Career Stages: Which One Are You In?

Sections of this topic

    career stagesCareers are like life, they don’t stand still. They progress from one stage to another.

    Here are career stages that you are going through, have been through, or hope to go through. Pay attention to the potential roadblocks – they can make or break your career advancement.

    Stage I – Apprenticeship: Learning the Ropes

    You are fresh, most likely young or starting over in a new career. You are hungry for knowledge and seek out guidance from others. At first you are most likely part of a team with specific tasks. You may be closely supervised until your boss has confidence in your abilities. Your “job” is not only to do the work assigned but also to learn about the culture, the company, and the colleagues you work with.

    Potential career roadblock: Settling into your current role.
    As you develop your capabilities, you may become too comfortable. You’re no longer the new kid on the block. You know your way around. This is the most important time to grow in your career. Ask for more assignments that will expand your expertise and experience. Keep moving ahead.

    Stage II – Independent Contributor: Establishing a Reputation

    Now you are a doer. You are taking on more responsibility and developing technical depth in assignments. You re also given more autonomy – making decisions that you boss made earlier in your career. You may be part of a committee that makes recommendations on the best software or ways to increase customer satisfaction. This is an opportunity to stand out and shine.

    Potential career roadblock: Indecision about your next career move.
    Most of us in this stage could steer our careers in several directions. If you are not sure where you want to end up, you may never move toward the goal. So assess if you want to expand your expertise with more challenging assignments or start leading projects or teams in order to develop your managerial abilities. See Generalist vs Specialist.

    Stage III – Leader: Developing and Managing Others

    You have the title of supervisor, manager or director. As you progress in this position, you have staff under you. It could be 5 people or even 50. You now get things done and get results through others. You are assigning tasks, managing their work efforts and coaching them to improve or enhance their performance. It may be difficult for you not to be so hands-on since your hands-on skills are what got you here.

    Potential career roadblock: Not focusing on your interpersonal skills.
    Management is dealing with all kinds and levels of people –subordinates, peers, boss or bosses, other departments or business units, even other companies and the list goes on. It’s important to have well developed communication, negotiation, team building skills. If you don’t, your career growth will be in jeopardy.

    Stage IV – Executive: Exercising Power

    You have significant organization responsibility. Your focus is not on day to day operations but on strategy – the future of the organization. Your role is to be proactive – to anticipate change, plan for it, initiative it and lead the organization as it goes through it. That requires dealing more with the external environment and making tough, hard decisions.

    Potential career roadblock: Not using the real influence that you have.
    By being indecisive and not pushing strategy forward, you may appear wavering or lackluster. People look to their senior leaders for vision, guidance and encouragement especially in these very changing times.

    Career Success Tip:

    By knowing what career stage you are in, you can focus on the key tasks and avoid the key roadblocks so that you are most effective. Also by knowing the next career stage, you can anticipate and prepare for your next position. In that way you will be proactive, rather than reactive, in your career management.

    Do you want to develop Career Smarts?