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A productive career — one that steadily advances — has a certain signature; it has clarity around the specific position an individual is targeting. And it is time specific; it has a 24-month period to achieve the objective.

For example, “I intend to be director of marketing for TELUS by March 1, 2021” is a focused career plan objective which can inform the action plan to actually see it come to fruition.

When this clarity of purpose is missing, the actions individuals take are confused; they are not measured towards a goal and their intentions are often vague and inconsistent.

People are busy but they can’t get the meaningful traction they need to make progress.

To relentlessly keep moving forward, your career game plan needs to be focused on your desired outcome. It’s the only way your actions will have purpose and can be measured for their effectiveness.

You’re not aligned with the strategy of the organization

In a perfect world, every employee in an organization is homomorphically aligned with the game plan it has set in motion.

Each person delivers results that contribute to moving the organization forward on its chosen path, and behaves in a manner consistent with the values the organization has decided to define how people work together to achieve those results.

People who excel in achieving the strategic objectives of the organization typically have a successful career; those who out of alignment with them do not.

So if you sense your in the stall mode, check to ensure that your priorities are directly aligned with leadership’s strategic intent. Take the initiative to ask them if you are working on the right projects; revise your work plan accordingly.

Finally, tell leadership what you’ve done; they will be impressed and you will be climbing again sooner than you think.

Your competitive strategy is ineffective

The competition for jobs in every organization is more intense than ever before; fewer opportunities and more people hunting for those opportunities often results in raging battles to determine the winner.

Winners have a specific strategy to compete with the crowd for these limited opportunities. They have perfected their career game plan and have created a unique value proposition that separates them from everyone else.

Their focus is on being the ONLY one that does what they do; they resist claims like “best” or “better” to describe their capabilities.

If your career is stalling, it might be that either you don’t have a personal ONLY statement or you have one that doesn’t work — it doesn’t make you standout from others in a way that is relevant to the needs of the organization.

Work on your ONLY as your number one priority. Get it right, and use it to answer the tough question “Why should I hire you and not the 100 other people who have applied for this position?”

You’re not spending enough time with your mentors

In times of uncertainty and change it is critical to stay close to people who have been through it before; people you trust and whose advice and guidance you listen to.

Successful careers are built on the back of a stable of mentors who help mitigate the risks and obstacles people face.

A symptom of tour career slowdown could be the amount of time you are spending with your mentors.

When the rate of change around you is extreme, it is essential you are constantly with them.

They need to hear the latest version of your career plan, the competition you face and the setbacks you have experienced. Ask for their comments and insights on actions you could take.

Check your calendar. If you are not setting time aside to meet a mentor at least once a week, get on it and book some appointments for the next 3 months.

Your network is out of date

Data is important; information is power and advantage. And information enables speed. In fact whoever possesses the most reliable information is in the best position to outdo everyone around them — they do the right thing quicker. And success usually follows.

Where does information originate? People own the information that is critically important to the first mover in the career market.

Someone knows someone and something that you can use to advance your agenda.

If you’re in a holding pattern, perhaps your network is failing you and it needs to be refreshed.

Inventory your connections:
  • Do you have people connected with areas critical to your career plan? How many of your LinkedIn connections actually relate to your target position?
  • Are they acquaintances or proven advocates? How many of them called you and referred you to others?
  • Have they told you anything interesting lately?

Purge your list down to the critical few people who can actually provide you with the information that could help you and who are willing to do so. And add to the list if you have voids.

If your career has taken a time out, chances are you’ve not been paying attention to the vital factors that govern its success.

Be attentive to what you’ve just read and you’ll be going vertical again soon.

Written By
Roy Osing is a former President and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience covering all the major business functions including business strategy, marketing, sales, customer service and people development. He is a blogger, content marketer, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead. You can also read more of Roy Osing's articles at his website.

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