Setting Your Career In Motion

After several years of experience, mid-level professionals get ready for the next move

says Peter J. Goodman, CEO of MyJobCoach Inc., and author of Win-Win Career Negotiations: All You Need to Know About Negotiating Your Employment Agreement (Gut Instinct Press, $14.95). “They feel pressure to be flexible and are looking for alternative career options, unlike their senior-level counterparts who are more comfortable in their careers.”

And despite a dismal economic climate, employees do have options. Opportunities for career growth are available for those willing to pursue them. But before you can advance, career assessments have to be fine-tuned, and your plan of action has to be aggressively employed. “It’s not enough to do your job well,” states Okoye. “You have to meet your goals, and your boss’ goals. Exceed them, and identify opportunities for new goals and strategies.”

This may not be the perfect time for frustrated employees to exit an unfulfilling position. In fact, according to Dr. Richard C. Bayer, COO of The Five O’Clock Club, a career counseling organization in New York, many employees in this environment are inclined not to switch jobs even if they are unsatisfied. This is an opportune time, however, for setting an agenda for the future.

Although Okoye is not planning to leave her company, she has always positioned herself to take advantage of opportunities. She went back to school to earn an M.B.A. from the University of Miami, is an active member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and always knew when there was an opening in her company.

“We’re coming off a long economic expansion. We’ve gotten spoiled,” adds Bayer. “You’re going to have to adapt new expectations for the workforce and become skilled at turning interviews into offers. You won’t get a job because they liked you.” Counselors at The Five O’Clock Club suggest that potential employees ask the following questions: How far along is the company in the hiring process? Are they close to making a decision? It’s also a good strategy to ask the interviewer(s) how you stacked up to the competition immediately after the interview. “It’s usually unexpected and can yield some helpful information,” says Bayer. “Give definitive answers about how you would handle the position. Present a proposal and forget those silly ‘thank you’ notes,” he says. “Write a one page influence note addressing any questions that may have arisen, and detail what you can do for the company. Think like a consultant.

“You don’t want to quit a job unless you have something else to go to,” Bayer adds. “So, use this time to update your skills by taking classes or joining organizations. These should be ongoing practices.” Technology and trends are changing at such a rapid pace, it will require not just taking a class but continually researching your industry and studying trends. Don’t just join an organization. Be actively involved, regularly touching base with associates. “And while you’re there, take the initiative at your present firm,” Bayer says, “even if it means being a little aggressive. Seek out assignments that can move you toward your goal.”

Okoye knew early

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