Dear Early-Career Professional
It's great if your company has lavished you with mentoring, coaching, and leadership development. But if they do, you are in the minority. It's a minority of companies that invest heavily in early-career development (outside of technical skills training). And those who do spend on this segment of the workforce often do it selectively.
Selectively? Yes, that usually means there is some "strategy" for identifying and spending on those who are seen to be "high potential". Why the quotation marks? Because the strategy is usually not data driven or systematic, and the identification of potential is often influenced as much by bias as by an objective appraisal of talent.
I don’t mean to malign management or HR. Frankly, in most organizations there simply are not the budgets, resources, and procedures to approach talent management in a better way. So, management and HR do the best they can while facing the headwinds of a long to-do list and critical near-term business imperatives.
You could become cynical: “This is unfair. I’m getting the short end of the stick! How can I ever get ahead? It’s all stacked against me.” But that’s not only cynical, it’s false. That’s giving up.
You could start looking for another job: “I’m going to find a place that appreciates me and will invest in my development. There’s got to be a better place to work than this!” Perhaps there is a better job or employer out there for you, but you’re still putting all your eggs in their basket.
A better option: “I’ll get my own coach, an expert whose only allegiance is to me. This coach will be a resource I can use even if I do change jobs. In fact, perhaps this independent coaching will better guide my decisions about career and changes. Perhaps I’ll be able to present my candidacy and evaluate new opportunities more thoughtfully with my longer-term goals in mind.”
There’s a big bold world out there, and it’s different than the world your parents grew up in. You’ll need to more proactively manage your career. You cannot rely on most employers to provide support for your longer-term development. You’ll need to take care of most of these needs yourself.
The good news: Becoming more proactive and taking more control over your own career development will get you noticed. It will allow you to overcome the inherent biases and systemic inadequacies that get in the way of early-career professionals. So, don’t resent your current state, acknowledge it and change it.
So Take Action
Whether you go to my firm for virtual coaching or another resource, I would encourage you to explore this option. It won’t cost you as much as you might think, and it will be one of the best investments you ever make in yourself, your long-term career, your life!
 False positives and false negatives abound. The first involves concluding on inadequate information that a person has great promise, when they may not – it also involves overlooking gaps (so-called “halo effect”). False negatives are even more problematic, because they involve judgments that rule people out based on inadequate information when the person/s may very well have significant potential which is simply not noticed. This can occur with greater frequency among those who are different (race, gender, nationality, culture, age, etc.).