Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Taking Charge of My Career

I usually dislike review time at work. I'm not really sure why, as I know I am a good worker, have never gotten a bad review, and have always been awarded some sort of raise or bonus every year. I'm usually REALLY nervous going in and then sit there while my boss tells me what I already know ("You've accomplished this, this and this. Here are the business's goals for this year.") I usually quietly leave with a thank you and that's it for another year.

However, yesterday was different.  You see, I didn't even know my review was yesterday until I got in, so I really had ZERO time to worry about it. I mean, I knew it was coming, but I didn't have time to dwell on it. Also, I was more confident because I had a plan of how I was going to address my review. This was the first time I planned on taking an active part in my review process.

And I have SWE (the Society of Women Engineers for all you non-engineers out there) to thank for that...

It just so happened that we had our SWE regional conference at a local university on Saturday. It was a time to network with other female (and some male) engineers and learn a TON about personal and professional development.

Probably the best and most interesting course I took was called "Building Your Career Skills".

It was a course on understanding what skills are most highly sought after by HR and management in companies and how to utilize the review process to fill in any gaps that you may have as you progress in your career.

The nine essential career skills are:

1.) Technical Depth - design, test and implement solutions; be analytical and efficient
2.) Organizational Integration - understand organization and its mission; have cross-divisional perspective
3.) Strategic Vision - develop long term plans, understand how what I do affects the bottom line
4.) Program Management - employ resources, overcome barriers, prioritize
5.) Leadership - influence and persuade others, reconcile differences, communicate effectively at all levels
6.) Direct People Management - effectively manage, develop trust and credibility, provide guidance
7.) Commercial - demonstrate negotiation skills, customer experience, handle difficult discussions postivly
8.) Financial - understand balance and income sheets, deliver on financial commitments
9.) Operational - deliver product to meet objective, allocate resources efficiently, set priorities

On Sunday, I went through all of the jobs I have had thus far in my career and figured out which career skills I learned from each one. Those skills where I didn't yet have experience, I tried to think about ways I could learn them in my current position, be it taking classes or being included in meetings where I could be exposed to these areas.

I then went into my review with specific things I wanted to learn and be exposed to during the year. My boss was very open to listening and actually agreed with me as to some of the classes that I was interested in taking. I'll definitely be following up in a month or so to make sure that some action has been taken on my boss's part in scheduling something (as he wanted to try to plan a class for the whole group). If I don't hear anything, I'll be sure to start doing the research myself to schedule something.

I feel better knowing that at least I've spoken up to my boss about my needs and where I want my career to go. We'll see how it all pans out this year...

Have any of you used a similar strategy in your career? Was your boss receptive to your career needs?

1 comment:

  1. This is so awesome, GO Jen! I love that you leveraged the SWE conference. I have had mixed results. I actually one time had a boss tell me that I wouldn't be able to go back and get a masters in Architecture and start a family which I had noted, against my better judgement, in my 5 year personal goals. What a let down to receive such an awful comment from someone in the role to be a mentor. In other cases I felt like sharing my goals opened doors and provided opportunities I many not have gotten. I think its awesome you are taking action to grow your experience, I am sure your boss was really impressed.