If you are want to change or advance your career, this is the perfect time to start. I have several recommendations to help you get started and keep moving forward.
Set a Goal and Make a Plan
Where do you want to be and how do you plan to get there? Sometimes it helps to work backward. Decide where you want to be, then break things down into smaller more manageable steps to get there. Reflect on your progress each week or month and make adjustments as necessary.
Become an Expert
Make yourself an expert in your current work. If you cannot master what you are doing now, you can’t expect people to believe you can be an expert at something new. This is more than being good. This means being irreplaceable – the person other people come to when they have a question.
Be Social, Be Sociable
Get to know people in your current work and the work you want to move toward. Learn their names and what they do. If you talk to them and show that you want to get to know them, they will want to get to know you too.
This networking can help you move into a new career or move up in your current career. People share information about job openings and other opportunities with those they talk to regularly.
Build Your Team
You team is the people you trust. You are all working together to make the organization better and to make yourselves better. Your team should also include at least one mentor. Do you admire someone you work with or someone’s work at a different organization? How can you learn from their success?
Mentors are often developed as informal relationships – gradually you learn from watching this person work and following their lead. However, you can be direct and ask someone to mentor you. Most people would be flattered that you admire their work and want to learn from them. You can arrange to meet over lunch or virtually during COVID to ask questions and discuss career issues. While the main benefit is to the mentee (you), mentors enjoy sharing their knowledge and gain new ideas from you.
Ask for Feedback
Get a feel for where you really stand. You need to know where you are to find a path to where you want to be. Ask colleagues and managers to be totally honest with you about your work. What are doing right and what could you improve on.
When you ask for feedback you need to be prepared to accept criticism and figure out how to make changes. So try not to react emotionally when people tell you there are things you can do better. Just because you can do a few things better doesn’t mean you’re not good at your job. No one is perfect. We can all make improvements. Focus on finding ways to improve your weak areas, while still taking pride in all the things you do right.
Talk to Your Supervisor About Your Goals
Your Supervisor needs to know that you are interested in moving up or changing your career. Often, supervisors can help steer you in the right direction. Your supervisor may even be willing to give you a few assignments or projects that can help you build the skills to reach your goals. A good supervisor wants employees to grow in their careers and to be challenged. Employees who are growing in their skills and careers tend to be happier and more productive, which is good for everyone.
Believe in Yourself
If you don’t believe in yourself, you cannot expect others to do so. Sometimes this can be difficult. However, if you are looking at moving forward in your career or changing careers, you must have a little bit of faith in your abilities. One helpful technique to improve your self-esteem is to think about three successes at the end of every day or week. What are the top three things you accomplished today or this week? This helps you focus on the positive instead of the challenges.
What you are interested in? Take steps to educate yourself and become an expert. This can mean many things.
- Go back to school. Talk with TRIO about going back to school.
- Read. You can read about people who have made it where you want to be, inspirational books or instructional books to give you the skills you need. See my booklist below for my recommendations.
- Take free online classes using library resources such as Lynda.com, Treehouse Coding & Design, Creativebug, Mango Language Learning or Learning Express Library.
Just remember, this is all about making yourself happier and more valuable. Have fun! Pursue what interests you. Start now and you might be pleasantly surprised with your progress at the end of the year.