. In fact, it's not too late for Jane to do this:

Sit down with Karl and understand his expectations of her.

Jane must distinguish between tangible ("complete the businesses cases on each product launch, review the material for the management meeting etc") and intangible expectations ("the team has been down recently so we hope to inject some confidence with your arrival, the analysts and marketers do not get along so I hope you can help us bridge that gap etc").

If Jane can, categorise those expectations. Understand what is most important to Karl and the

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