Career Management – What Is Your Starting Point?

Here is the first in a series of career management blogs by Corinne Goddard, focusing on the importance of understanding your current situation before planning for the future.

You have taken the important decision to take ownership of your work life and manage your career, to give you agility and options in the employment market. So what happens next?

The importance of understanding the present

The first step in managing change for the future is to have a clear picture of the present. This may sound like a contradiction, so let me give you an example ….

If you want to travel to Birmingham, how can you do this if you don’t know whether you’re starting from Manchester, Liverpool or Glasgow? A simple illustration admittedly, but it demonstrates how important it is to know your starting point.

For career management, the document that records your ‘present’ is a Curriculum Vitae (or CV), but there is some work you need to do before you can write that.

Taking stock

Navigating change is as much about taking stock as taking action. What does taking stock mean? It means establishing a clear picture of your capability and identifying your achievements at work (and yes you will have them …..!).

You need to be organised, so set up a file and start collating your information. All you need is a paper and pen (or even better, make notes on your PC). Make a list of …..

  • Personal Details (name, address, contact details)
  • Schools and colleges you attended, with dates and a list of any qualifications
  • A list of your employers (starting with the most recent and working backwards), role title and dates of employment
  • Any structured activities you do outside of work – are you a member of a club? Do you do any volunteering? Do you coach a sport? Are you on any committees?
  • Other information (such as driving licence, computer skills or other expertise)

Don’t be modest about what you are good at – once you start your list, you may surprise yourself with how much you have done. Don’t overlook the every day – managing a household budget, running a home, participating in a club or volunteering are significant activities which develop your skills – so what do you do at work that draws on this know-how?

Once you have done this, list all your tasks and responsibilities using bullets for each role. Use active verbs to describe what you did – for example, maybe you handled cash and reconciled the till, opened up the premises, served guests with drinks, conducted stock takes, worked as a member of a team, served customers, cleaned premises …..? Now do the same for any volunteering or activities outside of work. We’re going to return to these statements later to look at how you can write them in the most powerful way possible.

Now you have done your preparation, we’ll be looking at how to turn this into a great CV and also understand what you can learn from Paddington.