Do you want to take your career to the next level? An upward move often requires action and ambition on your part, which means you need to develop professionally and show your company you’re ready to advance. Here are eight ways you can give your career a boost.
1) Define What “The Next Step” Means
The very idea of a career move means something different to everyone. In fact, your own definition of it will likely change many times over the course of your career. It’s important to clearly define your ambitions. Do you want to become more proficient in your current role? Is there another role you’d like to be promoted to? Do you want to move to a different department? Once you’ve defined what professional success means to you, you can start developing concrete goals to get there.
2) Network with Other Professionals in Your Industry
Often, the best way to learn is from those around you. Networking is a great way to create connections, promote long-term personal growth, and attain new knowledge and skills. Whether you’re attending an industry conference or just grabbing coffee with a company mentor, you’ll naturally learn more by spending time with others. Research conferences and workshops to attend, follow and engage with professionals you admire on social media, and utilize services like Meetup to find events with people who shares your interests and passions. Not only will you learn from these connections, but you may even have doors opened to new opportunities as well.
3) Go Above & Beyond
There’s nothing wrong with showing up at 9am, performing your daily duties, and punching out at 5pm. But if you’re looking for ways to advance your career, putting in an average performance might not get you there. Employers want to see ambition, so you’ll need to find ways to leave an impression. Offer to help out with extra projects, even if they’re a bit outside of your normal responsibilities. Volunteer to organize a team outing or lead a lunch-and-learn. Taking initiative shows passion, and you might develop new skills along the way.
4) Take the Lead on a Big Project
Sometimes, you have to move out of your comfort zone to take the next step in your career. Not only can taking ownership of a project help improve your leadership and organizational skills, but it will show your employer that you’re serious about your career and have the potential for additional responsibilities.
5) Seek Out Learning Opportunities
Look for new ways to soak up knowledge. Follow thought leaders in your field on social media. Read books, magazines, and online articles about topics that interest you. Join an online message board with professionals in your industry. Attend training programs or enroll in classes at your local college. If you’re unsure about what skills and knowledge you need to advance your career, ask your superiors. They were likely in your position at some point and can suggest workshops, seminars, conferences, and more.
6) Gather Feedback
You may think you know your strengths and weaknesses, but most people are incapable of observing themselves through a purely objective lens. Solicit feedback on your performance and potential from coworkers, supervisors, and mentors to learn what you do well and where you still have room to develop. If possible, allow these people to give feedback anonymously. Without fear of hurting your relationship, they’re more likely to give the honest answers you need to hear.
7) Find a Professional Mentor
Mentors can make a huge difference in your career trajectory. They serve as advocates on your behalf, help you develop skills and knowledge, and lend helpful advice when you’re not sure what to do next. Identify successful individuals that you look up to and have access to. Find a way to stay in contact with them regularly, such as a weekly lunch or periodic calls. Most importantly, select people you can be yourself with. You need to feel comfortable bringing your pain points and obstacles to them, and you also need to be open to receiving critical feedback. This person should be bold enough to hold you accountable to your goals.
8) Shadow a Coworker from Another Department
If your current role doesn’t have opportunities for advancement, maybe another role at your organization does. Spend time with people from other departments, even if it’s only for an hour or two. You can get a feel for their work and see why they’re passionate about it. If shadowing isn’t a possibility, share coffee or lunch with a coworker you trust and pick their brain about their role to see if it’d be a good fit.
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