A Business Plan for Your Career

It was a very interesting discussion in the CFO–Career–Forum yesterday. Recruiter Tim Norstrem and I were discussing the merits of having a career management plan … a business plan for your career.

Tim suggested that your plan should include

––a clear vision of your industry / discipline,
––an “admission” of your strengths (interesting word choice and great insight in the follow up discussion),
––your unique basket of skills (i.e., personal brand),
––a solid networking strategy, and
––a compelling value proposition and the ability to articulate it.

According to the 2007 Executive Job Market Intelligence Report,

––Executives stayed 2.7 years in a single job, 3.3 years with a company, and 4.2 years in the same industry.

––Corporate HR professionals identify 14 months as a critical point of demarcation for the newly–hired executive where the excitement wanes and dissatisfaction creeps in – and 35% see the disengagement occur in fewer than 10 months.

If an executive is unhappy in his new position in a year or less, chances are good he probably didn’t have a very good plan or more likely, any plan in place. While the unexpected can happen in a new position that can lead to early dissatisfaction, clearly this is not a welcomed trend. It seems to me that having a career plan in place would ensure that the next move was well–researched, well–thought out, and designed to help him achieve his longer–term goal.

Additionally, the average executive job search is 21.6 weeks. What Tim said to me after the call was significant … having a solid career management plan can reduce an executive’s time on the market to zero days.

If you know you are going to be moving every 3–5 years, doesn’t it make sense to be prepared to make that move? Imagine never having to conduct a job search again, and all because you chose to run your career like you run your company.

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4 thoughts on “A Business Plan for Your Career”

  1. Hi Cindy!
    Great post! I think that your message about career management is nicely reinforced by Tim Norstrem’s suggestions. As I’m just now reading “A Whole New Mind” by Dan Pink, I’m beginning to think it’s important to consider how one’s abilities and career management plan relate to the high concept and high touch demands of the new Conceptual Age.
    Interestingly, I think there is a clear relationship between Tim’s career management plan and the six right-brain “senses” that Pink describes; specifically:
    – Design: going beyond the utility of your skill set to its significance and emotional appeal;
    – Symphony: considering how your combined competencies and attributes contribute to your unique promise of value;
    – Story: crafting messages to clearly communicate what you offer;
    – Empathy: building a network of mutual benefit with others;
    – Joy: identifying work you love where you can be yourself;
    – Meaning: making a difference in the lives of the people you serve.
    If it’s true that “right-brainers” will rule the future, it’s important to focus on these abilities as part of your branding and approach to managing your career.

  2. Cindy, the numbers on changing jobs, companies and industries are staggering. And on the call with Netshare you talked about shorter time-periods for CFOs, if I remember correctly.
    I’m excited that more people are looking into career management, with “transitions” being a large part of that, rather than just trusting their companies to take care of them. Thanks for an insightful post.
    Jason Alba
    CEO – http://www.JibberJobber.com

  3. Thanks Jason,
    I believe strongly that networking is the tool that leverages the strength of career management. So much so, that I’ve invited Lynne Waymon, co-author of “Make Your Contacts Count” to join me in the CFO-Career-Forum on June 19. She will be providing strategies to create, cultivate, and capitalize on relationships that will boost value to your employer and your career.
    If you know you are going to be on the street every 3-5 years, doesn’t it make sense to be prepared to make your next move on your terms and on your timeline? A solid network is key to maintaining control of that next career move.
    Cindy Kraft
    the CFO-Coach

  4. I think it depends on the brand of the CEO. If a CEO drove a companies earnings from $7 billion to $13 billion in a year, they would be offered a job before someone who has not shared in those results.


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