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Proactive Career Development Traits

This is an excerpt from Career Development in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism by Robert Kauffman.

I am constantly on the lookout for new ways to advance my career.

For a proactive job seeker, seeking to advance your career goes without saying. Proactive job seekers are constantly looking for ways to improve and advance their careers. Chapter 5, Bridging, helps to formalize this process and describes specific ways you can acquire the knowledge, skills, abilities, and experiences you need in order to develop your career. Sally Herr will identify the knowledge, skills, abilities, and experiences she needs to become an aquatics director, and then she will develop a simple plan to acquire them.

I feel driven to make a difference with my career.

Do you feel driven to make a difference with your career? Sally Herr may not be driven in the traditional sense, but she would like a job as the aquatics director at the AFC. In this sense, she is proactive and driven to make a difference in her career.

I seek out new career positions rather than wait for them to come to me.

Do you take the initiative, or do you follow after others have taken the initiative? This statement reflects the question at the beginning of this chapter. The proactive job seeker takes the initiative and goes after the job. By following the positioning model and seeking the job at the AFC, Sally Herr went after the job she desired.

Wherever I have been, I have been a powerful force in my career development.

Do you take charge of your job search and career development? If so, you are a powerful force in your career development. By using the positioning model, you demonstrate that you have taken charge of your job search and career development. Sally Herr did. This question illustrates a subtle but important paradigm shift in the job search process. When people become proactive in their job search, the locus of control shifts away from the employer and toward the job seeker. Often, the employer does not become actively involved in the employment process until the one-on-one interview described in chapter 8.

Nothing is more exciting than eventually obtaining the position that I seek.

Exciting may be a slight overstatement; perhaps satisfying better describes the feeling you get from obtaining the position you seek. What could be more satisfying than identifying the position that you want, seeking it out, and then obtaining it? When Sally Herr finally obtained her job with the AFC, though, she was excited.

If I see something in my career development that I don't like, I fix it.

This statement is about showing initiative and having a take-charge attitude. Sally Herr determined that she needed to gain programming experience in water aerobics, and so she completed a water aerobics certification program at her local community college (see chapter 4). In terms of her career development, she fixed a hole in her career development.

I will do what is necessary to develop my career, even if others oppose it.

In a very real sense, this statement measures the intensity of your commitment to and your perseverance regarding your career development. The statement does this in two ways. First, it states it as a positive-that you will do what is necessary to develop your career. Second, it suggests that there might be a cost to your commitment. In the face of the opposition of others, will you still do what is necessary to attain your career goal? It is easy to say that you will do what is necessary to develop your career. Who wouldn't? However, the statement suggests that there might be a price to pay. Are you willing to pay it?

It is important to note that others will often oppose your career development. Change is often upsetting not only to the person making the change but also to those surrounding the person. Your spouse may look at change as a potential loss of income. Some people will react out of jealousy because you are seeking change while they are trapped in their current circumstances. Others will view you as seeking change to get ahead of them in the fictitious race of life. Many people judge their career progression according to those around them.

The first position I obtained after college was in a bank. After working there for a year, I decided to go back to the university to study recreation and parks. My immediate career goal at the time was to become a camp director. My mother was very unhappy about my decision. The simplest way to put it is to say that it was outside of her comfort zone. Although she didn't overtly oppose my decision, she made her opposition known.

I excel at identifying my career opportunities.

In the positioning model, the first step is to decide where you want to work. You may be able to articulate this in terms of your career goal. Chapters 4 and 5, on think evaluation and bridging, will help you identify your career opportunities. Sally Herr identified her career opportunities and then pursued them.

Regarding my career development, I am always looking for better ways to do things.

Better ways to do things can include identifying and acquiring the necessary KSAEs, casing the joint, or seeking a one-on-one interview. They may also involve more traditional actions such as developing your resume and cover letter.

If I need a new skill to advance my career, I will develop it even if I have to pay for it myself.

In a sense, this is a variation of statement 7. It has two parts, challenging you first to develop a new skill to advance your career, and second, to pay for it yourself. The cost of obtaining the new skill includes not only money, but time. This statement reflects perseverance and dedication.

Sally Herr determined that she needed a four-year degree and to increase her programming diversity. She planned to strengthen her credentials by obtaining a water aerobics certification at the local community college. Although her parents were contributing to her tuition, she was willing to pay for the certification, if necessary.

I have recently had a new job or a major promotion.

Are you complacent and satisfied with your career, and with what you are currently doing? If so, are you proactive in terms of your career development? Probably not. The inference of this statement is that if you have recently had a new job or a major promotion, your career is active and you are moving along on your career path. Because Sally Herr is a graduating senior entering the field for the first time, this statement has less relevance for her.

I can spot a good career opportunity long before others can.

This statement embodies the main principles of this book. Proactive job seekers have a good idea of the job they are seeking. Once they know this, they actively seek this position. They network. They case the joint. These are all signs of spotting a good career opportunity long before others can. The principles of positioning described in this book will help you spot good career opportunities before others do and will help you to become more proactive in your job search.

The positioning model gives you the opportunity to see potential career opportunities that others have not seen. It can also help you create a job where one didn't exist previously. Sally Herr spotted a potential career opportunity at the Anytown AFC and then pursued it using the positioning model. It doesn't really matter whether she created a new position where one didn't previously exist, or whether she simply uncovered a job that others didn't see.

Many people who are positioning themselves become fearful that someone else will recognize the career opportunity that they see and steal it from underneath them. This is a natural fear. In most cases, however, you can lay this fear to rest because everyone else is generally oblivious to the career opportunity you see. This is because they haven't put in the time and energy that you have to research the position. In most cases, when you are positioning yourself, you are the only one competing for the position.

More Excerpts From Career Development in Recreation