Career Experiences: Prepare for a Marathon, not a Sprint!

Author: Aparna Ghosh

A famous Maya Angelou quote says “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Isn’t this true for all our career experiences as well? Every stint in your career leaves a mark on you. Well, it can be good or bad but it’s definitely filled with learnings and as a true professional you charge ahead in your career journey – well a tad bit “wiser”.

A vertical career trajectory is something that all of us look forward to. An executive wants to become a manager, a manger wants to become a Sr. Manager, a senior manager eyes the assistant general manager position and henceforth. There is this constant hunger and need for validation with careers and growth paths designed around positions. What is interesting is even after achieving a certain desired position, professionals don’t achieve “nirvana”, they just become unhappier.

There needs to be a shift in the mindset. Careers have to be stopped being linked to fancy designations, they have to be focused on creating an experience for a professional. Let me answer the million dollar question, how does an organization create an experience-focused career for a professional and let me tell you it doesn’t get created by giving out free gift vouchers and dinner parties time to time.

A great career experience is created with the following:

Enrich and augment existing jobs: Upskilling is a must in this VUCA world. And it’s not a L&D tick mark activity. Build skills that employees need for their career enhancement. Add assignments, additional projects to work with various teams/businesses within an organization that adds to the experience of an individual. Focus on the quality of work rather than the quantity of work.

Rotate jobs: A high potential employee will get bored with the mundane work every day. Create a job rotation cycle so he/she starts getting a complete view of the organization and starts developing into a future asset for the organization.

Thriving Environment: Create a working environment where employees feel free to share their ideas with their superiors /colleagues and are given complete support and autonomy to execute them. A majority just gets exhausted and burn out by running from pillar to posts for approvals.

Ratings and Recognition: A great career experience is often created when an employee gets fairly rated for the value he/she brings on the table and gets recognized for the efforts one is putting in. If an organization’s performance rating system fails to recognize the effort of an employee, it’s definitely a deal breaker.

Visibility: Is your current role giving you industry visibility? Are you encouraged to attend industry seminars/conferences? Are you given an opportunity to showcase your work within an organization? Is networking a part of your KRA? Unfortunately, most organizations fail to focus on the very critical part – creating visibility for their employees and this becomes even more critical especially during remote working.

While organizations are trying to figure out a way to create improved “career experiences” for their employees, it is important for professionals to be even more demanding when it comes to their own careers. Stop doing mundane work just because of the pay check, network on your own, ask for additional projects within your organization, pick up gig projects if you are on a break, upskill yourself and don’t shy away from making lateral moves if they give you an opportunity to create a great career experience for yourself!

We need to remind ourselves constantly – “Careers are marathons, not sprints. You will fall down, you will hurt yourself but you will finish the race.” Promise that to yourself as professionals because you’re all worth it!

*The author is a demand generation, digital, content and brand marketing professional with 13+ years of experience in the education and SaaS technology space.*