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One of the most important questions that individuals will ask themselves when they enter the workforce is “How can I move my career forward?” It is an important question that if not taken seriously can lead to frustration, job-hoping, a lack of performance and a feeling like you are an eternal job hunt.
On the flip side, if you can grasp ways that will help your career progress, you will get that promotion, you will have the opportunity for more economic stability and job security, as well as the ultimate goal, reaching your full potential. So how does one go about helping to advance a career? Here some ways:
- Know where you want to go. Do not underestimate the importance and power of knowing where you want to go. In order for your career to develop, you must have a clear understanding of where it is you want to go. You need to be able to answer key questions, such as what positions make up the career path that will get me to where I want to go? and what kind of time lines do I need to keep in mind for promotions? One of the signs of a great leader is knowing where you need to go, what you need to do to get there and when you need to make it happen.
- Develop the right skills. As you define where you want to go, be sure to look at what skills are necessary for your next role. Then, find ways to develop those skills. Find others who have the skills and abilities that you want to develop and learn from them. This may come from asking questions, observing them in action or shadowing them. The key is to focus on developing the skills necessary.
- Educate yourself on education. It is vital that you know what are the education requirements to get you to where you want to go. Many organizations offer educational benefits. If it makes sense, use this great benefit. However, be careful not raise red flags. If you are wanting to use your educational benefits for an area of study that has nothing to do with your current job, questions will be asked. Be clear about your purpose in using this great benefit from your organization.
- Get to know the influencers and network with them. Your ability to find ways to build a strong relationship with your boss will help increase your opportunities for future career growth. That said, you need to be sure and find out who the influencers are, the decision-makers within the organizations and network with them. As you network with them strive to build relationships that allow them to see your potential. Learn from them as much as possible.
- Stay active and visible. Don’t get caught just going through the motions of your job. This can happen very easily, especially if you are just starting out and having to do the same thing over and over. Find ways to make it exciting and rewarding. Take every opportunity you can to showcase your skills and abilities by taking leadership roles when you can. One of the best ways to gain visibility is to succeed in the job you have currently.
At the end of the day, to get your career moving forward, you will have to make it happen. Actions truly speak louder than words. In a struggling economy, there are many qualified people looking for jobs who are willing to take a less-paying job or position so they can prove themselves. You need to be sure you are dialed in and focused on getting your career to where you want it to be so that you do not miss out on career growth opportunities.
Seth Saunders is currently branch president of the Pembroke Branch (Spanish) and president of the Pink Shoe Hero Foundation. Seth has been married 16 years to his amazing wife Amber and is the proud father of three wonderful sons.