To everything there is a season: Take the right steps at every stage of your career

Vienna, Austria – If you want to look back at a long and successful professional life in your old age, you should take the right steps now.

In professional life, everything has its season. A time to sow, a time to grow, a time to reap. Farmers that sow in August cannot reap in autumn.

In each phase of life, important steps must be taken, the effects of which will not be seen for five or ten years. These major career decisions include education, acquiring responsibilities and developing a professional network. Networking is always important, and learning is a lifelong process, but certain points in one’s career development are crucial. If you miss a particular phase at a certain time, you can never catch up again.

20-30: Developing education and expertise

At this stage, your main focus is on completing formal education and acquiring specialised knowledge in a specific area. At the beginning of your career, formal education does not seem to play a significant role. Employees with a basic education, with matriculation and even with a Bachelor’s degree all earn similar salaries. In many cases, non-academics can earn more than academics, and there is a great deal of temptation to take a short-term higher salary instead of developing long-term career opportunities. The major salary differences start to become apparent in the late twenties.

30-40: Deciding between a managerial or an expert career

At this stage, you must make a choice about whether or not you want to assume leadership. Many employees in this age group will decide whether they are better suited to an expert career or a management career. If you are over 40 years old and have not yet taken a leadership position, you will probably not have the chance to do so.

40-50: Strengthening the professional network

At this stage, it is essential to strengthen your professional network within and outside the company. Gaining additional training and expertise will not be as important as developing excellent relationships with top managers, customers, colleagues, employees, and business partners who will help you to create new career perspectives. If you are over 50 and cannot find a well-paid managerial job, this will mostly be because you have failed to build up a strong network.

50+: Building a network among the younger generation

Finally, at this stage you must build up your network among the next generation, as well as your existing contacts. Many experienced freelancers, especially lawyers and tax consultants, suffer professionally when the majority of their good customers and business partners retire or die. However, to build and maintain good network takes many years, and can’t be summoned at the push of a button.

In conclusion, professional success is not a lottery. A good career requires targeted, long-term commitment.

Success today comes from the smart decisions you made five to ten years ago.

Conrad Pramböck is the Head of Compensation Consulting at Pedersen & Partners. Based in Vienna, Austria, he is responsible for consulting companies on all aspects of compensation, including providing companies with up-to-date market information on salary ranges and design of bonus systems across all industries and geographies. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Pramböck held several senior positions in international consultancy firms. He started his career with a German Consultancy firm working in management consulting and later in the Compensation Consulting business unit based in Austria. For the following seven years he worked with one of the top Austrian Executive Search firms as the Head of Compensation Consulting. He was responsible for all international compensation consulting activities and developed and maintained an international compensation database in 40 countries.

Pedersen & Partners is a leading international Executive Search firm. We operate 56 wholly owned offices in 52 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia & the Americas. Our values Trust, Relationship and Professionalism apply to our interaction with clients as well as executives. More information about Pedersen & Partners is available at

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