Manage Your Career-Six Steps to Follow

Manage Your Career. That's the advice I received early in my professional career. Manager your career or someone may manage it for you – and you might not like what they have planned.

Today, as I coach executives, managers and those who find their careers in transition, I always pass that advice on. Manage your career.

So how do you best manage your career? There are six basic steps to follow:

1. Inventory your career – regularly take stock and write down your significant accomplishments, training programs completed, jobs, education, and achievements. Focus on your contribution and value that you bring to your organization rather than the tasks you perform.

2. Have an updated resume – resumes are a must when looking for a new job, but they are a great tool to share with your boss during performance appraisal time, when going for a promotion or pay raise, or when applying for a position within your company. View the resume as your personal marketing piece – and once again, focus on achievements rather than tasks performed.

3. Know what makes you happy – jobs and career are a big part of your life so you might as well be happy doing it. And remember, job and career are two different things. A job is what we do to make money. A career is a passion, a professional focus. It's what excites you, challenges you, drives you. You know you've arrived when you get paid to work in your career field in a company that appreciates your unique contribution.

4. Network, network, network – successful people are good networkers and they do it often. Get out of the office and meet with different people. Join professional associations and take an active role. Build your Rolodex.

5. Stay current – no matter what your education or training, in a short period of time you'll find yourself falling behind if you're not regularly taking courses, attending trainings, and reading professional journals.

6. Get a professional coach or mentor – coaches can provide you needed advice and counsel in a safe environment. They are a sounding board for your ideas, an unbiased critic, the one who can give you a push when you're stuck. They assist with business issues or style issues and they'll help to strengthen your knowledge, performance, and image.

Imagine what it would be like to find yourself enjoying a successful career – doing what you want to do, where you want to do it, and getting paid well for doing it. Follow these six steps and your career will take off. Remember, only you can manage your career.