Seeking out career growth is often a key factor in job searches. That’s not a bad strategy, but changing jobs is not the only way to achieve success. Besides, you won’t always find a manager who will keep a watchful eye over your career. Never be content to leave your career development in the hands of others.
The best thing you can do for your career is to take charge. Your intentional actions, behaviors, and plans will drive your success. The way you do this is by making growth a priority and the best part? It’s not hard to do!
These 9 Actions Will Transform Your Career Today and Beyond
Understand Where You Want Your Path to Lead
The remarkable thing about success is that you get to define what that means to you. For some, it means getting promoted to the corner office. For others, it may be starting a business. You will always feel like you are treading water if you do not have a solid understanding of what you want to achieve. For now, don’t worry about what you want to do in the next ten years. We change. Life changes and goals change with it. Start with what you want to accomplish in the next two to three years. When you can think concretely about what you want to happen next, your actions become deliberate and your goals are easier to achieve.
Conduct a Personal Gap Analysis (Twice a Year)
You’ve thought about what you want to happen in the next two years and now it’s time to think about your plan to get there. Take out a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. On the right, write down where you want to be in three years – what title, duties, location, etc. On the far left, write down the details of where you are now. Thinking about your ideal job, what requirements or experience does this job require? Are there certain certifications, degrees, technical expertise, or skill-sets that are needed that you do not now have? If so, that is your gap – the distance between where you are and where you want to be. Now, how do you close that gap?
Use Micro Goals to Your Advantage (Weekly/Monthly)
Once you have defined your gap, set a few micro goals. Micro goals are long-term goals broken down into everyday mini-goals and milestones that lead you to your larger, overarching goal. Micro goals are precise and task-specific. While the gap may appear insurmountable at first glance, when you work weekly on closing it, it will be bridged before you know it.
While I recommend trying to read a book a month, I understand that time may be a luxury. Books are not the only way to keep you at the top of your game. Spending as little as 15-30 minutes a day reading online articles, helpful blogs, surveys, or the latest research keeps you in tune with your industry. Look for materials and writers who motivate and inspire you rather than something heavy that takes longer to digest. Continual learning spurs new ideas and perspectives that can shape your vital work decisions and contributions.
Ugh, networking. Love it or hate it, it is beneficial – and you can do this from the comfort of your desk. Checking in with contacts online only takes a few minutes and it is a way to solidity relationships with your connections. It also raises your personal visibility and if you are considering a change of jobs, you need the extra visibility. Just scroll past the junk (or better yet hide what you don’t want to see) and move on to what matters. Simple acts make your network feel valued.
Help Others Advance Their Career (Ongoing)
We all need help and support at various times in our career. If you see someone searching for a job, send their resume around to those you know. Cultivate relationships, add value, and help others on a regular basis. There may be a time when you need to ask for that returned favor if you find you are the one in need. Job searching is incredibly frustrating and can be daunting. We have almost unlimited resources when we band together. If someone is struggling, take a few minutes to help them out.
Do Something That Makes You Uncomfortable (Weekly)
You have heard that success lies just outside our comfort zone. To attain it you must step over that self-imposed boundary that is holding you back. If you continually do the same thing, you will always have the same result. Working on your career growth means putting yourself out there. Choose one small (or large, your choice) thing each week to do that you normally would not do. You will be amazed at what happens. Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable is one of the greatest confidence builders you can have.
Build a Personal Website and Keep it Fresh! (Ongoing)
It may sound like a large undertaking if you have never done it before, but today’s technology makes it easy. While some careers find it essential to have a personal online portfolio, in today’s digital age an online presence enhances your success. Having a personal and professional website is a powerful branding tool. Whether you are in a job search, developing a side hustle, freelancing, or want to position yourself as a thought leader in your field, a website will showcase your talents.
Bonus: If you like to write, what better place to have your musings than on your personal blog? But, careful. Professionality rules.
Master Soft Skills (Daily)
Certain skills like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cybersecurity, and Data Science are in demand. Know what else is in demand? Soft skills. Soft skills are those intangible and crucial abilities that fosters your ability to work and interact cohesively with your team. They include traits like leadership, listening, interpersonal skills, self-awareness, communication skills, and emotional intelligence. Practice enhancing your soft skills daily because you will have a hard time getting ahead if these are off-putting.
If you want to grow in your career, you need a growth mindset. When you cultivate this mindset and find ways to continually develop, it will eventually feel seamless and natural. While there is never a silver bullet for your career, this is as close as you will get.