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5 Keys To Managing A Career Crisis After Graduating College

5 Keys To Managing A Career Crisis After Graduating College

We hear it constantly on the news: recent college graduates are having a hard time finding work (especially related to their degree). It can be incredibly frustrating to be stuck in that position. The job market, already very competitive, is sometimes unforgiving for 20-somethings with undergraduate diplomas. If you’re thinking to yourself, “How can I get out of this situation?” you’re not alone. The good news is there are ways to cope, and hopefully get out of the rut and onto your dream career track. In the meantime, here are five things to remember when facing a career crisis.

1. Don’t ever oversell yourself.

It’s tempting to mention a few skills or experiences you don’t actually have in order to land a dream job. However, that’s certainly going to come back to bite you. Your skill-set is unique, so use it to your advantage, rather than promising things you can’t deliver. No job is worth the risk. And if your dream job requires something you don’t have, consider taking a class or workshop on the topic. It’s possible you might need to be more open to things like that if you want to keep your skills fresh and relevant. New technologies and breakthroughs are happening every day, so keep up with the information in your field. But don’t ever tell them you’re caught up when you’re not at all.

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2. Be realistic.

You have to recognize you might not get the job you want right away. In some cases, you’ll need to work your way up the ladder. In others, you’ll find yourself in a completely different job. It’s important to recognize these possibilities and be prepared to accept them. Having unrealistic expectations for your career after college is only going to set you up for disappointment. However, be sure to remember the line between realistic expectations and pessimism. Be careful that you don’t fall victim to too much disappointment.

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3. Be grateful.

Okay, so you’re stuck in a job that isn’t exactly what you envisioned when you entered the real world. That might not be ideal, but it’s important to remember others aren’t so fortunate. Be grateful that you have work, that you even have a college degree, and that you’re still dreaming. See everything as an opportunity to better yourself and make connections. Employers are impressed by people who worked hard despite a difficult situation. It shows responsibility and initiative.

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4. Remember your long-term goals.

Just because you’re in a less than ideal situation now, it doesn’t mean you won’t get out of it. Never lose track of your career aspirations. Your goals will guide you through your career crisis, and you might just end up getting to your perfect job. Keep in mind there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s important to use your goals as a way to make the most of the situation while maintaining hope that you’ll eventually land your perfect job.

5. Don’t give up.

Don’t let your skills become rusty. Don’t stop looking for the job you want. Don’t stop sending applications. Don’t stop networking. Don’t stop believing that someday you’ll have the career of your dreams. Don’t fall into the routine of being disappointed. Don’t let this get you down. Always remember what you want and never stop reaching for it. You’re not alone in your career crisis. So many people before you have been in this same situation, and many of them have found ways into jobs they loved. And if that isn’t enough inspiration to get you through your crisis, remember that Madonna used to work at a Dunkin’ Donuts. And now she’s, well… Madonna.

Featured photo credit: University of Denver via flickr.com

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Published on March 25, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up. You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out.

But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

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Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

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Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

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Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

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Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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