The Keys to Mid-Career Success

Michigan Technological University just hosted a record 360+ recruiting organizations at its recent Fall Career Fair. Michigan Tech students engaged with 1,300 corporate recruiters that were looking for unique qualities such as the ability to work in diverse teams, possessing the resilience to learn from failures, and having the ability to clearly communicate their ideas. But what are the skills you need to be successful in your mid-career?
Susan Keihl, Vice President of Product Development at Lockheed Martin offers four cornerstones to live by to advance your career. They include: deliver value, drive innovation, increase efficiency, and develop the talents of others. You need to learn to make decisions and take ownership of those choices. You and you alone are responsible for the quality of each decision, so be thoughtful in choosing each action you take. As you make decisions, follow the process of execute, monitor, and course correct, then begin the process again.
As you build your career you need to continue to add ‘tools’ to your tool box. Lisa Genslak, a leader in Ford’s IT Strategic Services Division, notes that these tools will vary by individual, based on your personal needs and career path. Developing the ability to be emotionally resilient will be of great value. Don’t take criticism personally, but learn from it. A byproduct of this lesson is to make sure you consider the feelings of others in your everyday interactions with peers. This is a process of continuous learning. Each situation offers a learning opportunity so make sure you take time to reflect on them and capture the lesson learned.
If you wish to advance your career, push yourself outside your comfort zone. Take on projects that challenge you both personally and professionally. Gone are the days where you can expect to work at the same job you started when you graduated from school. Today corporate America encourages cross-discipline experiences. Each of us sees the world differently, has been involved in a unique set of experiences, and possesses a unique skill set. Diverse teams are able to visualize a broader set of possible challenges, while identifying a wider set of possible solutions to consider.
Networking is becoming a vital tool for career success. A recent Forbes survey found that over 70 percent of mid-career jobs are fill before they are ever posted publicly. Building this network starts as soon as you hit your college campus. Building relationships with you professors, with recruiters at career fairs and other networking events on campus, and in your industry experience from co-op experiences as a student to full-time jobs are all part of the process. These people become not only friends but resources for you personally and professionally, providing you access to these mid-career job opportunities.
Mid-career success is determined by actions you have taken to increase your value to others. That value must be communicated using the personal and professional network you have built. It is sustained through your efforts as a life-long learner, constantly achieving the challenges you have set for yourself and adding new tools to your tool box!

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