About 12 years into my career, I felt my trajectory plateau. I was an E4 doing the job of an E5, and sometimes an E6. On one project, I held the same responsibilities as a Fellow and a department manager. Not only was I doing the job of higher salary grades, I felt I had an equivalent, if not greater, skillset in some aspects.
Taking on higher level responsibilities is how you prove you are ready to jump to the next level – a move that reasonably should take a couple of years. But as a couple of years stretched into three and four, I became unhappy and frustrated.
It was not an issue of salary. Nor was it about wanting an office instead of a cubicle. It wasn’t even about recognition. Instead, the crux of my restlessness was the aimless direction of my career.
After some nudging and consulting from my wife, I decided to proactively guide my career rather than continue on the path to bitterness. If, after I clearly explained what I was after, management refused to take action, then I could take the next step knowing I did my part. I owed myself that amount of resolution.
To communicate this to my supervisors, and to myself, I wrote the first version of my “Career Development Plan”.
Future posts will share details and tips for creating your career development plan, but in its most simple form, it should convey three objectives: 1) identify your current job function, 2) document your skills, experience, training, and value to the company, and 3) define you career development and goals.
Perhaps it was a coincidence, but I received a promotion and significant raise during the very next performance review period. What I don’t believe was a coincidence is my career tract is now exactly what I outlined in my proposal. In fact, my boss has even expanded on it, so at the very least, I think presenting my proposal was the necessary kick start to the gains.
However, the process didn’t stop there. I now review and update my career development proposal a couple of times a year. I update my skills and accomplishments while they’re still fresh in my mind, and I add new career goals before I forget them.
It is up to you, and you alone, to nurture your career. Creating, a frequently reviewing, a career development plan will help you keep your career path in focus and provide tangible evidence of its progression and growth.