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Career conversations - Who will you talk to?

Your direct line manager is the first, most obvious person.

Make sure they know you want to talk about your career development, not have a performance discussion. Schedule a dedicated career conversation for about 30 minutes

See my previous blog for what to talk about. Do you need information, contacts, perspective on your prospects in the organisation? Would you like to move into a new area, gain a new skill or learn about a part of the business that would complement your current skillset? Do you want to discuss a raise?

Go well-prepared into the career conversation with facts and ideas to share with your manager.

But your manager is not the only person to discuss your career with. Additional perspectives are vital. In your organisation, your department head might be the right person to approach as someone who knows the organisation and your role in it.

In addition, it can be very useful to have a career conversation with someone else in your organisation who knows the ropes and who understands the industry/profession so that they bring some context and perspective to the table. Ask yourself what information or insight you need and who might be able to provide that. Perhaps you have a mentor. One coachee of mine started work on the same day as a dynamic senior manager whom he met at an induction talk and who became an unofficial mentor for him; she was invaluable as a sounding board for career ideas.

If your organisation offers you an internal career coach, then that’s a clear option. They should be able to provide you with information about career paths and opportunities for career development within the organisation.

Also look outside your organisation. Through your industry contacts talk to people outside your company about their career to get some extra colour in your picture of potential options. This is helpful in weighing up pros and cons of moving to another organisation, including the salary discussion.

Headhunters and recruiters can be a useful source of information about jobs in the industry, but remember their interest is not primarily on you.

Finally, an external career coach can offer valuable objective help with your career planning by identifying your values and aspirations and your strengths and will also help with your network leverage.

It’s important to get used to talking abut yourself and your career aspirations. If this is outside your comfort zone, start with friends and people you trust. Bounce your career ideas off them and get their feedback; you will be surprised how easily a career conversation can flow!

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