5 Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level

Regardless of your current career, or the specific field you are in, there are some surefire ways to take your career to the next level. Career building had been on the back burner before Covid as millennials picked and chose what jobs they did, worked ad hoc, and changed career track frequently. Furthermore, during Covid, global financial markets have slowed, and many thinks that so too has career development and planning.

However, the idea of futureproofing has become a key term being used to describe the way forward in employment. As we all consider the way the world will look on the other side of the Covid pandemic, we additionally need to consider how to make sure our careers can make it through any future global shifts. Securing and building a sustainable career has again become mainstream as larger numbers of young people look to level up and those already in careers look for change.

A sustainable career is one that will stand the test of time. This is becoming increasingly important as the pandemic has shown us that nothing is permanent and that it is important to find work that has longevity. The ideal career must now be able to be done from anywhere, pay well, and withstand the onslaught of pandemics as well as wider global financial stress. It is a lot to ask from a career, but times are changing, and if planned well, all these things are possible.

Here are five steps to help you think strategically about your own journey towards a sustainable career: –

1. Develop a Clear Plan

You must know what ‘next level’ means for you. Be prepared to sit down and plan the way forward for your career. Regardless of what field you are currently working in, building a career is not a haphazard occurrence. Whether you are starting at the bottom or working your way through middle management, if you know where you would like to end up, then there is a greater chance of reaching the planned destination. One way to do this initial planning is to develop a strategic life/work plan. A strategic life plan is a simple yet effective means of deciding what your next career step should look like.

You need to have a clear vision of where you would like to end up, or at least where you would like to be in the next five years or so. Dream big and plan for success, using jargon-free language. You must be realistic and identify what your actual career options are before you create an unachievable vision. Compare scenarios and paint a clear picture of where you would prefer to end up. This could mean weighing the pros and cons of different options and choosing the one that is going to take you where you want to be. It is important to take your time and make sure that you make the best decision for yourself.

Focusing on your vision will allow you to develop a clear career plan for your future. You must know clearly how you aim to reach the overall goals when you intend to take each step towards your goals and then design a routine to get you there step by step. The most commonly used acronym for goal setting is SMART goals, which should help focus the process.  Your goals must be:-

Specific:- Each goal must be clearly defined so that you know exactly what meeting these goals looks like.

Measurable:- You must be able to measure whether the goals are being met a d thus also how far each goal is from being achieved.

Attainable: – The goal must be possible; stretch yourself but make sure they are actually doable. There is nothing worse than striving to do something that is nigh impossible.

Relevant:- Each goal must be linked to the overall vision in some way.

Time-based: – There must be a timeframe for the achievement of each goal.

The clearer your plan and the more detailed this plan is, the better you will be able to implement it and monitor your progress. Remember, your career plan will impact your life, and although you can be a bit lenient, only you can implement it. Planning and clarifying the steps you need to do are important if you want to live your best life.

2. Believe in the company and show the correct behaviors

No matter what it is you do and where you are on the career ladder, from the mailroom to the board room, one thing is certain, if you want to advance in the company or improve career prospects, then it is both necessary and essential that you believe in the company. Its products or services must be something that you would purchase or use. This belief and commitment to the firm should be evident in the work that you do. If you find yourself working for a company whose products, services, or ethos you do not fully buy into, then it may be time for a re-think.

In addition to this, your work ethics and motivation are the key to being noticed in the workplace. The top 3 workplace ethics to be mindful of are:-

  • Reliability is the most highly rated ethic expected in the workplace. An individual employee must be able to do what they have agreed to do. This is the basis of the employment contract, and all employees will expect it. It is easy to achieve and the rationale for being in the job.
  • Integrity is about your honesty, sound judgment, and loyalty. Your employees will want to know they can trust your work but also trust you to represent the company with integrity and professionalism.
  • Productivity, the business of business is still business, and your current role must be productive. There will be no chance of furthering a career if you are unable to make the most of the current position to bring about some benefit for the employer.

Your dedication and commitment to the company can take you far. It must, however, be genuine, and this can only be achieved with a thorough understanding of the company, its products, processes, and clientele. It is worth going the extra mile if you want to make it.

3. Further Training

Development, both personal and professional, is a guaranteed means of improving one’s career and taking it to the next level. One of the few positives of the current Covid context means we have more time, and online learning has become easy to access. With the increase of online training and companies’ use of technology for home learning and staff development, there are numerous ways to use this to improve your career. You must be informed of the various study options related to your current role and make use of these. There are several avenues to take in this regard, and any or all of them would be beneficial in the process of improving your career.

In house company training

This type of training is generally available in most organizations, and regardless of how basic you believe it to be, it will count in the final tally in terms of your skills and development. Learning your company processes or doing all of the extra training that your company makes available are vital steps towards the next level in your career. Becoming the in-house buff, systems superuser, or the most knowledgeable in company products and services is a definite winner in any manager’s eyes. It also builds an image of dedication and commitment to the company’s values and shows your interest in being there for the long haul.

In-house company training would be a basic first step when it comes to further learning and development and can be very easily done.

Recognize the importance of your firm’s HR with regard to your internal training. If they do not approach you with training options, take the initiative and inquire from them about the options. Impress upon them your eagerness and willingness to train and upgrade existing skills.

External further training

Look for those courses or degree options that would build on your current qualifications. There are many options out there, and these may range from a practical degree course on the role that you perform or a more general financial and management-related degree to add to the existing practical subject-specific skills that you currently have.

A recognized MBA is generally accepted as a course that will suit any graduate professional with any first degree. The MBA is considered the means of entry into the world of business and senior management from an initial field and will allow you to master management’s essentials. Many such professional programs are being offered online. A great example is the Suffolk University MBA Online, which offers the opportunity to step into a management position from your home or office’s comfort. If you do choose the MBA or further degree option online, ensure that the institution you choose is registered and accredited with the relevant bodies and that your qualification will be genuine and accepted by your employer.

Similar to the internal training and development, many organizations will be willing to pay for some form of continuous staff development. So, before you choose, speak to your company HR, and see what could be covered.

4. Build a Solid Reputation for Professionalism.

Keep your outlook and behavior professional and in keeping with the position and responsibility levels at all times while in the workplace. Office banter and humor is useful for team building and sociability, but it must always be kept professional. You do not want to become known as the office clown, as this could also mean you are not being taken seriously. Do not expect to move up the corporate ladder if you are not courteous, polite, and professional.

Keep in mind that e-working and remote working etiquette is as important as that displayed when in a face-to-face setting. Be aware of what is expected when in an online office setting and use the required etiquette.

Social media posts have been the downfall of many professional people, and it should also be kept in mind that it is not just at the workplace that your behavior may be judged, or ethics questioned. Note what you post on the social platforms and be aware that your information can be accessed once in the public domain when looking for that next role.

Building a career can be all-encompassing; depending on the specific field that you are in, you need to be aware of this and act accordingly.

5. Be Prepared to Ask for the Next Step

A common misconception in the workplace is that if you do all the work, show all the correct behaviors, then following all that, you will eventually be noticed and granted the next step up when an opportunity arises. Many professionals wait their turn, and this could take years and may never happen. Once you feel that you have prepared and perhaps completed steps 1-4, you will need to be prepared to ask for the next step.

Your one-to-one meetings with management or appraisals in the workplace are the perfect opportunity to raise your ongoing professional development. Part of this means ensuring that your line manager is aware and informed of your readiness for increased responsibility and diversified functionality.

Concluding Comments

Certain things are beyond your control when it comes to your career progression; however, there are some steps that you can easily follow to be sure of some positive changes and improve career options. As the economy opens up again, make sure to be prepared for opportunities as they arise.  A great deal of what is required involves looking for appropriate forms of advice and information and then speaking to your manager and HR department to finalize a clear plan for your career. The steps provided here will allow you to prepare and plan your way through this process.

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