Tackling Career Management Doesn’t Have to be Overwhelming
By: Katrina Dunn, Director of Development, American Fisheries Society
In the day-to-day management of our professional and personal lives, it’s easy to lose sight of long-term career goals. The internet is full of articles and blogs with endless career advice for professionals at every level. The information overload can overwhelm! Below are my best tips to help even the most apprehensive professional tackle managing their career.
- Your career is a journey and not a race. On average, most people will have roughly 50 years of paid employment. With every job, monitor what you like and don’t like about the job—the goal is for every job to get you to more of the type of work you want to do, and less of the work you don’t. Set one career goal you’d like to accomplish each year. Examples include speaking at a conference, volunteering for a committee, or submitting an article on an industry-related topic.
- Have a destination in mind, but stay flexible in how you get there. It’s easier to connect the dots looking backward than forward. Choose to view your early career decisions as springboards rather than obstacles. Your professional goals should be defined enough to keep you motivated, yet broad enough to keep you growing. If you don’t have a career goal defined, schedule time to sit down and put pen to paper. If you’re struggling to develop goals, use the career paths of professionals you admire for inspiration.
- To thine own self be true. It’s important to know your strengths, weaknesses, goals, and story. Regularly assessing the gaps between your current position and your dream job will help you map your way there. Aim to fill those gaps with specific job opportunities, courses, conferences, and volunteer experiences. Adopt the habit of checking-in with yourself annually to monitor your progress towards accomplishing your goals.
- Networking can happen in many ways, but you must put yourself out there. Networking has been described as an ongoing, proactive effort that opens doors to multiple opportunities inside and outside of your current organization. Today, we’re fortunate that networking can happen in person or online through platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter. Networking can happen while volunteering with professional organizations, like AFG, or organizations centered on interests, causes, or activities.
- Finally, always be prepared. You never know when the next opportunity will arise. Don’t let an outdated résumé hold you back. You should plan to update your résumé at least once a year. Regular updates will also help you keep track of your accomplishments before too much time has passed. Don’t forget your online résumés—personal websites or sites like LinkedIn should be updated as well.
Katrina Dunn is the Director of Development for the American Fisheries Society in Bethesda, Maryland. She shared her perspective on career planning for association fundraisers at AFG’s 2017 National Conference, and recently organized a career management series for Young Professionals at Associations Now.
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