Finding a new job or advancing at your current one can be a daunting experience for most. It’s not easy to get out of our comfort zones, but that’s what needs to be done in order to advance ourselves professionally.
If you are finding your current career unchallenging, or even downright boring, perhaps it’s time for you to reconsider your professional path. Moving your career forward, however, requires a proactive approach. Realizing that you are in fact in control is the first step. Taking control instead of procrastinating will propel your professional future.
Here are eight effective tips to get you started, make you more eligible to employers, and move your career forward.
1. Identify Your Skills and Goals
Before you can get where you are going, you need to determine where you are. The very first step to advancing your career, therefore, is analyzing your existing one. Identify where you currently are professionally and what unique skills or knowledge you bring to the table. Do not exaggerate your skills or underestimate them. An honest assessment will allow you to make realistic goals.
After you have figured out where you are, you will want to consider where you would like to be. What are you goals both short and long-term? It’s alright to dream big in the goal setting department as long as you remain realistic regarding what needs to be done to achieve those goals.
2. Take Necessary Steps
Once you have identified your professional goals, make a list of all the steps you need to take in order to accomplish those goals. What kind of training do you need? What particular skills? Will you need to go back to school? Pass an exam? Outline all of the requisite steps between where you are and where you want to go. This will give you your map.
Now you need to explore your options. Can you make these steps while employed at your current job, or do you need to look for another one? Maybe, you can remain employed at your current job, but change your title or role to be more in line with the direction you seek to go. Once you have accessed your resources, begin by taking the first step. Step by step, and you will be closer to your goal.
3. Talk To Your Boss
Let’s say you have deserved to get promoted in the company you are working for. Sometimes your professional achievements may go unnoticed, particularly in larger firms where management is more distanced from the workers. What you need to do is make your boss aware of your contributions, which can be done through an open conversation.
The formula is simple: if you want to advance at your current job, talk to your boss about your ideas, solutions, and goals that align with the company goals. Your boss is on the same team and will likely reward your enthusiasm by working with you to help you achieve your goals. Although not all bosses are that cooperative, you have to at least give it a try. Nothing will happen unless you do.
4. Consider Telecommuting
If you’re thinking about a new career, consider the option of working from home – telecommuting is becoming more and more of an opportunity. Commuting takes up valuable time and often results in stress and low energy, while working remotely provides more wok-home balance and increases job satisfaction.
Modern technological advancements have made telecommuting a highly viable option. Before deciding on it, however, ask yourself if it aligns with your goals. Telecommuting saves time and makes you more productive, but if your goals require more personal interactions, it may not be the ideal choice for you.
5. Keep Learning
It goes without saying that remaining up to date in your current field is a must for any professional development. If you wish to grow and improve, it’s imperative that you stay informed about industry news, trends, and advancements. Therefore, you should always equip yourself with relevant information.
Furthermore, if you’re looking for a career change, you need to develop your skillset to be consistent with where you want to go. Do not rule out personal development – each new skill widens your window of opportunities. Self-education is a priceless tool for career advancement, so learn that new language and take up that IT course that has caught your attention.
Don’t forget to keep your resume up-to-date. Any new skills acquired need to be properly presented.
6. Build a Network
The more people you know, the more opportunities you will have. Make yourself known – join professional organizations, attend conferences, volunteer, deliver speeches, write articles. In essence, don’t be afraid to expose yourself to others and distinguish yourself as an expert in your field. Social media can help you in this area, especially LinkedIn which is used almost exclusively for professional networking.
If you don’t already have a professional mentor, find one. A majority of promotions are influenced by professional mentorship. A mentor is also an invaluable resource in regards to information.
7. Improve Communication Skills
Communication is the essence of professional development. It’s critical for anyone wishing to move their career forward to develop their interpersonal skills. Those skills are the ones most noticeable to colleagues and outsiders alike.
Be friendly and outgoing, but always remember to remain professional and respectful. Actively listen to what others are communicating to you, not just verbally. This requires a great deal of consideration. Develop a reputation of being dependable and cooperative, and you will discover that you are the one others go to. Your boss will surely notice and respect this.
8. Stay Motivated
Nothing destroys dreams faster than being unmotivated. Keep track of your accomplishments, and look at them often to motivate yourself when you feel discouraged. This list can also help you during job interviews as a means of demonstrating your capabilities.
Continue focusing on your next step, and don’t give up even if things feel like they’re not moving fast enough. Take the time between opportunities to continue learning and growing. Work on yourself, and your career will catch up.
If you are ready to take your career to the next level, follow these eight effective steps. Identify where you are and where you want to be. Create a map on how to get there and start taking action. Remember to always keep learning and developing your skillsets. Communicate with your boss, colleagues, and network frequently. Most importantly, refuse to give up. Before you know it, you will be moving forward one step at a time.
Jill Phillips is a freelance writer from Buffalo, NY. She is an aspiring entrepreneur and tech enthusiast, who loves to share her insight on various topics. When she is not writing, Jill enjoys taking photos and hiking with her dog. Connect with Jill via Twitter @jillphlps