It’s the season for growth and new beginnings. So if you’re feeling stunted professionally, it’s time to plant seeds for a fresh start. Whether you’re ready for a promotion or seeking greener pastures, this career advice will help position you for advancement.
First of all, refresh your resume. It’s important to really understand where you’re at in your career and what you have to offer an employer. Get in the habit of updating your resume at least once a year. This will help you track your accomplishments and progress in your current position. It also allows you to move quickly when you find a job opportunity that excites you.
Second, develop a career plan. If you take the time to think about your long-term career goals now, it will save you a ton of time and energy down the road. Don’t just think about your next position; think about the position you want to have ten years from now. Then work your way backwards to build your plan. It’s okay to make changes, but having a plan will help you make sound career decisions and advance more efficiently.
Next, cultivate your skill set. Your skill set is a major factor in determining your value as an employee. If you want a new title or more money, your skill set will help justify it to an employer. To figure out what skills you should learn or enhance, do an online search for the kind of position you’re seeking. Compare the resulting job postings to your resume. What skills are commonly required or preferred by employers and which of those are you missing? Maybe you need to get certified in your field, take training classes in specific software, or even learn a new language. These are also great short-term goals to add to your career plan.
There’s no shortcut to the top; sometimes you just have to gain experience. Longevity is meaningful to prospective employers because it demonstrates your loyalty and focus. Staying the course isn’t exciting, but the important thing is to ask yourself, “Am I on track?” If not, then has your plan changed, or do you need to course correct? If you are on track, then how can you make the most of your time? Could you find a good mentor in your department? Does your company offer tuition reimbursement or training to help you develop your skills set? Are there opportunities in your position to travel?
Lastly, to get ahead, you’ve got to get networking. If you want to climb the ladder in your company, make sure you’re attending company events, try joining a committee, and get some face time with key managers. It will help immensely if they know who you are and have a good impression of you before your interview.
If you’re looking for a new position, networking should be a top priority. You want to meet people, find out if and why they like the companies they work for, and stay in touch to learn about potential opportunities. Attend a professional networking meeting, ask for informational interviews, volunteer at community events, or join a club or activity group. Remember people hire people they like, so be friendly, professional and open to making connections wherever you find yourself. You never know who could be the key to the next step in your career.