Is Your Career Stagnant? 8 Ways to Get Moving
You were very happy when you landed this job a while back, but now you're feeling [pick one or more of the following]: Bored. Uninspired. Hungry for more. Trapped. Underpaid. Underappreciated. Stuck. You're suffering from a stagnant career--big time!
So what do you do?
Just waiting and hoping someone will notice you and offer a better job won't cut it. You need a plan.
1) INVENTORY YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Many people say, "I know I've done great work, but I don't have any specific accomplishments." Often, these aren' slackers talking, but accomplished execs.
Don't be one of them!
Do some introspection. How have your made a difference? Go beyond your responsibilities and articulate clearly the impact you've made: how you've made or saved money, improved the company image, streamlined processes, improved quality, salvaged damaged customer relationships, improved morale, etc.
2) FIND A MENTOR
Take advantage of the formal networking program at work. If the mentor assigned to you doesn't take the task seriously, find someone else-without stepping on toes, of course. If there is none, find one on your own.
A good mentor can provide career guidance, behind-the-scenes information, and the benefits of their experience. Your mentor might include you in key meetings and help to spread the word about you as an up-and-comer in the organization.
3) ASSESS AND IMPROVE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR BOSS
How's your relationship with your boss? How can you improve it? Your boss holds the keys to your upward mobility or lack thereof. Have a conversation with your boss to be sure that you are prioritizing your work properly. Be sure that your priorities are aligned. Find out how you can help to make him/her a superstar. Have a conversation with your boss about moving up and what you need to do to make that happen.
Don't go to your boss with problems, unless it's necessary. If it is, approach the boss with a solution, to get approval for tackling the issue, rather than wondering what to do. Most bosses like proactive people. It makes their job easier.
Develop a rapport that goes beyond just work, whether it's talking about local sports teams, kids, hobbies, etc. Get to know your boss as a human being.
Make sure your boss knows what you are doing. Many people assume that just because they're doing great work, the boss will recognize their achievements and promote them. Wrong! Well, many times, this is wrong. You see, as discussed in our previous blog post, the boss often pays the most attention to problems. If you are handling things superbly and there are no big problems to address, you run the risk of being invisible and taken for granted. This can mean being passed over in favor of the incompetent self-promoter or, worse, being targeted for a layoff.
If your relationship with your boss is bad and you can't improve it, find a different boss - inside your company or outside it. PRONTO!
4) BOLSTER YOUR SKILL SET
Are you doing your best work? What do you need to get to the next level? Take a course. Get a certification. Learn new software. Take a leadership course. Join Toastmasters International to improve your public speaking and presentations skills. Keep current with what's going on in the industry and outside your industry.
How is your time management? Do you find yourself spending a lot of time working on things that don't matter all that much? Are you focusing on the key things that are going to make a difference in the organization - and help you get ahead?
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Volunteer to take on additional responsibilities, particularly those that get you visibility within the organization. But don't volunteer for everything. Do this strategically. Make sure that you only volunteer for things that are worth your time and that you don't overload yourself. You don't want to wind up with egg on your face from saying you will do something and then not doing it right and on time. Look to see if there are ways to focus on better things. Can you delegate better? Are there ways to have things that don't matter taken off your plate? Ask the question, what do I need to do less of in order to do more of what's really important?
7) LEARN TO TOOT YOUR OWN HORN
I know that mom and dad told you to be humble. I know the corporation always stresses talking about "we" rather than "I," but learn to talk about yourself positively without bragging and without taking credit for other people's work. Walt Whitman said, "If you done it, it ain't bragging."
8) BUILD A STRONG PROFESSIONAL NETWORK
Don't put your light under a bushel basket. Make sure that people in your company and others in the field and others who matter know who you are and what you can do. Go to conferences. Join a professional association. Attend networking meetings. Go to the office picnics and parties. Nurture relationships by taking time to keep in touch. Keep abreast of others' careers and what they are doing. Always think of networking as a two-way street. How can I help you to get ahead?
BE IN ACTION.
If you're feeling stuck, be in action. Don't let another day go by in which you are stagnant and unhappy- and not doing anything about it. Develop your plan and start working it.