woman updating her resume

Stay Organized and Own Your Career

Dahna M. Chandler, MPS

Organizational skills and career planning go hand-in-hand. Together they help you achieve the outcomes you want in your career. Being organized also gives you a sense of control and accomplishment, which can enhance your emotional well-being. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your career plan, it could be that you’re just suffering from disorganization.

The methods below can help you monitor, track, document and revise your career development plan. And they can help you accelerate your achievements over the long run.

Develop a Reliable Personal Organization System

It might take some trial and error to decide which processes and systems are most useful. Consider how you work and what can help you be productive and efficient. It can include calendars, journals, to-do lists, folder systems, focus tools, email and other communication tools. Most tools come in digital or app form, often on single platforms. Once you have it worked out, here’s what your organization system can help you do.

1. Keep Track of Your Professional Accomplishments

Calendar alerts can remind you to revisit the goals you’ve accomplished and add relevant information to your resume or LinkedIn profile. For example, did you get your Project Management Professional certification? Add the certification along with whatever education, experience and training was required to earn it.

2. Keep a Record of Your Achievements

Keep a running list of your awards, distinctions and big wins. You may be surprised how quickly they add up (and how you can forget them if you don’t keep track). They could include professional and volunteer activities, awards or team recognition. Your list should report quantifiable data. For example, “Won first place from XYZ for the best website design in 2019,” or, “Increased new product sales 20% in the third and fourth quarters of 2018.”

3. Keep an Up-to-Date Resume

There are two sound reasons for this. The first is, you never know when you’ll need to provide a current resume for a promotion or award application. The second reason is that it’s difficult to reconstruct employer data, hire dates and title changes after a couple of years have passed. Add them to your resume as they occur.

4. Develop a Timeline, Including Milestones

Part of developing SMART goals for your career development plan is adding deadlines. By adding them to a larger timeline, which includes milestones, you’ll always know where you are on your path to achieving your goals.

5. Schedule Recurring Meetings With Yourself

Use this time to evaluate your progress and revise your plan, including your timeline. Also use it to give yourself kudos and reflect on your successes.

Reflect and Take Care of Yourself

This can’t be emphasized enough. Without engaging in self-care, you may end up with physical, mental, and spiritual issues that can impede your career development. These tips help you avoid that.

1. Know When to Move On

When you have outgrown your position or the environment is not suitable for you, it may be time to explore other opportunities in your organization. Consider whether a lateral move will keep your career moving toward your development plan. Supportive colleagues or managers, career coaches and mentors can help.

2. Figure Out Where You Excel or Could Improve

Determine your weaknesses (and how you can improve). Conversely, explore what makes you indispensable and ways to convey that to your employer.

3. Maintain a Work-Life Balance

Be deliberate in attaining and preserving the right balance between your physical, mental and spiritual health and your work life. Also, maintain your important personal relationships, so you can get the support you need outside work.

4. Always Be Your Best Self

Be as authentic as possible, improving and excelling where you can, but not changing your core personality and character for your job.

5. Know the Skills You Enjoy

You’ll do your best work when you use the skills you enjoy most. Identify those, develop them, and try to employ them as much as you can in whatever role you have.

6. Know All Your Employee Benefits

Your employer may offer benefits that help you excel in your job and personal life. Know what those benefits are and use them. They could save you time, alleviate stress and enhance your finances.

7. Protect Your Most Important Asset — Your Health

Being healthy in all areas of your life is the key to career development success. Make a preventative care plan to preserve your health and that of your family, and stick to it.

8. Reflect Regularly on What You Want From Work

This should include what you like, dislike and need for growth. Add what you learn to your professional development plan so you can stay on track.

9. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

If you only focus on what’s comfortable, you might start to feel stuck. You must face down your fears to excel in your career. Commit to doing what’s hard and uncomfortable to grow in your occupation.

10. Pat Yourself on the Back Often

Just creating a career development plan and putting strategies in place to achieve your goals is a major accomplishment. It’s not something all people do. So, even if nobody else notices what you’re doing, give yourself credit for taking these steps, and keeping your career development promises to yourself.

It’s work to manage your career development plan and stay healthy in all aspects of your life. But by putting in the effort, these strategies can help you find the right balance between career growth and personal well-being.

What areas of development are you currently working on? What are your career development challenges? Let us know in the comments below.

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