“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”-Alice Walker


In a perfect world, your boss would be a phenomenal mentor guiding your career development.  The last time I checked, the world wasn’t perfect.  There are some outstanding mentors out there.  And you can have a great boss. The problem is having a great boss doesn’t always equal having a great mentor.

I’ve lost count of the number of interviews that I have done.  A common theme I hear frequently when I conduct interviews is that candidates are searching for a company that “cares” about their career.

I can’t fault them for that. Isn’t that the way it should be?  The problem is you are not always going to find a boss to watch out for your career and you can’t wait until they come along.

The reality is you own your career.  You know yourself better than anyone else so why leave something so important in the hands of others?

10 Ways You Own Your Career


1. You Don’t Hold Yourself Back

I frequently hear reservations from clients about applying to new positions.  Here’s the bottom line: If you don’t find yourself “going for it”, you’ll always be where you are today.  You’ll never make any forward progress if you hold yourself back.  Maybe you won’t get the job, but you have a better shot than you do by sitting back and wondering. Asking yourself “what if” is a sad way to live. 

2. You Don’t Settle for Averageness

You get out of your career what you put into your career. Owning your career means you push for greater than average. If you are playing in the pool of the status quo, nothing amazing will happen there.

3. You Understand Industry Trends  

Run a test. Do a quick search as if you were in the job market.  After you review several position descriptions you should see a pattern reflecting current industry trends.  Proactively researching current industry standards keeps you on your toes. You may also find out how marketable you’ve become.

4. You Never Stop Growing

Technology changes quickly which also forces industries to change.  If you still have the same skills as when you first started your job, you are limiting your career growth.

After you do your test on industry trends, conduct your own gap analysis.  Your personal gap analysis can be as easy as the ‘back of the envelop exercise.” Grab a piece of paper and list the industry trends you’ve seen on one side.  On the other side, list your skills, education, certifications, etc.   The skills and expertise you cannot account for is the gap.  That’s how you develop professional growth plans to close the gap.

5.   You Understand Where You Thrive

What type of atmosphere do you thrive in? Aside from the job itself, one factor that significantly influences how employees feel about their job is the environment and culture. This could mean everything from the work to the relationship with co-workers, or even the physical environment.

If you’re not a good fit with your company’s culture, then you may need to look elsewhere for an organization that’s a better fit. In all probability, if you’re not fitting in, you’re probably you’re your happiness.

6. You Have Built A Sound Network Of Professionals

Business relationships are a catalyst for success. That means connecting and networking with professionals in your current company as well as outside of it. Form relationships so that when it’s time to move on, your network can help you.

7. You know When It’s Time to Leave

Sometimes you hit a wall in terms of advancement in your current company.  Maybe the raises are smaller or non-existent, maybe you keep getting passed over for promotions, or maybe there’s not many positions above where you are now.

When this happens, you have two choices:

·         Accept it

·         Move on

The choice is yours, but owning your career means you know when it’s time to move on.

8. Your Performance Is Not Stagnant

Maintaining the status quo can mean that you’re good at your job but it doesn’t mean it will get you ahead. If your performance is exactly where it was a year ago, or two years ago, you’re not improving.  Look for ways to excel, not maintain.

9. You’re Not Afraid to Let Your Intentions Be Known

When you are passive, the perception may be that your boss doesn’t know that you want to be promoted. Let your boss you would like help in defining a career path that helps you move up.  Ambition gets you from here to there. If your boss can help you, that’s much easier than going it alone. 

10. You Toot Your Own Horn


“Without promotion something terrible happens—nothing.” – P.T. Barnum


Visibility is important because you will be at the forefront of your manager’s mind. Visibility also makes you seem approachable, meaning you’ll have more chances to discuss your accomplishments and responsibilities with others.

Who own your career? You do!

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