You are always your best career manager. This simple and timeless adage continues to ring true. Yet, many junior leaders are unfamiliar with the tools designed to manage their careers. This is partially due to a lack of experience and awareness of the intricacies of career management. The Army is cognizant of this shortcoming and is continuously devising new ways to assist leaders with planning and managing their careers. Junior leaders can consult useful resources, including Department of the Army (DA) publications, branch proponency offices, Human Resource Command (HRC) career managers, a Soldier’s chain of command, and senior mentors.
Junior leaders seeking to manage their careers can leverage the Army’s professional development guides for commissioned officers and noncommissioned officers DA Pamphlets 600-3 and 600-25, respectively. These publications provide foundational information to support active career management. Specifically, they describe the pathway for the education, certification, operational experience, broadening opportunities, and timelines for each branch or career management field. Additionally, each branch and career management field have career pathway maps that outline key milestones, positions, and opportunities. The career maps provide a sequential timeline in a Soldier’s career to include professional military education, critical assignments, and self-development opportunities at each grade. Graphic one is an example career map for active-duty logistics officers.
Through their proponent offices, the sustainment branch commandants are responsible for the annual revisions of DA Pamphlets 600-3 and 600-25, ensuring each is current and includes updates to Army policy alignment of career maps, developmental initiatives, and requirements for each grade. Senior leaders should use these publications to guide subordinates’ developmental, counseling, and individual development plans. Soldiers should also proactively monitor updates to ensure familiarity with the latest career pathways, updates, and opportunities.
Junior officer leaders can now leverage an additional career management resource, the HRC Career Managers’ Assignment Interactive Module 2.0 (AIM 2). Every Soldier has an assigned HRC career manager who provides individual career assistance, including assignment management. Career managers interact directly with Soldiers as they progress through their careers and provide specific recommendations on future assignments. AIM 2 is HRC’s recent groundbreaking tool in career management, which was implemented a few years ago for Army active-duty officers and warrant officers to preference their next assignment. AIM 2 provides greater transparency for leaders moving to their next assignment and units looking to recruit specific talents. AIM 2 also provides an interactive environment for junior leaders and organizations to engage and determine talent fit. Leaders get the most out of the AIM 2 process by actively participating during their movement cycle. The individual completes the AIM 2 resume adjacent to the Soldier record brief during this time. At this point in the process, the individual will preference as many positions as possible and subsequently interview with units with requisitions in the marketplace. In the future, the Army will integrate all active-duty NCOs into the AIM 2 marketplace.
Unit leaders and mentors also serve an important role in the career management of junior leaders. Due to their proximity to the junior leader, leaders have unique insights into performance, talent, and potential. Unit leaders can provide informed career development advice to support the junior leader’s continuous improvement and advocate for career opportunities on behalf of the Soldier. Mentors can also help junior leaders navigate their career paths. Every junior leader has access to senior mentors who can provide guidance, advice, feedback, and support to their mentee throughout their career. A mentor does not have to be in a Soldier’s direct supervisory role, and often it is best if they are not. This allows the Soldier to gain a separate assessment and point of view beyond the perspectives of their immediate chain of command/unit leadership.
What is next for Army Career Management? The Army Talent Management Task Force, partnering with the Logistics Proponency Branch, is developing a groundbreaking tool to help officers and leaders to make better career and talent management decisions. The Career Mapping and Succession Planning Tool (CM/SP-T) is an automated capability that allows Soldiers to take ownership over their career development and displays best-fit positions and career potential. The CM/SP-T aligns a Soldier’s individual knowledge, skills, behaviors (KSBs), preferences, and experiences against the requirements of each position in the selected pathway. Following the development of a personal profile, the CM/SP-T assists officers by allowing them to use their career assessment feedback to understand their strengths and growth opportunities. The assessments also help identify opportunities that align with the individual’s career goals and determine the individual’s fit for the assignment. Over the next few months, selected Logistics Captains Career Course students will begin to navigate the CM/SP-T pilot competency and preference surveys, engage in focus groups, and provide feedback to the Army Talent Management Task Force regarding the utility of the CM/SP-T and recommend improvements before scaling to other branches and functional areas.
Ultimately, junior leaders must manage their own careers to achieve their professional goals. Pursuing life-long learning activities to develop KSBs through civilian education, military education, and professional reading lists offer distinct opportunities for self-development. For example, junior leaders may leverage CASCOM’s recently published 2022 Reading List that promotes professional discussion on leadership, sustainment, and innovation. Managing one’s career supports not only career advancement but also career agility. To view the reading list, go to https://cascom.army.mil/About/CGRL/index.html.
There are numerous available resources to assist a Soldier in taking an active role in managing their own career. Leaders should take advantage of the available resources to make the best career decisions.
Branch and Career Management Field Specific Chapters of DA Pamphlet 600-3 and 600-25 can be found at:
Maj. Gen. Mark T. Simerly serves as the commanding general of the Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, Virginia. He previously served as the commander of the 19th Expeditionary Support Command. He was commissioned as a lieutenant of Air Defense Artillery and awarded a Bachelor of Arts Degree as a Distinguished Military Graduate from the University of Richmond. He holds a Master of Science in National Resource Strategy from the National Defense University and a Master of Military Arts and Sciences Degree from the Army Command and General Staff College.
Lt. Col. John Mitchel is the Logistics Branch Proponency chief at CASCOM. He recently commanded the Army Field Support Battalion - Drum. His previous assignments include duty with the 4th Infantry Division, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, and the 10th Mountain Division. Mitchel has earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, and a master’s degree from the University of Texas, El Paso. He also completed the U.S. Army High Performance Leader Development Program at the Center for Creative Leadership, Greensboro, North Carolina.
This article was published in the Winter 2022 issue of Army Sustainment.