Career Development: Is Your Career Path Really A Strategic Game?

career strategy May 11, 2011
Is your career a strategic game

With the job market heating up I've recently had a number of people talk with me about how their approaches to finding a new job or getting promoted. During these conversations I often hear about some elaborate plans- how to portray yourself to one person, what information to withhold from someone else. The most complex "plans" involve trying to position oneself favorably across the office political lines. Make sure that person A doesn't find out you're looking for a job, but make sure that person B does. Maybe get someone to hint to person B that you are interested in a position in his/her group.

The people who come to me with these stories are often pretty successful but have not progressed as quickly as they want or feel their career has stalled. What amazes me is the just how elaborate and thought out these plans or strategies are. Often these people are receiving advice from family, friends or colleagues that reinforce this approach. Unfortunately these strategies rarely work, and even when they appear to work because you get a job offer or promotion, it is often something different.

After hearing this elaborate plan, I first ask: Think about the story you just told me. Are you going right from point A to point B with your career or are you meandering all over dodging, hiding, showing just a part of yourself? Even if someone wanted and was able to help you, you're showing just a small piece of the puzzle. If you want your career to advance quickly, which approach do you think will get you there faster? What are the chances that if someone is only seeing a small part of you that you will get hired or be referred to the right person?

Strategic Game Or Strategic Plan?

How are you viewing your job search or career planning? Do you view it as a game? Maybe you even use the word game - "You've got to play the game to get ahead." If you're playing a game, you're going to get the results of a game. However, if you have a professional attidude and plan, you will have strong results.

In order to reach your greatest potential as soon as you can you do need to have a career strategic plan. That strategy, however, needs to be real and authentic to work well. When you are pretending to be someone you are not, you are playing a game. When you are being yourself, you are creating the path of least resistance. Authenticity is a key quality employers are looking for and it's also a cornerstone of personal branding.

When you are authentic, people take you seriously. When you are inauthentic people may see through you. Being inauthentic will also will wear you out. Your career strategic plan should be well-thought out, reasonable and most importantly authentic to you.

Key Take Away

Drop the pretending. Drop the elaborate plans. Get to know yourself and how you are perceived. Learn how to present yourself. Be yourself.

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