Things to Think About When Growing your Career
Personal development and professional progression are interconnected. Often, the things we do to improve ourselves can lead to new-found strengths and skills in the workplace. However, there are some very specific things to focus on if you want to grow your career.
First, keep in mind that an overarching strategy should be to always think about ‘today’ and ‘tomorrow’ simultaneously. Try to focus on those elements that will have a positive impact on your current position, as well as on the roles you see for yourself in the future. With that in mind, here are the things to think about when growing your career:
Work on Soft Skills
The so-called ‘soft skills’ are important in almost every role. They are also transferable from industry to industry, across organizations and at every level. One of the most important soft skills is communication. The ability to communicate well involves knowing how to speak to different people and different audiences in different settings. You may need to express your belief in a certain area to someone in a more senior position, or you may need to explain to a colleague why you need their support for a particular project. Having good communication skills will help you get things done and will show managers and potential employers that you can handle a variety of situations. Conduct research and practice to improve your communications skills. Ask for feedback, try to read non-verbal cues, be honest with yourself and others. All of these things will help you develop your personal communication style.
One related soft skill is Conflict Management. The ability to navigate differences of opinion and perspective and being able to gracefully resolve conflicts in the workplace is a sign of potential and future leadership and will be valued by employers. Good conflict resolution requires having respect for others, patience, active listening, analytical skills and more. Internal conflict is a drain on an organization and if you demonstrate the ability to manage conflict, it will be regarded as a high value.
Problem solving is another critical soft skill that will help you advance in your career. Many elements are related to conflict management but problem solving skills can be applied to a business or organizational challenge. For example, you may have a team that works really well together, and you are all aligned in trying to figure out a possible solution to a particular organizational goal. In this instance, the ability to proceed methodically from defining the problem, brainstorming possible solutions, identifying alternative solutions, evaluating the solutions, and selecting the most effective option(s) is a real skill. Your employer will trust you with challenging projects if you demonstrate the ability to overcome obstacles.
Other important soft skills that will help grow your career include teamwork, adaptability, dependability, ideation, work ethic, and integrity. Soft skills are an integral part of both landing a job and growing your career and it is why the curricula within our ACCES programs will focus on these areas.
An important thing to understand as you grow your career is the power of networking. A strong professional network will open professional opportunities and will contribute positively to your overall job and career satisfaction. When it is done well, networking will help you land a job faster and, importantly, will help you develop your career throughout your professional life.
Networking and Career Growth
At ACCES, we consistently teach our clients about the finer points of networking and we provide many opportunities and connections for people to grow their networks. Networking has to be seen as an investment. It means taking the time to establish and nurture long-term mutually beneficial relationships with people. These are connections that can help you now and over the course of your career.
Networking is often thought of as something that happens ‘off the clock’ and outside of the office. While there is certainly value in connecting with people from other companies, do not overlook the importance of networking within your current workplace. As you build relationships within your organization, look for potential mentors, growth opportunities, and people who have skills and knowledge that you would like to learn more about. Again, networking is a career strategy that can pay immediate benefits, such as helping you find a new position, but it can have far-reaching effects into your future professional life; the connections you make now can lead to career opportunities years from today.
Having a ‘growth mindset’ means believing your talents and skills can be developed through hard work, sound strategies, along with help and knowledge from other people. Try to develop a growth mindset and never stand still in your career. Never be satisfied with what you know. Always be learning and looking to build on the skills you currently possess.
If you are always learning, your drive and ambition will be noticed by your manager, your colleagues and all those with whom you work. And, of course, over your career you will stockpile an impressive array of skills on which to draw to achieve the best possible outcomes.
Most good employers have training programs and subsidies to help your professional development. Always be on the lookout for these and take advantage of them when you can. Even if there are no formal professional development programs at your work, suggest growth opportunities to your manager. Be prepared to make a business case for how your skills acquisition can help your organization. Again, this approach can help you in your current role but also pay strong dividends in your future.
These are just a few key things you can focus on in the effort to grow your career. Working on your soft skills, developing a powerful professional network, and striving to always learn are among the more important factors to growing your career and achieving true job satisfaction.