5 Tips for Mapping Your Path to Make the Best Career Choices

By Mitch Wienick, President, Kelleher Associates

There is no one clear path to achieving a successful and lucrative career. There are, however, a number of avenues and roads you may take to get there. Each road is a passageway to opportunities that result in growth and well-metered progress, or diversions and detours that risk derailing your career.

Illuminating your future and paving the way to success through a career transition is well within your grasp. But, it requires a lot of hard work on your part. When it comes to career management, you have to be proactive in today’s volatile economy.  It’s especially important to be disciplined and systematic and leave nothing to chance.

Whether you’ve reached a career fork in the road, or are looking for your next opportunity, the best way to steer your career is to set clear targets and objectives. Consider these 5 Tips for Mapping Your Career Path to Make the Best Career Choices as part of your roadmap:

1. Work for an Academy Company

Early in your career, an excellent career choice is to work for what we call an “academy” company. Companies like Google, P&G, American Express, GE and IBM are known as distinguished places to start a business career as they provide extensive training and people development. You get to learn the business basics from a widely respected, leading organization. When a future employer sees an academy company on your resume, it often gets you in the door and one step closer to your destination.

2. Find Your Mr. Miyagi (of “Karate Kid” fame)

Of all the colleagues with whom you come in contact, invest the time to partner with an executive mentor who is committed to your success. Look for someone with a lot of experience, an executive that is well regarded, selfless and wise. Drawing from their own knowledge base and career experiences, they are able to provide you with solid advice, feedback, and direction.

3. Secure a Variety of Roles

Especially in the first decade of your career, seize opportunities that come your way to experience different roles, responsibilities, and challenges. This diversity of assignments enables you to learn from mistakes and better understand your strengths, what you do well, and what you are passionate about. Once you understand these things about yourself, making thoughtful career choices and mapping out a promising career path becomes clear and crisp.

4. Dare to be Different

Once you’ve built credibility with your supervisor and other senior management, it’s time to proactively seek out career opportunities that differentiate you from your peers. When you have a set of unique, progressive leadership experiences, your value increases exponentially in the eyes of those people positioned to enable your career advancement.

5. Network like a Pro – Early and Often

You want to apply your skills, experience and passion towards a position that affords genuine professional satisfaction and financial reward. Connecting is key. You must proactively work your networks, including executives with whom you’ve worked, professional service providers, customers and vendors, board members, investors and executive recruiters to help you target the role and company that is going to provide you with your best all-around opportunity.

As with any successful journey, you must keep looking ahead, be clear about the direction you’re taking, and stay alert to oncoming opportunities and challenges. Preparedness, along with the ability to quickly adapt to changing conditions, ensures that you stay on the path of successful career choices that ultimately get you to your goal of job satisfaction and financial success.