NEWS + ADVICE
Future Career Success Means You Need to Do This Today
You have a job now – whether it’s a recent change or you have been there awhile, your job is part of your career now. How are you using it to build your career successfully?
We get a new job, we meet a few co-workers in person or virtually, and we get to work. Our work may include some planning – to meet specific work goals, for performance management purposes, or just to keep track of all our assignments. But for many of us, that’s about it. We have work demands, we have lives with demands, and we get busy. Yes, I do understand that. It happens to me too. But if you want to build your career and your future, you need to act to do that regularly. And most of us do not.
The most basic step is to do your present job well. Work effectively to achieve important goals and tasks. Connect with your boss. Update them regularly on your achievements. Make suggestions for process improvements. Learn about your company, its goals, and how you can grow there. Work well on teams and with others. Doing your job well sets the stage for new opportunities and for people to know you as an ‘impact player.’
You can make short- or longer-term career plans – lots of work, very useful, if maintained. Few people do this unfortunately.
Everyone can take simple, smart actions to grow and develop their career with only a little time and effort each week. These help you achieve longer term success, change jobs when desired, cope with sudden job changes or loss, change careers as desired, and be ready for contract changes.
Long-term success means you need to be valued in your career field and know how to grow beyond it as needed and be visible to people who can help and support your future. Here’s how:
1. Maintain and Build Human Connections
This is always a two-way street. You have to give as well as get. You do not need hundreds or thousands of connections, but you do need a variety: People in your career field and outside it, at all levels with some geographic spread.
Start with people you work with and others at your organization too. Learn about their roles, look for common connections, and reach out periodically just to check in or grab lunch with.
Maintain or reconnect with people from your past who interest you. What are they doing now? What can you do for them? How can they help you now or in the future? If you have not, thank them for any past support!
Build new connections. Look for people who are leaders in your field or are in positions which interest you as potential future jobs. Add in people in adjacent work and others outside your field whose work may influence it – AI, power skills, future technologies, and so forth. Meet these people at professional events, on social media, or via articles or seminars which interest you. Any author or speaker likes to hear that their work meant something – use that to connect with them. If you volunteer at something, you also will meet a different set of people who may be good contacts. Ask current contacts to recommend people they think will interest you – in your field or elsewhere.
Do a little of this work each week. Some people spend 5-10 min each day contacting people on a regular basis and maintain spreadsheets or other tracking options to be sure they connect on a specific time frame across the year. Others do this in bursts each week or month. Pick what works for you. Send useful links, tell them something that will help with their work, ask a question. Start small and maintain the practice for some months before going for some bigger effort. As you get better at this, add in the periodic phone call or coffee meeting.
2. Keep Your Social Media Current
Whichever social media you prefer, it takes time and effort for it to be useful. Learn how to be effective on the platform you choose. Dedicate a little time to it at least weekly. Make sure you are keeping any profiles current.
One of the concerns I often hear is the fear that if one updates an account – often LinkedIn – one’s boss will get suspicious one is looking for a new job. Keeping it updated regularly eliminates that, but you can also turn off those profile update notifications. Usefully, leaving them turned on also makes it more likely you are in front of the people you want to notice you. Update your work achievements as they occur. Add in some volunteer activities. Share information or articles with people directly or on the feed. Comment on articles others share. Connect with people you have met as above.
Use social media to stay connected. It’s also a quick way to learn about new developments in your field, to find out about how the economy or new technologies might impact it. Find events to attend and books or articles to read. Keep your comments professional.
3. Keep Learning
Your future is in your control. People who continue to learn are those most likely to succeed longer term. Stanford’s Longevity Center talks about the ‘new map of life’ and the 60 year career – that is our current reality, even though not everyone recognizes it. Continuous learning is vital. There are so many options available. First learn what your company may offer or support. Some have extensive programs, some only cover college tuition, and some do nothing. Once you know those options, look at what works best for you there and beyond.
Community colleges offer lots of learning options beyond the classical early courses for a degree. Many offer certifications, technology options, and career development programs. Online resources are almost endless. Professional associations offer both in-person and virtual options directly related to growing your career field knowledge – and have the bonus of meeting people in your field who may be useful connections. There are newsletters on any topic which interests you – some free, some not. YouTube has videos on many professional topics as well as on other stuff you may need – from using various apps or software to improving your social or emotional skills. So does TikTok, although I have concerns about privacy issues there. Instagram, Meetup, Eventbrite, and others offer relevant content too. I read books and professional journals regularly. Your local public library has useful resources. Invest in yourself and your future.
All of this is important work to be sure your biggest investment – your career and future – has the best options available. So many of us lose this in the battle of time to work, live and play. I hear people regularly tell me that they did not have time to learn a new skill or that they don’t know anyone younger or older to connect with. They cannot answer an interviewer’s question about the latest book they read or technology they learned. Paying attention to your future is an easy way to have the future you want. Invest yourself and your time wisely.
Patra Frame is ClearedJobs.Net’s HR Management Consultant. She is an experienced human resources executive and founder of Strategies for Human Resources. Patra is an Air Force veteran and charter member of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Follow Patra on Twitter @2Patra.This entry was posted on Monday, January 30, 2023 10:45 am