Are you taking advantage of today to achieve your career goals for tomorrow? Many don’t realize they have access to a host of simple yet valuable resources to help advance their career right now.
If you aspire to career growth, you need a plan. Where you are today is a reflection of the effort and purpose you’ve had in the past. The question is, how will you achieve even greater growth going forward? Here are 10 strategies to help you take your career to the next level.
1. Find Your Purpose
This doesn't just mean your job title; it's more about what you’re meant to accomplish. What led you to your job or field in the first place? Look into yourself and your skills and connect that to your job title so you can compare and contrast until you find that deeper purpose behind what makes you so good at what you do. Once you’ve put a name to it, seek the opportunities everyday that connect with and fulfill that purpose.
2. Surround Yourself With a Community That Helps You Thrive
While a strong work community is beneficial to helping any business thrive, it's also important to surround yourself with individuals outside your work community who can help you grow. For example, you may be a successful manager at a marketing firm but also have an incredible friendship with an English teacher who helps you see the world from a new lens and develop new ideas to pitch and implement at work. By surrounding yourself with others who are not just like you or do the same work, you’ll find more opportunities to learn and grow.
By surrounding yourself with others who are not just like you or do the same work, you’ll find more opportunities to learn and grow.
3. Understand Your Position Requirements
Once you recognize your own position's requirements and are ready to exceed them, start getting to know how your company’s organized and all the different kinds of positions available. Once you understand the structure and different types of jobs offered, you may discover more advancement opportunities and how to obtain them if they open up.
4. Don’t Waste Time Or Resources
This may seem obvious, but it's important to stay on task when working. If you’re seen slacking off or wasting time, others may take that to mean you don't value your position at your company or that you may not even have enough to do. It’s also important to avoid wasting your company's resources, as wasting supplies may mean that you don’t value the company or its resources.
5. Challenge Yourself
Set goals, both personal and job related, that are challenging to achieve but will give you a feeling of pride when you do. Make a list of books related to your position that you want to finish by the end of the year; start listening to a podcast that talks about better time management; find something that will enrich you and your work and challenge yourself to be dedicated and committed to it. Regardless of what you do, there will always be opportunities to carry personal growth over into your position and success at work.
Find something that will enrich you and your work and challenge yourself to be dedicated and committed to it.
6. Schedule Informational Interviews
The next best thing to getting an interview with a leader you admire is inviting them out for coffee. Most people love to share about their experience and expertise. Find a mutual connection on LinkedIn or Facebook and ask to be introduced. Then ask if you can treat your aspirant to coffee or lunch — no strings attached.
7. Find a Mentor
Perhaps your informational interview over coffee turns into an actual interview or perhaps that friend of a friend has your dream job. Ask if they’d like to serve as your mentor. Agree on what exactly that means: How often will you meet? Will you have questions prepared for them? A meetup once every two months or so is a good target — the experience shouldn’t add extra stress to you or your mentor.
8. Work Outside Your Job Title
Find opportunities to volunteer or lead on a project that aligns with your passions. You’ll be able to showcase your skills while learning more through the process to benefit your growth. There’s value in being a specialist, but accruing the knowledge to be able to speak into many different aspects of your organization will give you clout and comfort in meetings and conversations with colleagues.
9. Don’t Do Anything Until You’ve Set Expectations
Aligned expectations are key to success. When they aren’t defined, how can you know if you’re living up to them? Sit down with your boss and simply ask, “What are your expectations of my role?” You’ll gain clarity while also impressing your supervisor with your initiative and foresight. Use those expectations as a framework for how you work; this will give you a point on the horizon to work toward and benchmarks toward success.
Aligned expectations are key to success. Sit down with your boss and simply ask, “What are your expectations of my role?”
10. Exceed Your Expectations
Once you have those expectations set, think of practical ways you can go above and beyond. Prominent blogger and author of the book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, Michael Hyatt, suggests this exercise: “List your boss’s (or client’s) expectations in one column of a sheet of paper or on a spreadsheet. Now, in another column, list what you could do to exceed those expectations. How can you make [their] jaw drop or at least make [them] smile with delight? Use your creativity to create a wow experience.”
And the extra key to great success …
BONUS: Adopt an Ongoing Commitment to Learning
Whether you’re following industry blogs, learning from mentors, or seeking more formal education, you should always be open and excited to learn. The most successful people in this world are those who approach life with humility, and that means knowing there’s always more to know.
- When you have the humility to seek wise counsel.
- And set expectations you intend to exceed.
- Your organization, your community, and you will succeed.
You’ve already worked really hard to get where you are.
Turn your hard-earned college credits into a bachelor’s degree at Point Loma Nazarene University. Check out PLNU’s Adult Degree Completion Programs for more information, or connect with a counselor today.