Do you feel stuck in a job that you are writhing to leave a more fulfilling career? While you might be ready to focus on getting a new opportunity, here are 5 ways to move your career forward that you might be overlooking.
That brings me to my friend Sophie who called me one day. Sophie was livid. Her boss had just asked her to consider placing a project to organize an aspect of their office operation as one of her performance goals. Sophie was not having it since she felt it was not her responsibility, but that of the new person her boss had just hired for the position. Sophie had temporarily carried those duties, but there was no way she was about to create a flowchart to show her new coworker how to simplify that process. That was definitely above her pay grade, she fumed. So, when she called to get my opinion, rather my agreement to her point of view, I responded by asking her a few questions.
- Do you have the information?
- Do you know how to do it?
- Will it benefit your department?
- Are you concerned about things working more smoothly?
- What would it mean to you if you successfully achieved this goal?
By the time our conversation ended, Sophie had decided that completing the project would create a win-win situation. She started to recognize the value of stretching beyond one’s regular performance because she would:
- Have an additional accomplishment to add to her resume.
- Be recognized by her manager for taking the challenge and doing a great job.
- Add value to her department, helping to standardize a process and increase efficiency.
- Enjoy a positive feeling of accomplishment.
This scenario with Sophie highlights a savvy step to take to move your career forward. Here are some additional tips to keep your career moving in the right direction.
Learn new skills.
Learning new skills helps you to stand out. It also helps you to strengthen yourself and prepare for higher level of responsibility. Pay attention to what is going on around you. For example, if you are an administrative coordinator in the technology department, then what’s stopping you from expanding your technology skills? Using advanced technology skills may not be included in your job description, but that should not hold you back from expanding your knowledge in this area. Listen up and ask up. Most of your colleagues would be happy to share their knowledge and see you grow. While you are waiting for a more exciting opportunity, take advantage of the tools available to you to sharpen your skills. Also, if there is a course or certification that you will need to move on in your career, use this time to complete it. Learning new skills and completing certifications put you in a better position to make that career leap.
Build a Reputation
Build a reputation where people view you as someone to be trusted; someone who is dependable and a team player. How do you manifest these traits? First, be willing embrace new assignments. These give you a chance to stretch yourself and demonstrate your willingness and capability to grow and develop. Let’s refer back to Sophie’s example. She had an opportunity to make her mark and almost missed it. Although the task she was asked to complete appeared to be better suited to another role, she needed to embrace it to establish herself as a team player, dependable and impactful. Building a reputation sometimes means going the extra mile and operating outside of your comfort zone. When you are successful at doing this, you are also building a portfolio that can help to get you to the next career level you are seeking.
Make Strong Connections
While you are working on advancing your career take time to build connections. Your job is much more than the place where you put in 8 hours and get paid. Here is where you can establish valuable relationships and build a network that can support you on your career journey. Instead of keeping your aspirations to yourself, share them with colleagues who you trust and who you believe have an interest in your progress. What they know and who they know may just be the bridge you need to cross over to your next career opportunity. If others don’t know what you are interested in, if they don’t know what you’re hoping to achieve, then they won’t know how to support your career advancement efforts. I like this perspective from Lynze Wardle Leno in her career advice article: “Advice from someone who knows you (and your local job market) can be more beneficial than 50 Google searches”.
Leave Your Mark
Always work towards making an impact. Prepare to leave your mark. Even when you feel you are not in your dream job, you must practice giving your work your best effort. Avoid becoming sloppy. Instead, focus on staying at the top of your game. Remember my colleague Sophie? She had an opportunity to make an impact by completing the project that was outside the scope of her “normal duties”. Seek out opportunities to make an impact in your current position while aspiring for a more impactful role. Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities that allow you to showcase your competencies. Volunteer to serve on a committee that is helping to implement a new initiative in your area. Get involved in community projects. This can be an opportunity to show you can transfer skills to solve problems.
Create Your Plan to Move On
Your plan to move on will involve several steps. First you want to do an assessment of your skills and current interest to determine the line of work that you want to pursue. Determine if some changes to your current responsibilities will do the trick. If this is the case, discuss your interests with your supervisor to determine whether enhancements could be made to your current position. If you are seeking a new position, be sure your resume is up to date and matches the requirements of the position you want. You may be interested in scanning within your current company or outside. Here is where you take advantage of the connections you have made. Reach out to friends and colleagues to talk about your intentions. You stand to benefit from the wisdom and connections of those with whom you have built relationships. And if you have followed steps one to four you should be in a position where people in your network would be happy to support your aspirations as you continue with your job search activities.
A successful transition won’t happen on its own. Putting these five tips into action to move your career forward is a step in the right direction.