Your supervisor is not responsible for your career; YOU are! While your supervisor can provide advice and insight, at the end of the day, it is your responsibility to manage your own career. It might help to think about your career as your business—and manage it accordingly. What do successful businesses do?
1. Focus on the customer. In business, the customer is the purchaser of products and services; in the government, the customer is the American taxpayer. So who is the customer in your career? Your employer! What you are providing to your employer is important. What do they need? What do they want? Make sure you provide what they need and want and do so timely and well.
2. Track trends. Just like organizations must respond to changing demands, you too must be aware of changes in your organization’s needs and wants. If you ignore those trends, you may become stuck in the past and left behind.
3. Develop a strategy. It’s not enough to just do you job. If you want a career, you need to think about where you want to go AND how you can get there. Map out your strategy, develop a plan, identify gaps in where you are now and what you need to meet your goal, set timeframes and deliverables, and hold yourself accountable for getting there.
4. Invest. Smart organizations make smart investments—in technology, in personnel, etc. You need to do the same; what investments make sense for you? A degree? A professional certification? Something else? If youre employer doesn’t prioritize investing in you, be willing to invest in yourself. And do your research first to make sure you’re investing in what matters.
5. Use advisors. No organization goes it totally alone; they have contractors including lawyers, accountants, public relations people, and management consultants—to name a few. As your own business, you too need consultants. While not all of your consultants will be paid, you need mentors and others who can offer sound and informed advice.
6. Be competitive. There is a lot of “noise” from competitors. How do organizations make themselves heard? By being “out there,” having a consistent and clear brand, being seen as providing value, and consistently focusing on the customer. You need to do the same.
7. Effectively leverage social media. Social media, whether we like it or not, plays a role in all organizations’ success. If an organization gets “slammed” on social media, it can have an abrupt and negative effect. Likewise, if they are not on social media, some customers may wonder if the company is real. The same applies to you. If you want a career, you absolutely need a strong and positive presence on LinkedIn.