Physics describes momentum as mass times velocity (P=MV). To understand the primary variables of “career momentum” think of career “mass” as the strength of your professional profile and “velocity” as the degree to which you have access to opportunities in the job market. The greater your mass and your velocity, the greater your career momentum. To have mass without velocity dimishes your career momentum. To have velocity but insufficient mass also limits career progress.
Career mass is defined by the primary factors that hiring companies and employers seek in potential new hires. Experience has shown that primary factors that employers assess are: experience, knowledge, results, potential, interpersonal skills, energy/passion, influencing skills, learning agility, and personal reputation.
Career velocity, the degree to which you have access to job opportunities in the market, is largely determined by the relevancy of your skill sets, your positioning in the market, size and quality of your professional network, track record/stability with prior employers, and the quality of organizations and people you have worked with.
To increase your career mass/professional profile you well served to – proactively seek out projects, roles and responsibilities that expand and further build your experience, accomplishments and knowledge; focus on work and initiatives that matter and have visibility within the organization; build strong cross-functional relationships and show examples of leadership to exhibit your interpersonal skills and visible influence. (Note: Leadership can be displayed at any level of an organization, not just senior roles.) Lastly, being mindful about proactively building your reputation and taking care not to tarnish it is especially important in building your profile. All it takes, as we’ve seen repeatedly on the front pages of the media, is a single mis-step to cause significant damage to a hard-earned reputation that has been built over many years.
To increase your career velocity/access to attractive job opportunities in the market it pays off to – be conscientious about updating your skill sets and staying current (or ahead of the curve) in your function; be thoughtful about evolving an effective personal positioning in the talent market (ideally, a high demand/limited supply positioning versus low demand/high talent supply); build a personal value proposition that is relevant, in-demand, and well supported by evidence in your background; deliberately seek out beneficial and targeted networking opportunities each day/week; work for quality organizations with strong management teams and a positive track record; and build a track record that exhibits some stability and increases in responsibility or promotions within a given organization. Employers clearly do not respond as favorably to job candidates who have a history of job hopping.
The critical thing to remember in building career momentum is that you need to be proactive and thoughtful in building your career mass and career velocity. Doing this successfully will lead to more rapid advancement, higher compensation, and greater job satisfaction. Your success in accomplishing this is determined by you, the actions you take, and the decisions that you make along the way.
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