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There is no career fairy…

November 17, 2011

By: Steve Cairns, GEICO Management Development

“Too many workers are waiting for the equivalent of the ‘Career Fairy’ to come down and appoint them a divine mentor who can look out for their interests.” –Joe Watson, CEO, Without Excuses

The reality is that everyone has some control of their professional future, but (unfortunately) Mr. Watson’s quote describes many people’s view of their career development. Many of us are looking for the “Career Fairy” to magically propel us into success instead of taking the initiative to look around us and discover how we might move our own careers forward, toward our ultimate goal … whatever that may be.

Here is what some successful GEICO leaders had to say about career development:

“Taking ownership of your performance and education is the first step to managing your career and improving your eligibility for opportunities that arise.  It is also important to understand the opportunities that are available and how they fit into your skill set.”–Assistant Vice President of Underwriting – Virginia Beach

“The first question I ask people to consider is not so much ‘what’s the next job you want’ as it is ‘what’s the job you want to be in when you retire?’ What’s the last job you want?  Once associates can identify their goal, I encourage them to plan their career keeping the last job in mind.  That way, they will consider positions that aren’t necessarily the next step up, but positions that will build their background so they are a better candidate for the last job, not just the next job.“–Assistant Vice President of Claims – Woodbury

So, if you want to move beyond having a “job” and start developing a career, look around you for opportunities that can help you move forward. It takes some initiative on your part but the long-term benefits are undeniable. Here is a “Great 8” list for career development from one of our Regional Vice Presidents:

  1. Do your job to the best of your ability.
  2. Be a team player. Get along with and treat everyone with respect. Including your bosses, your peers and your subordinates.
  3. Handle disappointments professionally.  Life is not always fair.  It is how you handle your disappointment that shows your character. If you don’t get an expected promotion don’t pout.  Try harder.
  4. If you don’t get a job, ask for feedback from the interviewer as to what you can do to prepare for the next opportunity.
  5. Be flexible. You might have to relocate or move into a different field. Sometimes opportunity does not come to you.  You have to go to the opportunity.
  6. Consider a lateral move as it may lead to a promotion later.
  7. Keep doing good things and good things will eventually happen.
  8. Sometimes you also need to be a little lucky.

It’s your career … it’s up to you to take lead in setting yourself up for success and there are plenty of opportunities.  After all, I don’t think the “career fairy” is showing up any time soon!

Interested in learning more about careers at GEICO?  Visit or connect with our Delta Sigma Pi liaison and GEICO national college recruiter, Jill Stover, on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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