I have been having conversations on career and self-development lately, and it struck me that some of the discussions I am having with colleagues now were not had with me early on in my career. I then recognised that if I had known some of the things I know now, it would’ve saved me a lot of headaches and maybe gotten me further in my career. So I am sharing these tips with you and hopefully they are helpful in building your career.
1. Be proactive.
I picked up that being proactive in the workplace is key to getting the experience you want. You will not always be noticed, even if you work extra hard. You have to speak up, ask questions, ask for help and ask for work. People might not acknowledge you at first, but if you keep at it, eventually they will recognize that you want to learn and happy to take on more tasks.
2. Drive your own development
Flowing from being proactive, it is important to find out what you need to develop to get to where you want to be. This is a hard one because sometimes you rely on others to tell you where the gaps are. But in the world of the internet it’s easy to also find your own way around it. I like to lookup advertisements of roles online that I want to take on in the short and long term. I go through what is required to see what competencies and skills I need to have. I then work to fill those gaps.
Even with a manager who has an interest in your development, it’s up to you to decide when, at what pace and how to develop. It is so key to take ownership of your own development.
You can also reach out to people currently in the roles you want, to discuss what competencies are needed.
3. Get a mentor
Mentors open doors, give guidance and drive change in your career. They can connect you to the people you need. It’s key to try find one in your field or a field you want to go into. But mentors can sometimes be hard to find, and there is this idealistic figure of what a mentor should be that is not always realistic. So seek out people around you who can act as mentors, even if not formally. We all could use some guidance.
4. Have a plan
The most important for me is having a plan. You need to know where you want to be, not in some dreamy way, but in absolute detail. Write down your short term and long term plan, in detail. Think about what the roles you want to take up would look like. Then choose 5 organizations you would want to work for. This helps you be able to identify where you can fit in, and not, and what organizational culture works for you. Of course, we all plan and then life can takes us in different directions, but knowing where you want to be can ensure you stay on course.
I love that with the internet, you are able to get a glimpse of where you can end up, and in this new world, we really can be whoever we want to be.
I hope these tips help you get there.