Here is a typical conversation I have with professionals, both technical and nontechnical: “Within the next year, I’m looking to take the next step in my career, whether that is a promotion with my current company or taking on a larger role with another company.”

Me: “OK, so what are you doing now to prepare for that?”

Professional: Silence….”Well, I don’t want to do anything before I’m ready.”

Me: “What does that mean exactly?”

Professional: Silence….”I guess it means I don’t want a job offer before I’m ready for the job offer.”

Now, I have written about timing before when it comes to our careers. And in my opinion, when people are talking about timing, they usually mean “control.” They don’t want to feel out of control, and things happening when they aren’t ready for them makes them feel out of control. (Because let’s face it, in today’s job market, career advancement is anything but quick, so worrying about things happening too fast is not in line with the market.)

But the bottom line is that opportunities rarely come at the right time.

So if control really is at the heart of our concern, what we should really be focused on instead is “strategy.” In other words, if you want to feel less out of control in your effort to get that promotion or make that career advancement to the next step it’s strategy that should be your main priority (along with some flexibility).

Now, I understand. You have reasons for why you don’t want something to happen until next year or 6 months from now. Fine. Then that becomes part of your strategy. But the last thing you want to do is do nothing.

Build your strategy around your timing, but have a strategy!

And make it more than “well, 3 months before I want the new job, I’ll get my resume together.”

One of the great things about today’s job market is that there are so many tools for professionals to use, especially when they are in “passive” mode. And the more you do in this mode, the easier it will be when you transition to “active” mode. In our “Road to Promotion” series, as well as in several other posts, we have written pretty extensively on things you can be doing now. Here are some articles to check out:

Whether it’s internal promotion time or career advancement through an external search, understand that in today’s market, the best control you can give yourself is a strategy backed by action steps. We are not in a market that is just waiting for you…like it or not, we have to be thinking ahead and taking steps to move in that direction most likely sooner than we may want to.