The APN Staffing Blog

I Dedicate This Decade to…. Managing My Career

As life goes by, we often think we are making every effort to be the best we can be in our careers. But how often do you look back only to realize that you did very little to professionally advance the person looking in the mirror? Managing your career requires a deliberate and dedicated effort to prioritize learning into your daily “to-do” list. Because when your team of four suddenly drops to a team of three, or you’ve been tasked with taking over the dealership’s five social media accounts, or your boss drops a new industry acronym that you can’t seem to Google fast enough, you want to be prepared to confidently jump in and do your job.  

The workforce is constantly evolving – which means that the car industry will only continue to change, its inevitable. So regardless of age, experience or education, it’s in our best professional interest to evolve with it. So why not make a conscious goal to choose to learn each day? This is what it means to “manage your career”. As recruiters in the automotive and transportation industry for 30 years, we’ve found that the people who get their dream positions are the ones who make this practice a priority.   

Network outside of your comfort zone. Let’s face it, networking can be uncomfortable. But instead of running to the restroom or reaching for your phone when everyone is huddled in a group except you, join the conversation. 

The next time you attend an ADOMA meeting, set goals for yourself – maybe something like… I can’t leave until I talk and exchange business cards with at least five new people. Or, if you’re attending because you’ve wanted to meet the meeting’s presenter, come prepared with presentation questions and commit to introducing yourself to him/her during the event.  

– Utilize your online network through LinkedIn and social media. Following a meeting or conversation with someone new, take the initiative to reach out and connect through LinkedIn. If you don’t know them, send them a personalized message letting them know why you want to connect. This is an easy way to expand your network.   

– Think beyond your professional networks, like that network of people you have small chat with at the gym. Be actively engaged, attend social outings, chime in on emails, be present and ask questions. It’s the best way to meet new people. You never know who they could be or how they may help you along the way.  

Know what’s going on in your industry. We can all relate – it’s easier to do something the same way than to learn something new. But to progress, we must fight the urge to take the easy route. Best practices and technology are always changing, so we need to embrace it. Better yet, be the person to suggest a more efficient way of doing things. It’s up to you to know what’s going on in your industry. Some easy ways to do this are: 

– Join professional industry organizations (you’re one step ahead already!).

– Subscribe to at least two industry newsletters or blogs (it’s good to have multiple perspectives or ideas) and allocate 15-30 mins a day to read. 

– Follow industry groups on social media so news pops up in your newsfeed. 

– Attend seminars and conferences. 

– Learn how to use the newest database or software system in your industry. 

Don’t wait. What we mean is, don’t wait for your company to offer training sessions or force you to attend networking events. This is your responsibility. Plus, only you know what you really want – so it’s up to you to go after it! 

Engage in the conversation. When you’ve identified your career goals, communicate them to your boss and coworkers. They may know someone or something that can help you get there. And if this includes feedback, listen and adjust accordingly. This also builds trust and can improve the lines of communication within your team. 

Push yourself.  Reflect on this past decade and specifically identify the circumstances that got you to where you are today. What are they? Did they just fell into your lap? Or did they happen because you put yourself in situations that challenged you to learn and grow? Chances are, it was the ladder.  So next time your dream position becomes available, apply and see what happens. If you don’t get the job, ask why, learn from it and apply again in 2021! 

When people are managing their careers, they are more successful. This becomes a domino effect to those around them. When you are part of a culture that encourages and fosters personal growth, the conversation is less about employee retention and more about company profit. Attrition is unavoidable, but when that happens, you want to be a part of an organization that people want to work for. It makes hiring a whole lot easier, and it makes you more desirable for your next move!

Let the year 2020 be the perfect time to start “managing your career”!