Become Captain of Your Own Career

“No one is coming to get you”

I am a big Mel Robbins fan and I love this quote from her.

It’s absolutely true, no one is going to take responsibility for your life or your career. It’s down to you to steer yourself in the direction you want to go in, to become the captain of your own ship.

When was the last time you took stock of where you are and where you’re going next?

In the past, a career often took the form of: join a company, work hard, move up the ladder. But the reality is, it just isn’t like that any more. Things are changing so much now technologically that successful companies have to adapt really quickly to changes in the market place and often will have no sure idea about what skills and resourcing needs they’ll require in a few years time and who will be qualified to fill them.

It’s becoming more and more common for careers to progress diagonally or horizontally as well as the more traditional linear ladder. People can change direction, develop and learn new skills to perform different roles and progress in a different ways. Because of this, relying solely on career guidance from your employer on how to move forward may be limiting you.

Taking control yourself of your own career is a powerful thing to do and I’ve suggested some things you can do to take that control and move forward:

  • Research and make yourself aware of the possibilities within your current organisation. Do you understand the organisation you work in and the different areas or departments? If it’s large, it may take some investigation to understand it’s strategy, where it’s heading, what markets it’s targeting, what the current opportunities are, what may be coming down the pipeline and what skills are going to be needed. Grow and nurture your network within the organisation and outside of your organisation. Networking is often the best way to land a new opportunity - internally or externally - even if you’re not looking to move on now, the chances are you will at some point and your network is the perfect place to start.

  • Get some help. Even if your employer isn’t providing specific support for you on your career path, they will certainly recognise and appreciate the value of an engaged employee who is asking for support. Speak to your line manager or HR and provide suggestions about conferences you’d like to attend, training courses your interested in, ask for help on how you can find out about areas of the business you know less about and discuss possibilities for furthering your career in directions other than in a linear way. You can also work with a coach to help identify strategies for moving your career ahead, whether you know where you want to go next or not.

  • Identify your own opportunities. Don’t wait for things to fall into your lap. Remember, no one is coming to get you and that opportunity might not magically materialise. I was reading a book recently about career change and there was an example of a successful management consultant who wanted to change direction and become a chef. Instead of waiting to respond to job adverts, where she knew she’d be competing with other, more highly qualified candidates, she wrote personal letters to a number of high profile chefs she admired and told them why she wanted to work for them. Her personal, targeted approach worked and she got a role as a trainee chef. Of course you don’t have to be making such a massive change, even a change to a new department in your current company can feel like a big change and there can be some of the same difficulties breaking into a new area in your current organisation - perhaps pre-conceived ideas about transferable skills for instance. So, develop your own strategy to break into the areas you want to and create your story about why you want that change.

  • Have people in your corner. A mentor, a leader who is prepared to help you and guide you, a good network. Keep those people up to date with what you’re doing and how you’re developing your skills and what your aspirations are so they can let you know about relevant opportunities.

  • You can also work with a coach to help you plan strategies for achieving the next step in your career. Contact me at if you’d like some support to put yourself in the driving seat of your career and achieve your goals.