July 29, 2013

Plan your Career in 5 Steps

Bright future success concept 3d illustrationThere once was a time when a career path was basically spread out in front of every worker from the day he/she started working. This path was largely out of the person’s control and didn’t have a lot to do with what the worker wanted out of his/her career, but more to do with what the company wanted out of the individual’s career. Now more than ever, people are given responsibility and control over their careers. While this is fantastic in that it opens a world of advancement and opportunity to employees, it can also be a little overwhelming in that people now have to rely much more on themselves to succeed.

If you are attempting to build your career, whether one that you have just started, or one that you have been in for several years, these career management tips can help you to continue on the path to success:

1. Always Keep Learning

No one, not even the absolute upper crust of a company hierarchy, knows everything there is to know about business or a particular industry. There is always room to continue learning and growing. Continued education means building your skills and deepening your understanding of the field so that you can progress toward higher levels.

Perhaps you can take a professional development class, receive a certification or even go back to school by taking night, weekend  and/or online courses. Any one (or combination) of these are sure to help you learn new information that can be applied to your career field.

2. Be Open to Ideas

You are going to learn a lot even if you aren’t in a formal training session. By opening yourself to what your boss, superiors, coworkers and even customers have to say, you can obtain tremendous insight into the way that your position is evolving and what you can do to ensure that you are moving in the right direction.

Pay attention during staff and/or company meetings and listen to everyone’s ideas. Adhere to any feedback from your manager (especially around evaluation times) or even directly approach your manager and ask him/her how you can improve in your role. People who disregard constructive criticism and believe they know it all only harm themselves in  the long run. The people you work with may have a wealth of helpful information and ideas that could positively affect how you perform on the job, but you must be willing to have an open mind and receive the help.

3. Start Where you Are

You may have your “eyes on the prize,” but if you don’t pay attention to where you are right now, you are never going to get to the next place along your path. By fulfilling the tasks and responsibilities of your current career to the absolute best of your abilities, you are setting yourself up for a better career. Don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions about how you can do more and do better in your current position—make yourself valuable and they will be willing to work with you as you progress.

4. Build your Network

We all know the power of employee referrals. Building your personal and professional network is a powerful and effective way to find and obtain a new, desirable position. First look to your immediate family and friends and then extend your search to professional connections. Word of mouth is great, but don’t forget to utilize those on your social networks for possible help.

5. Identify the Next Point on your Timeline

Think of your career as a timeline. If someone were to map it out, what would you want mentioned along the way? Figure out what that next point should be, and clearly define it. It is next to impossible to reach a goal that you haven’t really made, and it is almost impossible to make a goal about something that you don’t know you want. By clearly identifying and defining the job that you want after your current one, you will be better able to fulfill the steps it will take to achieve that goal.

Read more in Career Advice

Marks’ stories have also been published in a variety of newspaper, magazine and online formats including The Arizona Republic, The Daily Herald, Arizona Foothills Magazine and various classroom magazines of Scholastic Inc. Service is her passion, writing is her platform and uplifting and inspiring the community is her purpose. Marks received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University.
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