A big mistake a lot of us make in our work is to confuse our careers with the jobs we have right now. This is a problem because we end up confusing job management with career management. And believe me, there's a difference.
When you are managing your job, you focus on:
- Accomplishing current tasks and responsibilities
- Attending company/organization-sponsored training
- Networking on behalf of your company
- Doing things right and meeting company/organization expectations
There's nothing wrong with any of this. Job management is necessary to keep your current position and will help you develop your reputation for future opportunities.
The problems arise when every ounce of energy you have for work is poured into your current job, with nothing left over to think about and prepare for a future that most likely will not be with your current company or organization.
Job management is about pleasing your current employer. Career management is about creating your own path.
When you are managing your career, you still do some of the job management tasks I identified above.
But you are also carving out time, attention and energy for thinking through and acting on your own goals and desires in your career. You:
- Regularly reflect on your career--what you are learning, what you want to be learning, how you are using your strengths and sparks.
- Are in charge of your own learning, recognizing that your knowledge and skills are YOURS and that they are one of your main sources of competitive advantage.
- Assess your company's professional development opportunities and know when it's time to strike out on your own.
- Treat your career as an experiment, taking risks and trying out new ideas and possibilities.
- Pay attention to what's going on in the larger world--other industries and occupations--and to how these trends may impact your current job and your future.
- Have a layoff plan, recognizing that no job--NO JOB--is permanent.
So here's the question for today--Are you focused on managing your job or managing your career?