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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Holly Chavez

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

10 Huge Differences Between A Boss And A Leader

10 Huge Differences Between A Boss And A Leader

When you try to think of a leader at your place of work, you might think of your boss – you know, the supervisor in the tasteful office down the hall.

However, bosses are not the only leaders in the office, and not every boss has mastered the art of excellent leadership. Maybe the best leader you know is the co-worker sitting at the desk next to yours who is always willing to loan out her stapler and help you problem solve.

You see, a boss’ main priority is to efficiently cross items off of the corporate to-do list, while a true leader both completes tasks and works to empower and motivate the people he or she interacts with on a daily basis.

A leader is someone who works to improve things instead of focusing on the negatives. People acknowledge the authority of a boss, but people cherish a true leader.

Puzzled about what it takes to be a great leader? Let’s take a look at the difference between a boss and a leader, and why cultivating quality leadership skills is essential for people who really want to make a positive impact.

1. Leaders are compassionate human beings; bosses are cold.

It can be easy to equate professionalism with robot-like impersonal behavior. Many bosses stay holed up in their offices and barely ever interact with staff.

Even if your schedule is packed, you should always make time to reach out to the people around you. Remember that when you ask someone to share how they are feeling, you should be prepared to be vulnerable and open in your communication as well.

Does acting human at the office sound silly? It’s not.

A lack of compassion in the office leads to psychological turmoil, whereas positive connection leads to healthier staff.[1]

If people feel that you are being open, honest and compassionate with them, they will feel able to approach your office with what is on their minds, leading to a more productive and stress-free work environment.

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2. Leaders say “we”; bosses say “I”.

Practice developing a team-first mentality when thinking and speaking. In meetings, talk about trying to meet deadlines as a team instead of using accusatory “you” phrases. This makes it clear that you are a part of the team, too, and that you are willing to work hard and support your team members.

Let me explain:

A “we” mentality shifts the office dynamic from “trying to make the boss happy” to a spirit of teamwork, goal-setting, and accomplishment.

A “we” mentality allows for the accountability and community that is essential in the modern day workplace.

3. Leaders develop and invest in people; bosses use people.

Unfortunately, many office climates involve people using others to get what they want or to climb the corporate ladder. This is another example of the “me first” mentality that is so toxic in both office environments and personal relationships.

Instead of using others or focusing on your needs, think about how you can help other people grow.

Use your building blocks of compassion and team-mentality to stay attuned to the needs of others note the areas in which you can help them develop. A great leader wants to see his or her people flourish.

Make a list of ways you can invest in your team members to help them develop personally and professionally, and then take action!

4. Leaders respect people; bosses are fear-mongering.

Earning respect from everyone on your team will take time and commitment, but the rewards are worth every ounce of effort.

A boss who is a poor leader may try to control the office through fear and bully-like behavior. Employees who are petrified about their performance or who feel overwhelmed and stressed by unfair deadlines are probably working for a boss who uses a fear system instead of a respect system.

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What’s the bottom line?

Work to build respect among your team by treating everyone with fairness and kindness. Maintain a positive tone and stay reliable for those who approach you for help.

5. Leaders give credit where it’s due; bosses only take credits.

Looking for specific ways to gain respect from your colleagues and employees? There is no better place to start than with the simple act of giving credit where it is due.

Don’t be tempted to take credit for things you didn’t do, and always go above and beyond to generously acknowledge those who worked on a project and performed well.

You might be wondering how you can get started:

  • Begin by simply noticing which team member contributes what during your next project at work.
  • If possible, make mental notes. Remember that these notes should not be about ways in which team members are failing, but about ways in which they are excelling.
  • Depending on your leadership style, let people know how well they are doing either in private one-on-one meetings or in a group setting. Be honest and generous in your communication about a person’s performance.

6. Leaders see delegation as their best friend; bosses see it as an enemy.

If delegation is a leader’s best friend, then micromanagement is the enemy.

Delegation equates to trust and micromanagement equates to distrust. Nothing is more frustrating for an employee than feeling that his or her every movement is being critically observed.

Encourage trust in your office by delegating important tasks and acknowledging that your people are capable, smart individuals who can succeed!

Delegation is a great way to cash in on the positive benefits of a psychological phenomenon called a self-fulfilling prophecy. In a self-fulfilling prophecy, a person’s expectations of another person can cause the expectations to be fulfilled.[2]

In other words, if you truly believe that your team member can handle a project or task, he or she is more likely to deliver.

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Learn how to delegate in my other article:

How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

7. Leaders work hard; bosses let others do the work.

Delegation is not an excuse to get out of hard work. Instead of telling people to go accomplish the hardest work alone, make it clear that you are willing to pitch in and help with the hardest work of all when the need arises.

Here’s the deal:

Showing others that you work hard sets the tone for your whole team and will spur them on to greatness.

The next time you catch yourself telling someone to “go”, a.k.a accomplish a difficult task alone, change your phrasing to “let’s go”, showing that you are totally willing to help and support.

8. Leaders think long-term; bosses think short-term.

A leader who only utilizes short-term thinking is someone who cannot be prepared or organized for the future. Your colleagues or staff members need to know that they can trust you to have a handle on things not just this week, but next month or even next year.

Display your long-term thinking skills in group talks and meetings by sharing long-term hopes or concerns. Create plans for possible scenarios and be prepared for emergencies.

For example, if you know that you are losing someone on your team in a few months, be prepared to share a clear plan of how you and the remaining team members can best handle the change and workload until someone new is hired.

9. Leaders are like your colleagues; bosses are just bosses.

Another word for colleague is collaborator. Make sure your team knows that you are “one of them” and that you want to collaborate or work side by side.

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Not getting involved in the going ons of the office is a mistake because you will miss out on development and connection opportunities.

As our regular readers know, I love to remind people of the importance of building routines into each day. Create a routine that encourages you to leave your isolated office and collaborate with others. Spark healthy habits that benefit both you and your co-workers.

10. Leaders put people first; bosses put results first.

Bosses without crucial leadership training may focus on process and results instead of people. They may stick to a pre-set systems playbook even when employees voice new ideas or concerns.

Ignoring people’s opinions for the sake of company tradition like this is never truly beneficial to an organization.

Here’s what I mean by process over people:

Some organizations focus on proper structures or systems as their greatest assets instead of people. I believe that people lend real value to an organization, and that focusing on the development of people is a key ingredient for success in leadership.

Learning to be a leader is an ongoing adventure.

This list of differences makes it clear that, unlike an ordinary boss, a leader is able to be compassionate, inclusive, generous, and hard-working for the good of the team.

Instead of being a stereotypical scary or micromanaging-obsessed boss, a quality leader is able to establish an atmosphere of respect and collaboration.

Whether you are new to your work environment or a seasoned administrator, these leadership traits will help you get a jump start so that you can excel as a leader and positively impact the people around you.

For more inspiration and guidance, you can even start keeping tabs on some of the world’s top leadership experts. With an adventurous and positive attitude, anyone can learn good leadership.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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