There should always be an opportunity to sit down and reflect on your career and the progression you are making within your role. Perhaps you’re merely coasting along or finding yourself struggling to move up the career ladder within your company. It’s expected that many of us will change jobs every few years, with some finally finding the right company to work for until retirement and others working their way up through different employers. Here are a few things you can do to help improve your career.
Goals can help us keep on track, both in our personal and professional lives. Without goals, you don’t give yourself the best opportunity and chances of achieving those milestones that will help you move up in your career. Annual reviews within the workplace will only do so much and are usually organised by your employer. However, it doesn’t mean to say that you can’t set your own goals outside of this review. A year is too long, and you’ll often find various opportunities on a monthly basis, so set your goals regularly. Make sure they are achievable and will help you elevate your work and your currently day-to-day activities. Give yourself reasonable deadlines and review those goals that you might not have reached to find out what went wrong. Failure shouldn’t be seen as a negative thing, it should be embraced and something to learn from so that you don’t make the same mistakes twice.
When you step outside of your comfort zone, it can be extremely terrifying. You perhaps feel out of your depth and on a cliff edge where your body is urging you to step back. But it’s important we challenge ourselves because, without risks, there’s a slimmer chance of you finding those opportunities and doors that will open. Success is just outside of your comfort zone, and if you feel like you’re taking a leap of faith into the unknown, then it could lead to great success for you in your career. So, do something that scares you. Whether it’s tackling a new skill area or asking your boss for advice, each time you challenge yourself, you’ll become a stronger and more confident version of yourself.
Consider Further Education
Most of us will go through education when we’re young, up into perhaps colleague or university. A fraction of us will then go onto to do a post-graduate degree like a distance education MBA and then for our adult life, we don’t tend to revisit education. However, knowledge is power, and so we should be encouraging ourselves to learn something new every day. Could education or further training help you improve your career prospects? It’s always good to chat with someone, perhaps your peers or even research the skills and experience you might need to progress. You may find that in order to move forward, you need further education.
If that’s what’s required, then make sure you research the right qualifications that you need and of course, have the money required to fund your course and living costs while studying. Some courses and training will be possible to do alongside a full-time job, so you should always approach your employer about potentially part funding the training.
It’s All About Networking
Word of mouth and knowing someone within the industry is key for many industries. Whether you exude confidence or find it hard to speak to strangers, networking is one of the major things you can do to improve your chances of progressing in your career. The only way you can help yourself is by jumping in with both feet. Find local networking events, even if to begin with, it’s just meeting new people and chatting about anything other than your job. As someone who may struggle in these environments, it’s a good way of building up your confidence and approaching strangers. You should also take advantage of networking within your own organisation. Social events in the workplace can be a great opportunity to build relationships and a tip for networking with fellow colleagues is to keep the conversation varied. Don’t make it all about work, ask personal questions too so that your colleague doesn’t feel like they’re being used only for their knowledge.
Get A Mentor
This ties into networking, but everyone has to start somewhere. Very few have managed to just slide into a senior or high-level position unless they’re well in with someone higher up. A mentor can teach and guide you, just like one that you may have had in high school or university. We sometimes get lost, so it’s good to have someone who can offer suggestions and ways of getting out of a slump or stale point within your career. It might be your manager or someone else at work, or it could be a friend or professional acquaintance. Whoever it is, don’t be afraid of asking for support. No one can do everything instantly without receiving help from others before. Find someone who’s going to help motivate and drive you to where you want to ultimately be.
Learn More About Your Industry
Whatever industry you are in, there’s always something you can do to help improve your knowledge of your industry. The more you learn, the more of an expert you can be and that could also help you to create a niche for yourself. Spend time getting to know other people within your work that contributes towards the business in a different way to what you do. Ask questions and anything you don’t understand, make it a habit to find the answer. Industry events might be something your company encourages staff to go to and if that’s not the case, suggest it. These events are great to meet others within your industry and will hopefully give you the chance to collaborate and help grow the organisation.
Ask For Feedback And Constructive Criticism
Criticism is fantastic when it’s constructive, and feedback is important. Having those extra eyes and opinions on your work or on a project can be crucial for further success. So never turn your nose up at feedback or constructive criticism as it can only help build you both as a person and within your role. While self-assessment is useful, feedback from others is critical. However, you don’t always have to act on these opinions, you can pick and choose what you feel is right and wrong. You may also get opinions from those you may not value as much, and some can often come from jealousy or general negativity. It’s useful to be able to know what’s coming from good intentions and what’s not.
Spend Time On Your Mental Health
Work and no play makes even a workaholic, ill. Spending time on your mental health and wellbeing is important no matter who you are and what you do within your company. Self-care is something that has been encouraged more recently, and organisations are recognising the need for support and the right balance of work and life. Your wellbeing, if not quite as it should be, can affect your work and career prospects. So make time for yourself and those personally around you. You’ll need these moments and individuals to help you during those tough times. Invest your time in the things that matter because you only live once.
Be Proud Of Your Achievements
And finally, be proud of your achievements. Remember, failure isn’t a negative thing? Well, we can also sometimes forget to celebrate and praise ourselves for our achievements. Rewarding yourself for these achievements might be anything from booking yourself a holiday or treating yourself a coffee. If we recognise our achievements, we can move forward with a positive attitude which can make all the difference in motivating yourself to achieve more. Make a list of what you’ve been successful in recently and give yourself that moment to appreciate everything you’ve done. It’s easy to forget to do this, so make this a regular thing to do.
Save Your Work
Being proud of your achievements is one thing, but not enough of us curate our work so that we can show it off in the future. Whether you save your work in a folder or using a portfolio style, take pride in collecting all your projects and work so that you can show others who may help you in the future. Some great platforms that you can use are Dropbox, Google Drive and if you are a writer, then there are websites like Clippings that can be a great place to showcase your work.
Improving your career can only be done if you want to help yourself. Of course, others can help you work towards a promotion etc. but if you don’t believe in yourself or want to achieve more than you’re the only person standing in your way. So going forward, take note of these tips and implement them in your own life and work today. Who knows what improvements it will make for your career going forward.