Career Development for All Generations... Think E-Squared


As we approach the middle of the 21st century’s second decade, the career development ladder and associated paradigms have been flipped upside down in many ways.  The internet and technology tools have helped to expand people’s knowledge and awareness of self-development seminars and career enhancing programs.  These are available locally, virtually and sometimes globally.  So, how does this impact today’s multi-generation workforce?

Over the next 10-15 years, the baby boomer generation will fully exit the workforce.  Generation X employees are and will continue to move into the highest levels of leadership, from the Fortune 1000 to family-owned businesses.  Millennials are entering the workforce rapidly and will be pushing both generations ahead of them in the years and decades to come.

Millenials and Career DevelopmentThe Millennial generation is well known for asking questions and possessing a boldness that prior generations may not have exhibited as early or as frequently in their careers.  Personally, I am always impressed with a younger professional when they pose challenging questions and/or offer new insights that more experienced staff or leadership simply may not have ever considered.  Both Generation X and Baby Boomers can learn from their less experienced counterparts in this regard.

Regardless of whether you are a new college graduate, a mid-careerist or approaching retirement, what should you do in the next 24 months to improve your career trajectory?

Taking Action

For some, the best way to accelerate your career progression is to complete an unfinished degree or begin an advanced degree.  Based on your field of expertise, you could obtain a new certification (or renew one that might have lapsed), or accept a growth assignment with your firm if you work for a large, multi-national conglomerate.

No matter your situation, I would like to share a few thoughts about a simple, yet profound formula that provides clear guidance on how to succeed at a higher rate in corporate America:  E2 = Excellence and Exposure.


E-Squared = Excellence and ExposureMost of us strive daily to exceed the standard requirements in our jobs.  When the spotlight is brightest and the pressure is strong, the majority of us will surprise ourselves and go above and beyond what is expected of us.  However, there are times when we may not receive the accolades we expected.  Remember, your company leadership’s and your boss’s assessments matter the most.  Be sure to clearly understand expectations and check-in regularly, especially on extended projects and strategic initiatives.  If you do not receive that desired promotion, do you react professionally, ask questions about your shortcomings and devise a plan to ensure you win next time?

As the legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden remarked in 2009 in his book, “Coach Wooden’s Leadership Game Plan for Success,” with regards to time:  “I valued it, gave it respect and tried to make each minute a masterpiece.”  That is so powerful!  With so many distractions to our time (social media, smart phones, endless obligations), how do we better manage each and every minute of our days?  With Coach Wooden’s laser focus on planning and process, one can look back and see how exemplary his results were:  10 National Championships in 12 years and 88 straight game wins.  Incredible results without a doubt, but never forget the hard work and sweat equity UCLA’s teams had during those dynasty years.  They were laser focused and made the most valuable use of their time.


E-Squared = Excellence & Exposure“It’s all in who you know,” a statement that rings true in many ways.  The critical piece in my opinion is the inverse of this saying:  “it’s all in who knows you.”  Building relationships with leaders in your industry and in your respective companies is absolutely vital.  Organizations are successful when they provide opportunities for their key talent (as well as their high potentials) to grow, develop, and learn new skills to expand existing abilities.  Do not wait for that next training class or trade show offering continuing education credits.  Raise your hand and go for it!

I heard an applicable story recently.  Someone was attending a large meeting (around 100 people) and the facilitator asked for someone to join him on stage as a role player.  The crowd hesitated; finally, my friend raised her hand and moved quickly to the front of the crowd.  After the meeting adjourned, her future boss pulled her aside and discussed a career opportunity.  Just a few weeks later, my friend started her new job with this employer.  As the mission of the Star Trek Enterprise stated so eloquently:  “To Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before.”   

Be bold and courageous in business; you never know what good thing may come your way! 


Allow me to offer some guiding principles we share with individuals that work with our firm, whether utilizing executive search, coaching, outplacement or career transition services: “Put yourself in a position to succeed.”  In the context of career development, here are four items to keep in mind.

  1. Create a career development plan in alignment with your own goals and aspirations, using input and guidance of your immediate manager and his/her manager. Do not forget to include your spouse in these discussions!
  2. Every quarter, review your plan.  Some would argue this is too often, but do what works best for you. There are many factors to consider here.  As a major proponent of self-awareness and evaluation, I would recommend more frequently as opposed to less often. Are you on target? What have you done to achieve your plan goals?
  3. Be active in your industry and local community.  Network with others that speak your language.  Take a leadership role in a non-profit as a volunteer or a board member.  Enhance your skills, both in the workplace and during your off-duty time.
  4. Be deliberate and intentional with mentors at your company and elsewhere.  Be humble and ask others for ideas, guidance and feedback.  Again, frequency counts; annual reviews are fantastic but should be a formality if you are having regular communication and dialogue with your managers.

Combining Excellence and Exposure makes a positive impact.  Making an extraordinary effort daily in all that you do pays off, with your current or future employer.  Put in the time, network internally and externally, challenge yourself and be ready for a new opportunity.  A strategic career development plan, executed with precision, leads to career acceleration.  Good luck to you!

Career Partners International provides top quality talent management services to organizations of all sizes. Their offices around the world help assessengagedevelop, and transition talent in any industry. To find out more about Career Partners International and how you can maximize your organizational performance, reach out to an office near you or contact us today!

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  1. Russ Knight's avatar
    Russ Knight
    | Permalink
    Please read all the way through this because there is some great counsel here, especially in the conclusion section. As you say here, it's one thing to have a career development plan (not many do!) but it's another to continue to review and manage that intentionally.

    Thanks for sharing, Martin!
  2. maigrir vite's avatar
    maigrir vite
    | Permalink
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