Managing your career in 2004
BY JOHN SULLIVAN, PMP, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
Welcome to 2004. While planning and managing projects over the next year, do the same for your career, which requires the same consideration as any project. You must actively manage it. Here are seven suggestions to help:
Record a Specific Daily Accomplishment.
Each night, note one accomplishment, explaining its significance. You won't always have a huge achievement, but small actions add up. The key is interpreting the value you add to the organization.
I use a spreadsheet because it allows me to do custom sorts and filters to identify accomplishments for my performance review. My spreadsheet has a date column on the left. The top row has fields for each project, my daily accomplishment and the significance of the work: how it cut costs, met a milestone, etc. I also track nonproject items such as “continuing education” and “leadership” so I can cite specific examples during reviews.
Keep Your Resume 80 Percent Current.
Have the basic content in place—job history, current position and recent accomplishments—but leave 20 percent undone to customize your resume.
Use daily accomplishments as a “resume generator.” List items most relevant to the job opening on your resume so that final 20 percent makes you better fit the job.
Seek “Do-it-Yourself” Mentoring.
Formal mentoring programs tend to focus on new hires. Instead, find two or three trustworthy people with whom you can regularly discuss career issues.
There are two keys. First, find the right people. Second, balance between formal and informal approaches. I meet with two contacts about six times a year to discuss our industry, recent successes and failures, career news and our personal lives. We balance personal and professional needs and add value to each other's careers without agendas and action items.
Explore Professional Organizations.
Join one professional organization and attend at least half of the meetings for the next year. If you are inactive in a professional organization, resign. Stop paying dues. Either join a different group or stay home. If you stay home, don't expect too much if you lose your job and show up at a meeting to start networking.
Invest Time in Networking.
Forget the “I will meet 50 new contacts” stuff. Identify two people you would like to meet and with whom you want to build relationships. Introduce yourself or find a mutual acquaintance to introduce you, then build rapport by having lunch, sending an interesting article or asking for advice.
Clean Out Your Network.
Eliminate unnecessary contacts. A good rule of thumb is the same one used for clothing: After a year, discard it.
Remove the obligation to stay in touch with people that don't add value to your network. If you're out of touch, you're probably not a help to them either, so remove them and make room for new contacts.
Do It Your Way.
Bring your own style to career management. A networking database is an online software program for some folks. For others, it's a business card file. Know what works for you and do it your way. But do it.
Don't trust your livelihood to anyone else, because no one—your boss, your human resources department or your company—cares about your career. Managing your career is one project you have to do yourself. PM
John Sullivan, PMP, is an information technology project manager and a writer and speaker on career issues.
PM NETWORK | JANUARY 2004 | WWW.PMI.ORG