How to use agile methodologies in your work life to maintain an agile career.
An “agile career path” might sound like an oxymoron to some. Careers are often thought of as a straight ladder of successive promotions, with a clear beginning and end. But if you look at someone in the top of your field, you’d likely notice a professional history that looks more like a zig-zagged staircase. If you read some of our Day in the #LifeAtCA blog series, you’ll see stories from many CA employees who took on different, lateral challenges for many years to create a strong base for becoming a well-rounded and savvy leader. There are a few different agile-inspired ways you can forge an impressive career.
Defining Your User Story
Perhaps you’ve heard interview feedback along the lines of whether you were a good “fit” for the role. In that feedback, what were the skills that stood out and which ones were missing? What could you learn or experience to help you check all the boxes for that next promotion?
The first thing you should consider is which roles or departments closely work with yours, but are currently outside of your skillset and experience. If you’re a database engineer, this might include user experience designers or product marketing. Finance graduates trying their hands in planning may also be interested in revenue. A public relations professional may find social media interesting. No matter the specifics, you should learn what skill gaps you need to overcome and consider the investment it would require to do so. For example:
- Go to a community college or university to obtain a certificate or additional degree. Don’t forget to ask your employer if they provide tuition reimbursement!
- Take an online course from a service like CodeSchool, Lynda or YouTube. You can even visit the website for a tool you’d like to become proficient in, as many of these companies provide free tutorial videos.
- Learn how to become involved in any in-house development programs provided by your employer. For example, CA Technologies offers its employees an award-winning Leadership Development Program and a massive list of online learning courses.
- Seek out a mentor or participate in online forums focused on your new professional interest.
Impediments and Solutions
Sometimes a good lateral move is created out of a need to solve a problem. You may have heard a story or two of someone demonstrating a clever way to save money or time in their job and being asked to implement it full-time. Those lightbulb moments are rarely a matter of chance; they tend to come from those who are consistently relentless in identifying problems and figuring out a solution. You may not consciously be scanning your organization or personal work patterns for inefficiencies, but cultivating self-awareness will bring the realizations to mind. You should practice thinking through how you would solve any issues you come across naturally in the workplace. When you finally see that problem for which you have the perfect solution, consider these points to prepare for presenting your clever idea to the boss:
- Will it save money? How much? How would you measure that?
- Will it save time (and will that in turn, save money)?
- Is it something you could implement? If it is a small project, offer to add it to your current to-do list. If it’s going to be a full-time job, you may want to take the plunge and propose a new role for yourself.
Iterative Career Developments
Surprise! A job opening has suddenly captured your eye. Maybe it’s the exact job you’ve been hoping and training for, or maybe it’s one you never thought about doing until now. What next? Let’s break it down.
If the job opening is at your current company:
Get familiar with the internal transfer process and rules. Many employers give stipulations around length and review scores in your current role. You should also inform your manager that you intend to apply to the role before taking any steps. Be sure to ask for advice from your manager on how to proceed.
If the job opening is at another company:
This is a great time to refresh your resume with your new skills and experience and ensure that your goals are made apparent and relevant. Do your research on Glassdoor, the potential company’s website, and market salary averages. List pros and cons for the new opportunity vs your career path capability at your current company.
No matter how you find the opportunity to flex your resume, it’s all about adding valuable features to reach your goals. As CA’s Rebecca Taylor says, “Don’t plan your career too much – just do something you find interesting, be curious, and take every opportunity you can.”
Looking for your next best agile career move at CA Technologies? Search jobs now.
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