Landing your first job is a big deal. It can present a multitude of opportunities, providing you with invaluable skill-building experience as you learn and grow. And while your first job is likely a stepping stone, it is important to gain all you can along the way.
You also need to understand what a pivotal time in your life this is. It is a time of assuming new responsibilities and adapting to a different lifestyle. It is also a humbling time; one that isn’t always going to be pleasant.
There might be times you doubt yourself, lack confidence in your abilities or struggle to work alongside others. Building your career will take drive, focus and resilience. And no matter what your career aspirations are, there is a lot to be gained from each experience you have.
Since a little food for thought is always helpful, here are some career-building tips to keep in mind as you either begin or continue along on your journey.
1. Determine What You Are Passionate About
One of the biggest steps in building your career is getting started. While this might seem like a no-brainer, it is how and where your journey begins that are the most important parts.
Take time to think about what it is you want for yourself. What do you love to do? What can you picture yourself doing? Remind yourself often that striking a balance is possible. It is possible to love what you do and turn it into a career.
Work doesn’t have to be something you trudge through, counting down the minutes until the day is over. For instance, maybe you’ve always wanted to travel domestically but never had the chance to. And in addition to that, maybe you have a passion for helping people, for being part of the big picture.
Maybe the thought of sitting behind a desk for eight hours a day is your worst nightmare and being on the go is ingrained in your being. Why not research your options for trucking jobs?
Spend time making a list of careers you can envision yourself thriving in for years to come. Think about sustainability, job security and most importantly if it is something you want to do. Hold on to those thoughts as you continue on your journey because they’ll be your guiding light along the way.
2. Go for It
Once you know what you’d like to do, your next step is making it a reality. Fortunately, you don’t have to do this alone. There are so many resources available to you. Networking, job shadowing and apprenticeships are all solid ways to get your foot in the door.
No matter what you do, give whatever you’re doing your all. This is a surefire way to not only help your chances of success but also gauge each situation in the best possible way. You’ll get a better feel for the reality of the job when you are all in.
Remember that it is also ok to have a change of heart but try to hold on before you do. There will always be bumps in the road, setbacks, or times of doubt. Stay the course and don’t give up unless there’s a very good reason you should.
3. Step Back and Reflect Often
No matter where you are on your career path, always set aside the time to pause and reflect. However, doing so as objectively as possible is a must.
Yes, it can be hard to be objective when you are dealing with something as personal as your career, but you must try. Because life can be so busy and the days pass by quickly, it is not uncommon to go too long in between points of reflection.
Try scheduling this for yourself, whether it’s once a month or every other month. Set aside the time to look at the big picture of where you are in your career. Focus on milestones reached and overall progress made. Paying attention to how you are feeling personally is also a must.
Are you feeling fulfilled? Is what you are doing working for you? Can you envision yourself doing the same thing in five years, and if not… What are you going to do about it today? Write everything down.
Talk with your boss or supervisor to air any concerns and ask questions you might have. Try to identify areas you might be lacking and see what you can do to improve. Remember, building a career is not a one-time thing. It needs steady attention, adjustments and enrichments along the way.
4. Update Your Resume Regularly
Your resume is something that’s not only for potential employers but it is also something important for you to have as well.
It is a place to record your experience, to present your skills and accomplishments in their best light. It is your history and should be treated with respect. Fortunately, there are many resources to help with creating a perfectly written and formatted document.
In general, updating your resume annually is a good practice unless you are actively job searching or switching jobs, but doing so more often is also a good idea. Additionally, having a good online presence and reputation is extremely important. Be selective with what you post.
5. Keep Learning and Growing
It has been said that there are always opportunities to learn and grow, whether it is professionally or personally. And it is true.
No matter what point you are at in your career journey, committing to learning and growth is a must. This could be through classes, gaining certifications, exploring other areas within your field, or taking on additional responsibilities. The goal here is to never feel stagnant in your career; to always find a way to level up.
This doesn’t mean it is a bad thing to be happy and content with where you are and what you are doing. What it does mean is that challenging yourself, even if it is something small, is essential to keeping your momentum going and keeping your mind sharp.
6. Pay Attention to the Company You Keep
When it comes to your circle, whether it is your family, friends, or colleagues, you are undoubtedly surrounded by many different personalities.
While diversity is great, it is also important to pay attention to how your connections impact you overall. Forming closer connections with like-minded people is always a good thing, but when it comes to your career, it is a must. Why? Because positivity, drive and ambition are contagious.
Having connections who lift you up and push you forward will be a big part of finding success in your career. This is also a good time to think about your connections and identify any relationships that aren’t serving you well.
Understanding what to look for is helpful here, especially when it comes to toxic relationships. They can have a detrimental impact on every aspect of your life, so giving this sometimes is important.
7. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
One of the most challenging parts of building a career is knowing when to push yourself to go further. This is usually because it can be intimidating to leave what is comfortable and familiar for uncharted territory.
But if you don’t ever take the leap, how will you know what else is out there? How will you know what else is available to you if you’re willing to take the risk? You won’t. However, doing this thoughtfully is a must.
Making informed decisions and preparing yourself for any type of big change needs to be a priority. The good news is that if you are always putting your all into what you do, making smart choices and focusing on growth, chances are you are probably closer to leaping than you might realize.
8. Be Realistic About Career-building
In your quest to build your career, there is one thing you need to look out for burnout. While working hard, staying focused and dedicated to your job will be the fabric of your success, and so will staying true to yourself.
You can’t build and reap the benefits of a successful career if you are miserable, tired, or unfulfilled. Striking a balance between everything going on in your life needs to be a priority and while this might seem simple, it is not always going to be.
Learning to prioritize, set boundaries and follow-through will help you to navigate as you build your career. Fine-tuning your communication, time management and interpersonal skills will go a long way and will get better in time.
However, there will be times when you make mistakes; times when you fall flat. These are the times you need to remind yourself that you are only human, that these things are part of the process. Not only will all these behaviours pay off in the short term, but they’ll also prove to be very beneficial for the long term as well. Growing your career is more than just working hard day in and day out.
Spending time looking at the big picture, whether it is your relationships, confidence level, or habits and routines will be a huge part of how far you’ll go.
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Paisley Hansen is a mother of three and a small business owner. She spends her time caring for her children and taking her business to the next level. When she’s not busy working or taking care of her kids, you can find her at the gym or curl up with a good book.