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Managing your career fact sheet

Success and happiness at work are rarely achieved by chance. From reviewing your current situation to exploring career options, maintaining and monitoring your career path is a must. We all need to ensure we develop a portfolio of skills to enable us to handle crises, push ahead with achievements and respond positively to change. Be proactive in developing your career plan so that you do not miss out on the rewards that more focus, drive and direction can bring.

Key points in managing your career

  • Mapping the future: Effective planning is at the heart of career success. Assess your position now, decide where you want to be and then use your experience to help you map the best route for the future.
  • Assessing your current situation: We are all at different stages of our lives and you may want to take stock of your present situation because you feel you need to make a change. Check and analyse your progress to see exactly where you are now and what may lie ahead.
  • Evaluating your portfolio: Exploring the choices you have made can highlight trends and connections that have affected you. Identify recurring themes or unexpected links and find reasons for the most successful periods in your career so far. Use these insights to see the most effective way forward, avoiding negative patterns from the past.
  • Exploring career options: It is vital to be aware of the kind of work that is currently available in the marketplace. Do as much research as possible and use your network of friends and contacts. Think what you want to see in your career when you look back in ten years’ time.
  • Developing your career: Career changes happen at intervals, but even the most determined job-changer works in a particular role most of the time. Learn how to invest in yourself to manage your working life between these changes.
  • Reviewing your own progress: Hold regular reviewing and planning sessions so that you can assess what you have achieved and what you need to do next. Combine these assessments with reviews of your life as a whole.
  • Achieving career success: As your career develops, twists and turns are inevitable. Be prepared to overcome obstacles, change direction when necessary and turn events to your advantage so that you continue to move on. Change is normal and desirable, a static position is a far greater cause for concern.
  • Surviving and thriving: Even with the most careful planning, career progression can sometimes be thrown off course by sudden unexpected events. However, a crisis can represent a turning point. Concentrate on practical issues to maintain a sense of proportion until you decide what has to happen next.

Dos and Don'ts


  • Do view managing your career as an exciting new project
  • Do give planning your career the time and effort it deserves
  • Do keep your longer-term career goals private
  • Do dare to dream, take time out to revisit forgotten plans and conjure up some new solutions
  • Do challenge yourself, include new and demanding targets in each career plan
  • Do seek advice from trusted and respected friends


  • Don’t get complacent. Always look to the future, even when you are happy at work and planning seems unnecessary. Aim to be active in your career.
  • Don’t stagnate, use every opportunity to learn and develop your skills.
  • Don’t stick your head in the sand, join a relevant trade or professional association
  • Don’t limit yourself, keep your options open as it is rare to find one perfect career solution
  • Don’t over-invest in work, it can never fulfil all your needs
  • Don’t let a fear of the unknown hold you back

Points to remember

  1. You are responsible for the choices that you make and you can take control of your work and life balance.
  2. The most successful career paths have good planning, a sense of direction and clear milestones along the way. A career path needs to be flexible but it should always be structured.
  3. Specify for yourself what you are aiming for. Breaking these goals down into achievable steps will help you to set key career markers on your journey that you can view as targets.
  4. Many jobs are never advertised but are filled through word of mouth. Use social gatherings to meet new contacts and expand your network of contacts.
  5. Learning from failure can be just as useful as learning from success.

Managing Your Career
Adapted from “Managing your career” by Rebecca Tee, Dorling Kindersley, 2002 ISBN 0-7513-3846-X

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