Developing your career strategically can be one of the most important things that you can do. Getting into your field of choice, establishing yourself as a professional, and climbing the proverbial corporate ladder all seems to be given. But is that really all you should attempt to accomplish throughout your professional career?
The answer is, of course, of course not! If that were all there was to a career; it would become terribly dull after a relatively short amount of time. Not only that, but it’d become unfulfilling, which is something that can ruin your drive to perform in your career. So, what else should you be pursuing career opportunities? If you feel a bit lost on this, take into consideration these eleven choices.
1. Choose Your Target Industry
Choosing the industry you want a be in is essential to increase your knowledge in specific fields of expertise. Are you into green energy? Or do you think you want to grow into technology? Even the traditional consumer products industry can be a good choice. Career websites, in general, have great material to explain in detail many fields to follow your career pathway, including consumer non-durable products. Totempool, Indeed, or Monster are great examples.
2. Expand Your Network
Second, expand your network. I know we talk about networking all the time, but it really is one of the most important things you can do. Why? Networking provides you with helpful information that you can use in your industry and work and allows you to find new opportunities in the future.
Realistically, it would be best if you took every chance you have to network throughout your career. Developing a network of peers, acquaintances, and professional alliances should be a goal for every working professional. It’ll serve you well, in the end.
3. Invest In Education
Third, always consider furthering your education. Getting an entry-level or intermediate degree can be pretty helpful towards advancing your goals. Degrees, certifications, and even Bootcamps can give you a significant raise in your yearly salary.
While school can be expensive, you can typically find tuition reimbursement with some employers, loans with better rates, or scholarships available to you. Take a look at what options are available to you—you might be pleasantly surprised with what you might be able to find.
4. Build a Personal Portfolio
Fourth, consider building up a personal portfolio. While not applicable to every line of profession, those in the arts, marketing, or other fields closely related to presenting a public image are going to want to consider it. Building a portfolio isn’t just about putting together a website, listing your best works or projects, or even building up a marketing campaign.
Realistically, it’s about compiling your accomplishments, successes, and every relevant piece of your career to paint a picture of yourself to present to the public.
Doing this gives you networking opportunities, the chance to present your best self to those who might take an interest in your work, and acts as a great way to keep a record of your successes.
5. Identify Challenges
Fifth, try to identify challenges within your industry or even your individual workspace and make a plan to try and address them.
Are things lacking in your office space? Is there a leadership vacuum or a reoccurring issue? What about industry-wide problems? Take an interest in these issues and see what you might be able to contribute to these issues.
6. Prepare for Leadership Roles
Sixth, if you are interested, why not seek out an eventual management role? Management isn’t for everyone, of course, but plotting a course for a leadership role can be a great goal to set.
Not only do you get the bonus of a salary increase, but you also get a chance to train new people, introduce new concepts to the workplace, and generally build a rapport with your fellows. Being able to train up to management can introduce all sorts of new paths and options into your career and, again, while not for everyone, can make for an excellent opportunity to pursue.
7. Find a Mentor
Seventh, consider taking up some kind of educational or mentorship role. Lots of professionals who established themselves in their fields have thought about reaching into the practice of teaching or mentoring. These options go somewhat hand in hand, though teaching more often refers to the more traditional route of in-person and online classes for those looking to learn more about your profession.
Platforms like Skillshare, Lynda, or Udemy are full of these kinds of opportunities. Mentoring can follow a similar role, though professionals often choose to take more of an internship, externship, or direct mentoring role for those asking to learn more. Both can be excellent ways to gain valuable new insight into the industry and help nurture further professionals.
8. Develop Transferrable Skills
Eighth, determine what transferrable skills you might develop across multiple industries. Marketing, coding, communication skills, etc., are just a few examples of skills that can carry across sectors. This is something you’ll want to think about early on.
A career change isn’t exactly an uncommon thing for most people out there, and knowing what skills you have on your side already can make for a beautiful first step to get you going. Starting from scratch isn’t impossible, but having some building blocks with you is always a plus.
9. Plan Your Retirement
Ninth, plan towards a retirement goal. Not all of us are married to our work, let’s face it. Even those of us who are will want to retire one day, and planning for that early will be something you thank your past self for later. Look into the retirement plans through the company, learn the basics of financial planning, and figure out what you want to do with your golden years. Life will throw the occasional wrench, but a good backup plan will always come in handy.
10. Plan Your Personal Project
Tenth, plan out personal projects outside of your career. Planning within your career is one thing, but almost all of us have outside goals that we want to accomplish. Want to write the next brilliant novel? Take some writing classes, plan to write at least five hundred words a night, etc. Want to learn how to code? Take some online courses or consider a Bootcamp. No matter what it is, make sure you are paying attention to your passions outside of your career.
Make sure you are working on backup plans. Things can go awry all the time. Interests can change, companies can go under, you can go into business for yourself, etc. Work towards having backup plans if things turn on the tide, and you’ll find any shell shock transitions that much easier.
You’ve got this! Ultimately, your career path is about YOU and what you want to accomplish. Use these steps as a guideline, take a deep breath, and don’t be afraid to take that first step towards the future.