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10 Signs It’s Time To Really Think About Your Career

10 Signs It’s Time To Really Think About Your Career

There’s nothing like the feeling of starting a job you love and going to work every day feeling excited and challenged. But what happens when a job that started out as a great step towards building a flourishing career takes a nose dive?

Suddenly, the song You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling becomes your new theme (not the cool Top Gun version covered by Maverick and Goose) and you feel unsure about your current career path.

When your job becomes just “a job,” a lot of things happen that you may not even realize. It can cause you to turn into a completely different person from the wide-eyed bushy tailed professional you were at the beginning of your career. You not only lose sight of your initial goals, but also jeopardize the future of your career without even knowing it.

Here are some warning signs that your job is ruining your career.

1. You are no longer excited about starting new projects.

Taking on new projects is a great way to learn and display leadership in your job. If you find that another project just means more work for you that’s not worth the kudus or mediocre salary, it may be a sign that you’ve withdrawn from your job.

Once you start losing interest in what you do, it will show and negatively impact your career.

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2. You are just going through the motions.

If wake up, go to work, drink coffee, answer emails, and go home sounds like your typical day, then there’s something missing: your active participation. Are you just getting through the day and can do your job with your eyes closed?

If the answer is “yes” then it’s time to reevaluate your job. A job where you just go through the motions without much thought is great if you’re a robot, but you’re not.

It’s important to have a job that challenges you daily and keeps your brain sharp or else you risk losing your ability to generate career-enhancing ideas that will help you grow.  

3. You are not making a competitive salary.

Staying in a dead-end job is not only bad for your career, but hurts your pockets too. Forbes contributor reporter Cameron Keng published an article regarding employees staying at the same company making 50% less than those who leave.

This means that you lose money over the course of your career the longer you stay at a job and receive the average 1.3% raise, if any. Sometimes the fear of being a “job hopper” makes the decision difficult.

But staying at the same job that doesn’t offer financial and professional growth puts you at a disadvantage and makes you less competitive in your industry.  

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4. You are doing the same thing that you’ve always done.

Your job should offer ongoing opportunities to be challenged. It’s hard to be considered a high-performer at work if you’re not challenged. Being comfortable will make you stagnant and not grow in your career.

Try to take on new tasks or see if there is a way to improve a current process. If you’re not learning new skills or taking on new roles, you risk being passed over for acknowledgement, raises, and promotions.  

5. You are always complaining.

Did you know that “grumpiness” is one of the side effects of being unhappy with your job? And that’s putting it in a nice way. You may not realize that you turned in to a different person, but your coworkers and friends do.

It’s normal to vent about work from time to time. But make sure your unhappiness with your job isn’t negatively affecting your business and personal relationships. Constantly complaining may deter others from wanting to work with you or refer you for a potential opportunity.

6. You are not on top of your industry.

When you have a flourishing career, it is more likely that you are current with new technology, standards, and principles because it’s an important part of doing your job effectively.

Look for opportunities to practice new things even if you have to do it outside of work. If your job doesn’t incorporate modern or new techniques in your field, you risk falling behind based on current industry standards.

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7. You are not using your best skills.

Your job should give you the opportunity to perform tasks that utilize and enhance your best skill set. For example, if you are a people person but work in front of a computer all day with minimal contact, it can be very unfulfilling.

There will always be some aspects of a job that you don’t like, but make sure they bring out the best of your skills, so that you can build an impressive list of career highlights in your role.

If not, you jeopardize your ability to build a strong portfolio of achievements based on showcasing your best qualities that make you unique.

8. You are making small mistakes with everyday tasks.

A tell-tale sign that you’re at your wits’ end with a job is making simple mistakes. Sure everybody makes mistakes, but if you’re frustrated you tend to make more. This could be because you hate tedious tasks and rather watch paint dry than to organize one more meeting or run one more report.

Although you may not put too much thought into it other than pure annoyance, these mistakes may negatively impact how your manager and colleagues view your ability to get the job done.  

9. You are fighting with your manager.

Your manager can make your job a breeze or a walk through hell. When your manager lacks good leadership skills, it can be a challenge to do your job right and be a great source of tension. Your manager is the one who gives directions and should guide you when help is needed.

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If you find that their lack of leadership leads to constant fighting, it could be a warning sign that your job performance will be questioned—whether rightfully so or not. Tension with your manager can impact your career when it comes to performance evaluations and recommendations.

10. You are doubting yourself.

The biggest impact of staying at the wrong job is that it eventually wears on your confidence. Over time you start questioning things about yourself that you would never question like saying the right thing or taking the right action.

It’s so easy to get caught up in a toxic situation whether it’s due to having a horrible manager, difficult coworkers, or just a dead-end job. This can affect your ability to effectively convey your personal brand in a way that will attract new opportunities.

When your job no longer lends to your growth and ability to feel good about yourself, it’s time to move on for the sake of your career.

Featured photo credit: confused man chooses road outdoor via shutterstock.com

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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