If you are looking for a chance to excel in your career and grow both personally and professionally, then this is the time to do it. As time goes on, tech and life advancements are creating new and exciting job opportunities, and if you have the drive to look inside and grow as a person, then the sky is the limit.
Although many people are excited about the idea of growing within their organization or finding a dream job at a company that they have always admired, not everyone knows where to start.
What are the first steps to career growth? How can you separate yourself from the herd? You have questions, we have answers. Follow the ideas and tips below to find the meaningful career growth which you desire.
1. Reflect and Plan
The absolute first step of career growth is looking inside yourself to assess your current skills, where you can improve, and most importantly, to define your dream job so you know what you are working towards.
During self-reflection, think about what you are best at right now and what type of job would give you the most satisfaction and sense of fulfilment. Now that you know that, how far away are you from that dream? Is this a place that you can reach by growing within your own organization or will you need to start over somewhere fresh?
Once you have that figured out, you need to come up with a plan. If you want to grow within your current organization, speak to a manager and ask them what steps they recommend and go from there.
If your goal requires starting fresh, then you will need to set short and long-term goals that will eventually get you to your destination. That might include taking required classes or earning a particular certification.
Either way, write down every step of your plan and keep it with you. As you work through the steps, cross them off of the list. The feeling of accomplishment you get when completing each milestone will inspire you to go on to the next step.
2. Utilize Cross-Training and Internships
Once you have an idea in mind of where you want your career to go, it may be a good idea to experience the new position, even temporarily, through an internship, a volunteer position, or by cross-training at your current organization. For example, if you wish to be a data analyst, Excel training will prove to be useful in the future.
Any of these ideas are a great way to get your feet wet and see in real-time what your future career may look like. Not only will you get a chance to work the role and experience the day-to-day responsibilities, but you will also gain some skills along the way.
This opportunity is something that you can add to your resume. If you find that the job is not what you hoped it would be, you can end the position with less fanfare than if it was a full-time job.
You can find internships and volunteer work by perusing online job websites or by attending job fairs.
3. Go Back to School
Now that you have a taste of what your future position may entail, it may be necessary to learn the basics or brush up on the necessary skills by continuing your education. This doesn’t always mean going to a university but could instead be taking a few classes to brush up on your accounting skills at a local community college or taking instruction through online learning.
The most ambitious career goals may require a return to school to earn your Masters of Business Administration degree. When you go to school for an MBA, you learn every aspect of your field of business, and like during an internship, you will see real-life examples of common business scenarios with instructors that can teach you the best methods of dealing with them.
Obtaining this degree is a great way to not only excel to new career heights but also make more money while doing it. You will also meet like-minded professionals with who you may be able to network later in your career growth path.
If you are starting fresh on your trek for your desired career, then networking should be a big part of getting to the next step.
Finding people who work in or alongside the job you want provides several benefits. Not only will you have someone that can get you in the door when the time is right, but they can also provide details of how the job operates and what you will need to succeed.
There are several ways that you can add more like-minded individuals to your network. One of the easiest is going to social media websites like LinkedIn to find people within that field, and then introducing yourself and asking if you can have the opportunity to pick their brains.
You can even look within your current network to see if anyone there already knows someone that you can speak with.
In addition to online searching, you can also network by attending job fairs, checking out formal networking events, and joining professional associations in the field of your choice. Don’t be afraid to network. Everyone had to start from somewhere.
5. Interview Prep
After you have received the proper education and discovered a position that truly matches the goals you have set for yourself, you will want to reach out and grab it, but doing so will likely require an interview.
If you are serious about landing the dream job then you need to take a realistic look at your interview skills and determine if they need any work.
A great tip for performing well on your interview without getting stumped is to look online at common interview questions and look back at your experience to come up with an answer to all of them so you are ready for anything.
If you haven’t already, this is also a good time to update your resume. Add that internship and any cross-training experience and skills you have acquired.
Pair your resume with a cover letter but avoid sending the same canned message to every interviewer. Instead, cater your cover letter and resume to the specific company and position and express your eagerness to join. Remember, this is your dream career, the extra effort will make a world of difference.
6. Remember This Career Growth Tips Work for Freelancers Too
Many of the career growth tips discussed above are also very beneficial for those who work a less traditional freelance career.
You may not always have a boss that you can ask for help or internship opportunities, but the ideas of self-reflection, creating a plan, and continuing your education could be key to getting where you want to be as an independent contractor.
This is especially important when it comes to earning more money. Budgets and planning are incredibly important as a freelancer because you have a less stable work environment and you never know when there will be a dip in your work.
When it comes to earning more money and advancing in your career, use your current clients as a starting point. Do your best work and ask for referrals. Take the time to create a great portfolio of your best material that you can show those referrals and make it easy to find either with an online website or through freelancing platforms, such as Upwork and Elance, and always be working towards your next goal.
For those who want to see success in their professional life, this is the time to give it your all and see what you can accomplish. By following the steps and guidance discussed here for career growth, you will become a more well-rounded person, and when the dream job comes, you’ll be ready.
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Ainsley Lawrence is a writer who loves to talk about good health, balanced life, and better living through technology. She is frequently lost in a good book.