How can something so simple to outline be so complex in reality. Making career steps happen involve such things as: Family considerations, compensation issues, relocations, functional skill to develop, job content to master, responsibility expansion, moving from individual contributor to manager, department head then executive, and many others.
Here are some of the considerations:
ULTIMATE GOAL? – Define where you want to ultimately end your career, functionally. CFO? Sales Manager? VP? Business Owner? Dept. Head? or a totally different direction? Whether you’ll make it depends upon:
- Where you are now? How much time before retirement?
- Have you prepared the skills you’ll need for success?What’s your compensation?
- Are you ambitious, very competent, with sterling references and yes, are you connected?
HOW MANY STEPS TO GO?– A Controller in a medium sized company, age 45, with requisite financial functions and a track record of success, can become a CFO in a private company, but may not have the experiences with shareholders, investment bankers, government regulators or boards of directors to become a CFO in a public company. If you’re a junior accountant in a public company, age 28, you have maybe 8 moves in 4 or more different organizations and about 20 years before becoming a CFO.
TIMING AND CHANGES? – How long should you remain in one job before moving on? The answer: As long as it takes to master each job. If your goal is the executive level, it means shifting to a new, higher role every 3 to 5 years, then add in an advanced degree. And if you’re thinking of changing to another function or industry, add another 5 years onto the total.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT YOUR NEXT STEP? Are you ready to make the next step? What have you done to prepare? Do you have a plan or are you waiting for the phone to ring? Are you willing to move across to another department / organization or even down a peg in order to get the experience and credentials for a major step up? How long do you have before getting the experience you’ll need to be fully competent?
ALWAYS BE READY FOR AN OPPORTUNITY – At any stage of your career, opportunity may knock before you’re ready. That’s when a judgment has to be made. Do you risk falling short in a new role or do you take the risk and jump ahead of your plan? No one can make that decision for you. The risk is greater the higher you move.
HOW DO I BEST MARKET MYSELF? – That’s easy. The only way to achieve the next level in a career plan is by the results you attain in the prior job. Only outstanding performance catches the eye of the hiring manager for the next higher position. Mediocre performance means you’re not ready for the next level. You can only demonstrate success by being successful.
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