Don’t get caught in a rut with your career. Be ready to move ahead and better yourself at any given moment by following these seven tips on taking charge of your career. You never know when opportunity will knock, be prepared to answer the door with your best foot forward! Whether you want to stay where you are or move on to bigger and better opportunities, you need to be the one in charge of your career and the direction you take it.
1. Network – It is very important to find and build up a network with others in your profession or in the profession you may be trying to get into. Cultivating contacts that you can talk to, both online, such as LinkedIn, and in person is important. You never know when you will be thrown into a position of needing some help in finding a job or even finding someone who can advise you in your current position. Sharing ideas and keeping in contact with others who are in your field helps you have a way to get the word out for help you may need; whether it’s in your current position or in a sudden need to move elsewhere. Sharing ideas with like-minded people can help you see answers to problems you face in a whole different light; giving you perspectives that you may not have on your own. It also helps to keep your name and status out there; letting you take charge of your own career path.
2. Goals – Something you often hear from interviewers are the words “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” and while most people hate this question, the fact of the matter is that it’s important for you to have direction. You can’t have direction without some specific goals of where you want to be in the future. Whether you’re looking to move on to another job or stay where you are because you are happy; knowing your direction will help you pave the path ahead. Your goal should be to make changes, job moves, or position moves to get you to where you want to be in the future and better yourself. Thinking ahead and understanding where you want to be will help you decide how you are going to get there.
3. Resume – Keep your resume updated at all times. If you have a new project you finished that will be a shining star on your current resume, add it immediately. Not keeping your resume updated puts you in the position of possibly forgetting certain achievements and may present you with a time when you’re not ready to simply hand over a copy of your resume to a perspective employer that shows an interest in you. You never know when you’ll have the opportunity to present your resume for an amazing job. Having it ready and waiting is simply a matter of being prepared and will assure that you don’t forget particular projects or achievements you’ve made in your career that you may not think about 3 months from now should you suddenly need to update your resume.
4. Numbers–Being able to show measurable achievements and prove yourself with numbers to back up your skills is always a good thing. Keep information up to date as far as your statistics go; add such achievements as “Increased ROI by 8% with a project implementation that I was in charge of” or “Increased repeat customers by 25% by introducing a customer loyalty program within our sales and marketing division.” These numbers speak loudly; especially if they see you have incentive and take pride in increasing revenue for the company you work for. Showing them that you know how to save money or make money is always going to be a feather in your cap.
5. Direction – Know where you are and where you are going when it comes to your career. Don’t allow yourself to become stagnant with your skills. If you have direction, which should always be to better yourself, your skills, and your position career wise, you will demonstrate to both your current employer and any future employer you apply with that you are willing and able to better yourself. Know what you need to make your current job easier, more productive, and show that you have the incentive to continue implementing new ideas and skills to better yourself and your company.
6. Know Your Company – Knowing the company you work for as well as you possibly can, will always keep you a step ahead. Certain red flags can alert you to the fact that it may be time to start revving up your search for a new job. Understanding how the company you work for operates, how they promote within, and certain organizational decisions they make will alert you to the realistic ability for you to be able to move ahead in this company. Is the company you currently work for one that will leave you stagnant and pass you by for promotions or will you be justly rewarded for your skills and hard work? Will you have the ability to achieve your career goals here or is this a place that is a “rest stop” on the road of your future? Is this company going to be around in 15 years or are they teetering on the edge of disaster? Knowing your company, inside and out, will keep you in charge of where your career is headed.
7. Know What Jobs Are Out There – Even if you are happy in your current position and company, it is always good to know what’s out there. Keep your eye on positions that open within your company; always looking for a way to improve your current position and get you moving in the direction of your career goals. Network with others or search online to see what jobs are available out there. This can also keep you informed with particular skills that are being sought after in your area; giving you the opportunity to re-think your future and perhaps changing direction by taking courses for a much needed skill that seems to be open often and you would enjoy. It’s never too late to learn a skill or build on to the skills you have.