Whether you're stuck in a job rut, desperate to escape and find your true calling, or are simply looking to boost your chances and reach new levels in your current role, a rewarding career is something we can all aspire to in 2016.
Dr. Ines Wichert is a psychologist, co-president of the Professional Women's Network (PWN) London and author of Where Have All the Senior Women Gone: 9 Critical Job Assignments for Women Leaders.
She tells Stylist her top 10 tips for boosting your career in 2016.
1. Be clear about what you want
If you are among the estimated 30% looking for a new role this year, then start your job search with some homework. What are you looking for? Simply more money or an opportunity to grow your career?
If you are looking for career growth, that may mean trying something new rather than doing more of the same, but only at a more senior level. Leaders need a broad base of experiences. Do some research and use your network to learn about new roles.
2. Build a strong network of contacts
You need good contacts both inside and outside your company, so consider joining a networking organisation. Don't worry if you think networking isn't for you, it's a skill that can be learned. The more you do it, the better you get at it. Very few people describe themselves as natural networkers.
People value three things when you meet them: attention, knowledge and contacts. At your networking event, ask open questions to find out more about your new contact and then offer to share a relevant article you may have read recently or to introduce the person to one of your existing contacts who may be a good contact for your new acquaintance. Exchange business cards and make sure that you follow up and make good on your offer.
3. Plan, but be open for unexpected opportunities
The advice about engaging in detailed career planning is mixed. Career experts often advocate it strongly, while senior people often say that they never had a career plan.
It’s important to remember though that senior people often had sponsor who paved their career path (and with it their informal career plan) for them by continually offering them new and important roles which allowed these leaders to gather the right experiences.
There is no doubt that being clear about where you want to get to is a great bonus. It keeps you focused and helps you make decisions. At the same time, however, be open to the unexpected opportunities (possibly provided by your sponsors) to take on a challenging new role.
4. Learn on the job - every day
Don’t wait for the next classroom-based course to come along.
Your job brings opportunities for learning and growing every day. If you feel that there is no room for further growth in your current role but that a job move also doesn’t work for you, then consider gaining new experiences by volunteering for a special project at work or take on a leadership role in a not-for-profit organisation.
There is nothing more powerful than learning new skills by doing.
5. Take calculated career risks
Playing it safe is likely going to lead to slower career advancement. Be prepared to try something new, even if it is a completely new role.
Reduce the risk by having a great support network and trusted advisors in place who you can call upon as you get to grips with the new role.
6. Use your mentor effectively
If you have a mentor, make sure get the most from this important relationship.
Research shows time and again that women benefit less from mentoring than men. Women often have less powerful mentors than men and often receive, and even ask, for different mentoring support than men.
Women tend to get more psychosocial support from mentors, but we know that the type of support that really helps your career is the hard-hitting, and sometimes uncomfortable, career advice.
Don't be afraid to ask for the support you need.
7. Set up your personal advisory board
Career advice doesn’t always have to come from a more senior mentor or a professional coach. If you don’t have a mentor, find a group of trusted peers who you can meet with on a regular basis to talk about your careers. Share aspirations, find support and dispel doubts. Having a trusted sounding board is invaluable.
8. Know your career stakeholders
Do you know who your career stakeholders are for 2016? Are they the same as last year or has a recent reorganisation brought new people into your field of career decision makers?
If there are new people who influence your career, make sure they know who you are and what you want. And if they haven’t changed? The same applies: find some time with them to let them know what you want to achieve career-wise in 2016.
9. Have that elevator pitch ready
No matter at what level of the organisation you work, there are always multiple senior stakeholders who should know what you are doing but who may not have enough time to find out.
When you bump into that all important person in the corridor, have a high impact, two sentence update on that great piece of work you are working on. Senior people knowing who you are and what you are working on is a strongest predictor of getting that next promotion.
Make time to reflect on your personal development. Review how you are using your network, mentor and personal advisory board (or not). Choose three actions from the list above and focus on those.
You may want to keep a diary of your weekly learning and challenges. For key interactions, meetings or learning opportunities, ask yourself: What went well and what can I improve on? Probe deeper and explore: what happened in this meeting? How did it make me feel? What might the other person have felt and how may they have perceived my actions?
Learning to understand your own reactions and those of others makes for insightful leaders and in a turbulent business world. Such insights and a learning mindset are critical for career success.