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Monday, March 11, 2013

LinkedIn Today & "Evaluate Your Career Every 18 Months"

In case you didn't know, LinkedIn has their own customizable news aggregator/feed called LinkedIn Today.
At first it was just an aggregator, drawing from the top finance/business news outlets (NYTimes, WSJ, etc), but has since added many other industry sources.
I'm a big fan of it and it is one of the sites I visit every day to get the latest news.

One of the latest developments is that they have been adding their own original content, generated by users on a wide variety of topics.

They also try to make it social and similar to Facebook in that it displays other people who have "liked" or commented on the articles; but I have not noticed any personal contacts who have interacted in this way, nor have I ever felt compelled to do so.

On to the second part of this post title...

I recently read a piece by Charlene Li, Founder Partner at Altimeter Group, entitled: "Best Advice: Evaluate Your Career Every 18 Months".

It is something that I had done to a lesser extent throughout my career, but after reading the article, I've realized that I should take a more serious and organized approach to the process.
In part, my lack of "career planning" may be due to the fact that I've never worked for a company that sets you on a "track" or ever given me a true mentor that guided me through my career growth.
I've always wondered what it would be like to have someone helping to plot your path. I imagine it allows some to simply plod along in their work and routinely advance in the company. This seems both unfulfilling, in that your career is already mapped out for you, but reassuring as well because you know that you know your course and are reassured that if you do your work, you will progress.

*To any readers: Does your company have a formal career planning program in place? Do you appreciate it?
Alternatively, if your company does not have one, do you wish it did?

Regardless of your company's involvement, it is ultimately something you need to take upon yourself and focus on

A bit scary, but it is probably true for many people when she writes:
"So think about how much time you put into planning a trip, or researching how to save a few dollars on an upcoming purchase.

The reality is that you probably spent more time managing your music playlists this month than on you spent managing your career over the last year!"

Follow the link for the full article, I've also posted it after the jump. (It's not that long, read it if you have a couple minutes!)

Best Advice: Evaluate Your Career Every 18 Months
Charlene Li, Founder Partner at Altimeter Group
February 26, 2013
In my second year at Harvard Business School, I took a career management course because I had no idea what I was going to do upon graduation. At the start of the course, the professor gave me the best advice: that the most important asset I would ever manage would be my career and because of that, I should give it the proper time, attention and investment that it deserved. No other asset I would ever manage would ever come close to the net present value of my career.

His specific advice was to evaluate my career status about every 18 months. It's 18 months because that's about how long it takes for a person to master a job — and begin to look for new challenges. Either you find those challenges in the existing job or you have to and find new opportunities. Regardless, that regular evaluation keeps you honest about managing your career, rather than passively going along with the situation that you are currently in.

For years, I followed this advice — and it was what allowed me to stay at Forrester Research for almost 10 years, even though many of my business school classmates were chasing (and found) Dot Com glory. About every 18 months, I'd sit down and figure out the trajectory of my professional life for the next 18 months and if I should stay at my job or leave. I'd work with career coaches, take assessments, and frequently interview with other companies to see if the grass truly was greener. For almost 10 happy years, I kept coming back to realizing that being at Forrester met all of my career criteria — especially when it came to balancing work and life.

But at some point, I realized that I had changed and that while I loved being at Forrester, I wanted to take my career in a different direction. I was also facing the challenges of managing a growing family and needed greater control over my life. So I left, became an independent analyst, and shortly thereafter realized that I wanted to work again with other people. So I started Altimeter!

The biggest on-the-job impact this advice had was my decision to invest early in social media — each time I make an investment in social media, it pays back in spades. It takes a tremendous amount of time and energy, and unfortunately, often takes a back seat to the daily demands of a job. Confession: I haven't written a post in months and it was the realization that I hadn't been making that regular contribution into my career that is drawing me back to writing.

So think about how much time you put into planning a trip, or researching how to save a few dollars on an upcoming purchase. The reality is that you probably spent more time managing your music playlists this month than on you spent managing your career over the last year!

If you're ready to make an investment in your career, here are a few of my favorite resources.
  • CareerLeader.com - Developed at Harvard Business School, this is an assessment tool that looks at not only your interests, but also your motivations, values, and skills.
  • StrengthFinders - This book contains an access code to an online assessment tool that helps evaluate your strengths. It simply makes sense to focus on investing in areas of strengths -- it's what will find you the best opportunities.
  • Center for Creative Leadership - I attended a leadership development course in December (yes, even leadership authors need leadership development) and found it to be incredibly helpful.
(LinkedIn Today)

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