Career progression in academia and health care industries – specifically hospital administration seems to use a closed system for career movement. The majority of the people I have worked with over the last five years in these industries do not use social professional networks such as LinkedIn to advance their careers. Most of their career progression is facilitated through an established internal network. When that network works, it is great. Sometimes it is just not enough. Here’s why.

14684019_sWhile working with a university medical research professor, she shared how she gets ahead. Quite simply, the recruitment process is you are found or become known based on the work that you do in the academic world. Personal credibility plays a significant role in being approached for new positions. The people you know – colleagues, peers, collaborators, mentors – and the published research are the major ways universities find you.

The university career progression process reminds me of the old days in the Corporate World. How fast you moved up was dependent on who you knew inside your organization or because a savvy recruiter found you. The focus was inward.

So for most of her career, the climb up had been through opportunities that presented themselves – a passive approach in today’s world.

As we discuss an opportunity that initially was very appealing, it quickly turned into a hot mess because of a change in management. Always be forewarned that positions will be re-evaluated during turbulent times. The realization that this seemingly perfect next step is not so perfect after all. Sure there was disappointment – but the decision to not move forward was hers.

Shift Your Thinking – Shift Your Results

However, what may seem a disappointment turns into something more exciting. Once the professor had moved on from “this is the right position” to “if I free up my energy, something else will come along”, it was time to challenge her thinking.

A simple question: What happens if YOU decide where you want to go next and went after it vs. waiting for an opportunity to present itself to you?


The notion to intentionally plan her career brings curiosity. The realization that she, you or I can create what life we would like to lead – professionally and personally with a little encouragement and support is exciting. And a little scary.

I’ll bet you are facing a similar cross-road about waiting for something to happen vs. making something happen. Here’s a tip – Think about the same situation with a different lens. Explore how a different approach opens up the world of possibilities – perhaps leading to greater personal fulfillment and a better aligned career progression.