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Career Management: Defining the Process and Purpose

The term “career management” is a bit abstract for some people. It sounds like this fluffy, indefinable concept that doesn’t really mean a whole lot. In reality, career management is a very significant and specific process that, when done properly, helps to ensure long-term career success.

According to, it’s sort of like contributing to your own career piggy bank:

Career management uses concepts similar to good financial management. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that a disciplined investment, made on a regular basis, yields a greater return.

In order to get the most out of your career, you have to put some effort into caring for it. Left to its own devices, your career may end up wildly off course. Without a structured career management plan, you’ll quickly find yourself doing what’s easy or convenient or what others want you to do. You may discover that your future goals don’t align with your present-day actions. And, before you know it, your career will be managing you.

1. Career Management is a Lifelong Process

The first point to understand is that career management is not a single event; it’s a part of your career journey. Don’t put it off until you suddenly realize there’s a problem. Just like a car, regular maintenance will help ensure a smooth ride.

2. Career Management is an Active Process

You can’t simply sit back and let others do the work for you. Otherwise, you’ll end up in someone else’s career! You have to be an active, engaged participant.

3. Career Management is a Structured Process

I believe that career management is most beneficial when it is carefully structured. Without structure, most of us would neglect it until an emergency came along. Structure helps keep the process moving at a steady, stable pace regardless of what’s happening.

4. Career Management is about Establishing, Tracking and Correcting:

  • Establish Goals: The real nitty-gritty of career management is in understanding what you’re trying to achieve. This, for many people, can also be the hardest part. Each goal should be broken down into tasks that, once completed, will achieve the goal. A timeline can then be created to map each step along the way.
  • Track Goals: Monitoring progress is a satisfying and useful strategy. Career management involves regularly checking in on established goals and the movement being made. This helps prevent stagnation and ensures career goals are being methodically incorporated into the rest of your life.
  • Course Correct: Career goals will change and grow just as you do. Part of the career management process involves monitoring and adjusting them as needed. Each step along the way will heighten your understanding of what you want and how to get there. The map isn’t set in stone. As you move forward, the career management process will help you identify new paths and new destinations.

Participating in a structured career management process demonstrates the important role that career plays in your life as a whole. For most people, your career can provide you with the means to achieve a great number of other personal goals, like buying a house or starting a family or traveling the world. Work also occupies a huge portion of our time spent on this planet, so managing your career is clearly a worthwhile investment of energy.

Photo Credit: docbaty (Flickr)

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12 Responses to “Career Management: Defining the Process and Purpose”

  1. Thu Nguyen says:

    Hi Chrissy,

    I thought I’d hop on over from A Meaningful Existence and continue the conversation. Just like chances, goals need to be defined along the way. Sometimes they aren’t definite to begin with and I’m guilty of that a lot. The aimless direction eventually sways towards many paths until I learn where my strengths are. This post really is great, it definitely aligns with the chances you’re taking.


  2. Ralph says:

    Great piece to read. It illustrated in compact form the basics which we all believe in other areas (I.e. Set goals, monitor results, you get back what you put in)

    My reservations (aka procrastination and fear) never let me get past the potential implications of looking at that general “career management” issue.

    Your piece broke down that unknown into understandeable pieces which I practice in other areas.

    Keep on sharing your perspective!

  3. Chrissy
    This is one of the best descriptions of career management I have ever read.
    I problem that most people have with career management is that they don’t feel that they have control over their career within an organization.
    I have watched careers in financial services where people move from company to company to improve salary and grade. This is the only way they have to “manage” their careers.
    For true career management I think there needs to be interest and support from the employer and that is not always forthcoming.

  4. Chrissy says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts everyone. I’m glad you all enjoyed the article.

    Marion, you raise a great point about control. So many people feel that they don’t have control…that they are simply a pawn in a big game. I think this involves a change of mindset. We all have to recognize our own power and stand up for what we want and deserve. This can be so uncomfortable…and yes, having the support of the employer can make a huge difference. When your employer understands your goals and wants to see you succeed, you know you’re on the same team. A big part of career management involves finding the right employer who will work to help you get where you want to go.

  5. The need for a change management process…

    A process of change management is essential for a large company, where most organizations must work together to provide a product or service offering. Reviews of that product or service can be expensive. Therefore, applications are reviewed and approve…

  6. Hey this is a really helpful article, you have a lot of helpful information.

  7. […] I spend a lot of time sharing information on how to love your career. I talk about making thoughtful decisions, establishing a path and actively managing your goals. […]

  8. […] I spend a lot of time sharing information on how to love your career. I talk about making thoughtful decisions, establishing a path and actively managing your goals. […]

  9. […] my FREE mini-workbook How Nourishing is YOUR Career?. Thanks for visiting.There are a few standard career management tips I recommend to every professional regardless of position, industry, experience level, or […]

  10. Mcaulay says:

    Please am writing a project work on Career decision among adolescence…Any one with useful materials should help me forward them to my email address…

    Thanks in advance

  11. Harmeen says:

    What is the essence of career management

  12. […] are a few standard career management tips I recommend to every professional regardless of position, industry, experience level, or future […]

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