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Why You Need to Take Your Career into Your Own Hands (and What Happens if You Don’t)

Rachel Serwetz
Rachel Serwetz
June 11, 2024
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In the dynamic job market of 2024, it's crucial to understand that your career is your responsibility. Relying solely on your employer to recognize your potential and reward your efforts can leave you in a reactive position, missing out on valuable opportunities. Here’s why you need to be proactive in managing your career and the consequences of not doing so.

Do You Want to Guarantee a Promotion, or Get Passed Up for One?

One of the most immediate impacts of not taking control of your career is being overlooked for promotions. If you’re not actively demonstrating your interest in advancement, asking for feedback, and showcasing your achievements frequently, it’s easy for managers to pass you over for more vocal or visible colleagues. Waiting for your hard work to be noticed without advocating for yourself can lead to frustration and stagnation.

Salary Impact

Your salary is directly tied to how actively you manage your career. Without negotiating raises or seeking higher-paying opportunities, you might find yourself earning less than your market value. Proactive career management includes regular market research to understand your worth and the confidence to negotiate for what you deserve. By striving to advance your skill set, you will reach new heights that in turn, earn you higher pay and allow you to grow up the ladder.

Recency Bias in Performance Reviews

Performance reviews often suffer from recency bias, where recent events overshadow your long-term contributions. If you’re not continuously documenting, sharing, and highlighting your achievements and progress, your year-long successes may be forgotten, resulting in lower or biased performance ratings. Regularly updating your managers and other critical stakeholders on your accomplishments in a written fashion ensures that your efforts are recognized and remembered, and these documents can be easily referred back to once performance reviews roll around. Documentation in this manner will also make it clear how far you’ve come in the span of a year and help you to synthesize and make clear for others to see the total impact you have delivered.

Visibly Share Your Achievements

Visibility is key to career advancement. If you’re not sharing your achievements, no one will know about them. This doesn’t have to feel like bragging but rather communicating your successes in a professional manner. Regular updates to your manager and team about your progress and contributions can keep you top-of-mind for new opportunities. You can experiment with a “1 pager” that you share monthly that includes key projects, ideas or suggestions, areas you want to grow in or get involved in, and other critical information. This shows that you take your career seriously and that others should too. Plus, it may allow you to open the door to volunteer for or be tapped for high-visibility projects that are better aligned with your professional interests and help you organically pave your career path in the direction you want it to go in. 

Networking for Job Security

Networking across the organization also ensures that you proactively build relationships with other adjacent, relevant, interesting teams. This way, if there are ever reorgs or restructurings, you have strong relationships whereby other roles may become relevant to you if your team becomes dissolved or affected by layoffs. Of course, you should be proactively networking outside of your organization as well on a periodic basis to build new relationships with professionals at other target companies.

Promotion Processes Are Often Behind the Scenes

Promotion processes often involve numerous behind-the-scenes discussions and considerations. Being proactive means seeking to accurately understand promotion processes, critical timelines, and stakeholders, and positioning yourself as a strong candidate at the right time, with strong documentation and backup. Seek mentors or leverage colleagues and managers to be sure you understand exactly how and when promotion processes work and how succession decisions are made at your organization.

Make Your Growth Path Explicit & Check In Proactively

Clear communication with your manager is essential. Have explicit conversations about what it will take for you to get promoted, what they need to see from you, and set measurable goals. Regularly check in on your progress and seek feedback. This proactive approach not only shows your commitment but also helps you stay on track and make necessary adjustments to achieve your career goals. 

Do the Next Role to Get the Next Role

You may help your manager with his or her responsibilities and take on stretch projects. Or you may take courses to develop and level up your skills. Essentially, you will need to grow and develop your capabilities and start operating at that more senior level in order to earn that next title. Just be sure that you know exactly in what ways your manager needs to see your development, then work on those areas of growth, and then showcase clearly how you have grown and changed to prove you are operating at that next level.


Taking your career into your own hands means actively managing your path, from seeking out promotions to negotiating salaries and maintaining visibility. By being proactive, you can avoid the pitfalls of being overlooked and ensure that your contributions are recognized and rewarded. In today’s competitive job market, this proactive approach is not just beneficial but essential for career growth and satisfaction.

LinkedIn Post: 

📈 Why You Need to Take Your Career into Your Own Hands (and What Happens if You Don’t) 🚀

In today's fast-paced job market, your career is YOUR responsibility. Here’s why proactive career management is crucial and what can happen if you don’t take charge:

🔹 Passed Up for Promotions: Don’t wait for recognition—advocate for your growth and showcase your achievements regularly.

🔹 Salary Impact: Know your worth and negotiate! Staying passive can mean earning less than you deserve.

🔹 Recency Bias in Reviews: Highlight your contributions continuously to avoid being overlooked in performance reviews.

🔹 Visibility Matters: Share your successes. Communicate your progress and keep yourself top-of-mind.

🔹 Behind-the-Scenes in Promotions: Understand the process and position yourself strategically.

🔹 Explicit Communication: Have clear conversations with your manager about what it takes to get promoted and check in regularly.

Taking control of your career is not just beneficial—it's essential. Read my latest blog to learn more about proactive career management and how to navigate your path to success. 📖👇

#GetWOKEN #CareerGrowth #ProactiveCareer #ProfessionalDevelopment #CareerAdvancement #CareerAdvice

Why You Need to Take Your Career into Your Own Hands (and What Happens if You Don’t)

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Rachel Serwetz’ early professional experience was at Goldman Sachs in Operations and at Bridgewater Associates in HR. From there, she was trained as a coach at NYU and became a certified coach through the International Coach Federation. After this, she worked in HR Research at Aon Hewitt and attained her Technology MBA at NYU Stern. Throughout her career, she has helped hundreds of professionals with career exploration and for the past 4.5+ years she has been building her company, WOKEN, which is an online career exploration platform to coach professionals through the process of clarifying their ideal job and career path. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Binghamton University and has served as a Career Coach through the Flatiron School, Columbia University, WeWork, and Project Activate.

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