Growing Your Career – Even During a Pandemic
If you are serious about growing your career, you can’t be complacent. Where you are today is a reflection of the education and skills that got you there. The question is, where do you want to be tomorrow? Or next year? Or five years from now? Because you won’t get there by coasting on what you already know.
The key to your future can be found in an ongoing commitment to learning, also known as professional training and development. By getting better at what you do and expanding the boundaries of what you understand, you become more desirable value proposition to your team, customers, and company. In fact, you become a bigger player in your entire chosen industry, which widens your world to new career opportunities as well.
Professional development is probably the easiest way to stay ahead of the curve in your chosen profession. The skills that you have today may not be so cutting-edge a few months, or if you are really lucky, then a few years down the line. You will have to constantly sharpen them. So, keep reading. Read about new developments, new happenings, and figure out how you can improve your skills to keep them up-to-date. Take online courses, attend seminars (even online via Zoom). No matter how well you do a job, there will be somebody who does it better or used to do it better or has a better understanding of it. Network with such people, talk to them, make them your friends and learn from them. It will help you be better at what you do best. Pro-tip – LinkedIn is a fantastic way to do this.
But what other practical steps can you take to ensure your career is heading upward as fast as you would like it to? Well firstly, ask for an evaluation. Yes, it’s a bold move, but asking your boss for an evaluation can give you some excellent insight on how to improve your career. While some of the critiques might sting, an evaluation can help you understand your supervisor’s point of view, give you a chance to communicate your current state of mind and create an action plan to improve your performance going forward.
If you’re currently not working or are self-employed, reach out to past colleagues for ideas on how you can improve your skills. Solicit some constructive criticism, why not and offer to do the same for a co-worker in exchange?
It may seem discouraging but make a long-term strategy. Creating a five-year plan can help you more easily see what steps you need to take to achieve your goals. For instance, if you’re hoping for a management position, plot out the trajectory you need to take in order to get there. It might include talking to your supervisor, taking a business course, a Certificate IV, or volunteering for additional responsibilities.
If you want to quit your job and start your own business, your five-year plan might include saving up money, obtaining financing, or finding a business partner. Dream big, target your destination and make sure you map out how you intend to get there. Here are some simple tips on how to make – and keep – a five-year plan:
- Brainstorm Your Goals. Write down what you want to have, where you want to be, and the goals you want to achieve in the next five years.
- Note What You Can Do Now. If your goal is to get a promotion at work, what can you do today to get started? Whether seeking out a mentor or speaking with your boss, you should formulate an idea for immediate action.
- Decide What to Do in the Next Year. Not all of your goals can be achieved instantly, so plan for the future. Putting polish on your resume, certification in a new skill, saving up to start a business, or setting a goal to begin a job hunt are things you may be able to do over the course of the next year.
- Reward Milestones. A five-year plan can give you the feeling that your goals are pretty far off. Set regular milestones along the way and reward yourself when you meet them.
- Have Regular Status Meetings with Yourself. Evaluate your five-year plan regularly to see what’s working and what isn’t. You may need to adjust for contingencies along the way, such as a new job offer or a potential job loss. Don’t let a change in trajectory throw you completely off-course. Instead, reconfigure and set yourself on a new path to achieving your goals.
Ultimately, there are no shortcuts. You can keep doing what you’re doing and hope you’ll be noticed and rewarded. Somebody was wise enough to say that there are really no shortcuts to success and he couldn’t have got any closer to the truth than this. In order to be successful, you put in your best, put in all the effort you can as wholeheartedly as you can and focus on it. You can do as much as you can to turn the probabilities and odds in your favour. But in the end, there will still be no shortcuts. Accept it. Shortcuts are often long cuts disguising themselves to become more tempting to takers.