How to advance in your career

How to advance in your career

The average person makes five career changes over the course of a lifetime. Often these lead to better jobs in terms of higher status and better compensation, but sometimes a person will take a wrong turn and end up temporarily losing employment ground. When that happens, he or she may need to start over or find another career path.

If you would like to advance in your career field, don’t just wait for it to happen. Take a proactive approach to determining your future by following a few basic tips like these:

1. Seek out a mentor. Be on the lookout for a successful leader in your career field. This person may be your supervisor, someone who works in another company, or may even be retired. Your mentor has navigated the pitfalls and challenges that are common to workers at your career level. He or she can provide advice, answer questions, and point out shortcuts that may help you reach your goals more quickly. Cultivating a relationship with someone who is an expert shows your interest in doing a good job. This can provide an extra benefit when others notice.

2. Follow the example of a higher-level role model. Keep your eyes on someone who is a level or two ahead of you in the company. Then assume some of that person’s characteristics. For example, you may want to dress in a little more professional manner. Or you may put in some overtime, as your role model does, to help the company in times of need and function as an effective team player. This can pay off when you earn a reputation as a hard worker who cares about company success. Those who want to advance should look and act like the person in the position above them.

3. Develop new skills. Take advantage of company-sponsored training seminars, workshops, or other professional development activities. Consider investing a bit of your own money to enroll in classes or attend a conference. The more you learn about the job you hope to have, the sooner you will be qualified to hold it. With additional training your become a more valuable employee, one that can fill gaps and avoid layoffs.

4. Write a five-year career plan. When you have some time to reflect on your career goals, jot down an outline for where you want to be in five years. Do you plan to get a college degree? Complete training for a certification? Earn two or three promotions? Switch jobs? Give examples or descriptions for each step. It need not be more than a page, but having a written outline of your objectives will make it easier to stick to a tangible plan of action.

5. Learn to manage your time and money. Wherever you’re at on the ladder of success, learn to manage your resources wisely. Live within your means and save 5% to 10% of your net income each month. If you get the opportunity to advance by switching companies (and thus losing a week or two of pay), you will be prepared to make that sacrifice for the long-term benefit. Plus, managing your own assets well will put you in a position to manage those of others, whether your company or its clients. Do the same with your schedule. Don’t cram it so full of back-to-back social activities that you get little else done. Balance work time with leisure time, and don’t skimp on either.

Don’t wait for fate to tap you on the shoulder and nudge you into a forward position. Get going now by taking control of your employment future and garnering the best possible advantages.

Don’t wait for fate

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