Career Stages – My Version, Part 1

One of the best things I had a chance to learn in my previous company is Lominger system of competences and career development approach. It includes career stages classification.

It’s not that I think that this system is fantastic for career development – it has its own flaws, but working with it and having a chance to practice it triggered a lot of thinking and contemplating on this topic. When you have to perform over 100 job interviews based on competences and work with your team member on 50+ career development plans, you definitely build some muscles in this area. Of course, that is if you honestly dedicate your time and energy to this topic.

But, of course I will not tell you about Lominger. I will give you my classification of career stages and what you should develop in each stage from my view. This is not scientifically based, of course. I don’t have any studies to support it. I only have 15 years of working with people, developing myself and others and thinking about this topic more than one person should.

Most of my categories contain name “tourist” in line with the concept that you should not be a tourist in your life, but preferably in your office.


Stage One – Happy Backpacker  

Landing to your first job. Everything is new and exciting. Great expectations, interesting people, good or not-so-good bosses. But you should not care too much! Did you care how hotel looked like when you were 16?

Enjoy this stage as much as possible. Try everything! But most importantly: establish good connections with your peers. This is the best you can do at this stage. Several people from my first serious job are still part of my closest network and my big support. There is something emotional about the first job. Almost like with first love or first drunk night out.

What is the most important to learn at this stage: take feedback and criticism, establish working relationships, fight for your ideas and have fun in the office.

Don’t stay at this job too long. One to two years maximum.


Stage Two – Accidental Tourist

You’ll probably get your second job by accident. You are still not brave enough to start looking for other options and still inexperienced enough so headhunters are not going to call. So, this second stage will run into you when you don’t expect it. What should you do?

Raise your profile not for one but for two stages! Instead of coming to a new environment as a modest person with limited experience (which might be true), try pushing yourself in a way that people get maximum respect for you and perceive you as someone more important than you actually are.

And work your ass off! Now is the time. You are not an absolute beginner so your learning curve can be very fast.

What is the most important to learn at this stage: Sell! Sell what you do, sell to clients, sell yourself! Also, start developing your leadership skills: motivating people, leading teams, developing projects by yourself… It’s very important to do something on your own at this stage. Feel how it looks when you are fully responsible for something.

When to leave this stage? In many cases, it’s not just your decision. But definitely it’s easier to do it before you get too attached to a certain working environment and people.


Stage Three – Business Globetrotter 

When you learn how to sell, and you get some experience, expertise and hopefully some success, it’s time to find a bigger and different stage. Ideally, it would mean to go somewhere abroad to work: have a lot of business travels, conferences, meetings all over the region/world…  I have never fully done it. I did some international projects, spend two years traveling around central and eastern Europe but never moved somewhere to live.

This is important because you can test yourself on this new beginning. You are not inexperienced anymore, but the new market will cut your benefits of the network you have built, your knowledge of the market, one phone call solutions… This is a great test for you as professional – to benchmark yourself and see how far you can go.

What is the most important to learn at this stage: managing complex projects in different cultures, assessing people quickly based on what you see and not what you know about them, presenting in front of important audiences in a foreign language, balancing personal and professional life – it’s very easy in expat role to destroy your personal life, no matter how old you are or what your family status is. Polishing communications skills here is essential.

Stay in this role until you run out of energy for it, because it’s fun but it’s also exhausting. Unless you have this in your blood – then you don’t have to read the rest of the post. You will stay business globetrotter forever.

Ready to see what is next? You will find Part 2 of this article HERE!


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