Advertising
Advertising

9 Ways to Jumpstart Your Career

9 Ways to Jumpstart Your Career

Whether you have decided to stick with your current field or are currently seeking to reinvent yourself, it is wise to have a career path in mind. After all, setting your sights on a desired career trajectory will make it easier to achieve your goals. Of course, selecting your preferred path isn’t enough on its own to make things happen. Instead, you have to be willing to put in some hard work, along with following proven techniques that could make the difference between getting that next promotion or remaining stuck in your current position.

1. Sign Up for Training Courses

Are you working in an entry level position but trying to become knowledgeable and skilled enough to make the next move up the career ladder? Or perhaps you’ve attained a medium-level position, but you want to make the leap to management? Showcasing proficiency in your current job is the first step, but you should also sign up for any applicable training courses that will help prepare you for career advancement.

Keep in mind that a lack of training causes 40 percent of employees to quit their job in less than one year. By seeking out the training you need, you can set yourself apart from the rest of the pack and make sure that you truly want your target position.

Advertising

2. Utilize Networking

The saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” is extremely accurate, which means that you need to make networking a priority. However, you may not know who in your professional and personal network is best equipped to help you with your career. This is especially true if you are looking to move to a new company or industry.

Fortunately, networking options such as Covve and LinkedIn can help. For example, Covve allows you to search your network for individuals who are connected to industry leaders. This means that you can quickly discover who is in the best position to help you make potentially career altering connections. By using this process, you can save yourself a lot of time and energy during your job hunt.

3. Request a Cross-Functional Project

One thing that companies often look for when making an internal promotion is which employees have demonstrated that they can work well in a team environment. Additionally, workers who have picked up skills from various departments and learned to apply them with reasonable competence will typically be viewed as more promotable than those that only specialize in one specific department or role. If you are not being offered cross-functional work, be sure to request it.

Advertising

4. Create the Right Online Reputation

Everyone has something in their past that they would rather keep hidden from their current or potential employer. This is the Internet Age, though, which makes it harder than ever to keep your proverbial skeletons locked firmly in a closet. Because there truly is no such thing as privacy on the Internet, you must clean up or even delete any social media profiles that could make you look like an undesirable candidate.

At the same time, don’t become unsearchable because this will seem very suspicious. Instead, present the type of social media image that is best suited for your chosen career path. Also, always remember that 18 percent of companies have fired someone for a social media post, and this number continues to grow each year.

5. Consider Getting a Mentor

The information that you can learn from a mentor is invaluable, and they may also end up being the person to recommend you for a promotion or a new job. Therefore, it makes good sense to seek out someone who has already achieved the type of career success that you are aiming for. Be sure to listen carefully to all of their advice and ask them questions that can help you conquer your fears and other stumbling blocks. Having a mentor will increase your chances of succeeding, and you will also acquire access to a new network of potential future colleagues and employers.

Advertising

6. Determine Your Strengths and Work with Them

Perhaps you want to change your career path because you are unhappy in your current line of work. You may also have become bored with your position and want to be promoted so that you can take on a new challenge. Before you can figure out which career path will be truly satisfying, it is necessary to determine your personal strengths and interests.

For instance, if you aren’t very organized and don’t have a love for numbers, it doesn’t make sense to look for a career in the bookkeeping field. However, if you have a love for socializing and creating eye-catching imagery, this could make you a natural fit for a marketing or sales position. By tapping into your inner strengths, you can get a clearer image of how to structure your career.

7. Seek Out Honest Feedback

Some people truly aren’t aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and this may make them believe they are qualified for a promotion when they truly aren’t ready yet. Asking your coworkers and supervisors to offer you honest, constructive feedback may not be easy, especially if they point out some weaknesses you don’t know about. In the long run, though, this is one of the best ways to determine your strengths and to have the opportunity to improve your weaknesses. As an added bonus, taking this type of initiative for personal growth may impress your supervisors enough to help you land the next available promotion.

Advertising

8. Pick a Path and Stick with It

Obviously, everyone needs to make enough money to take care of their basic needs, so you may need to keep a job you don’t enjoy for a while. When it comes to getting a promotion or switching fields, though, it is vital to choose what you want and target all of your efforts toward achieving it. Therefore, if you want to work as the HR leader of a non-profit organization, tailor all of your training and networking toward that specific goal and field. Otherwise, it will be way too easy to end up needlessly spinning your wheels in multiple directions.

9. Read about Your Chosen Field

There are countless websites and blogs that can keep you updated about your desired field and position. However, reading books is one of the best ways to truly absorb a lot of new information that can be put to good use during your daily work tasks or in an interview. Reading has also been proven to make people better thinkers, and this is a quality that many employers are looking for. Although you should also make sure to read something just for fun from time to time, selecting books about your chosen field can help you jumpstart your career.

By putting all of these tips into action, you can have a big impact on the trajectory of your career path. If a new field or company is in the cards, be sure to take full advantage of smartphone apps for job hunters.

Featured photo credit: Nazareth College via flic.kr

More by this author

Holly Chavez

Writer, Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner

How I Keep the Spark Alive in My 10 Years of Marriage 8 Psychological Tricks To Help You Nail the Interview of Your Dream Job The Ultimate Solution To Your Super Long Stay At Bathroom: Constipation Remedy. Low glycemic index foods I Promise These 10 Low GI foods can Keep You Fuller For Longer! Emotional Quotient Isn’t Just About Emotions. It Involves Numerous Skills

Trending in Career Advice

1 10 Essential Career Change Questions To Ask Yourself This Year 2 10 Job Search Tools Every Jobseekers Need To Know About 3 10 Websites To Learn Something New In 30 Minutes A Day 4 50 Great People To Follow On LinkedIn, No Matter Your Industry 5 If You Have This Key Behavior, You’ll Be More Successful Than 90% Of People

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

Advertising

Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

Advertising

If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

Advertising

Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

Advertising

How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

More Articles to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next