Yes, it’s still August – but as September creeps ever-closer, that back-to-school feeling inevitably starts to kick in. And whether you’re skipping back into the office after your summer holiday or dragging your feet, now’s as good a time as any to take stock of your career.
Crucially, if you’re not entirely happy with your work right now, there’s no point wasting energy feeling despondent. That’s the message from careers coach and founder of Career Woman Inc. Lisa Quast, who recently compiled a list for Forbes of ways to kick your career into a higher gear. We’ve selected some of her best tips right here…
Don’t wait to get started
“There’s no time like the present,” says Quast. “Don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back. Career development plans, like ideas, are effective only if you implement them.”
Devising a “career development plan” might sound daunting, but it’s actually pretty simple. According to careers website Performance Manager, it starts with four simple steps:
- Write down your primary career interest, e.g.: “I would like to work in the advertising industry.”
- Identify your long-term professional goals and how you might get there. For example: “I would like to move from account executive to senior account executive, and ultimately to account director.”
- Pinpoint what exactly is stopping you, both personally and professionally, from achieving those goals, then think about ways you might overcome them. You might identify gaps in your skills that you’ll have to build on before you’re likely to get that promotion – or you might realise that there’s simply no space in your current company for you to move up the ladder. In which case, it could be time to move on.
- List 2-3 activities that might help you reach each of your long-term professional goals. This could be anything from cultivating a relationship with a career mentor, attending seminars or classes, or keeping a journal on your progress.
Get to know your competition
As Quast points out, “competition is a fact of life”. If you’re considering changing jobs, it’s important to assess who you might be up against.
“How do your skills stack up against others? Understanding your competition will help you determine your advantages and shortcomings, and help you decide on the actions you need to take to better compete by improving yourself,” says Quast.
LinkedIn is a handy way of scoping out who you might be up against. Check out the profiles of people whose careers you admire – and people who are in similar roles to you – and consider their qualifications and experience. If there are areas where they’ve obviously got an edge over you, it’s time to think about how to remedy that.
Read more: 6 ways to boost your LinkedIn profile
Celebrate your successes
“Don’t wait for others to shine a light on your accomplishments,” says Quast. “Give yourself encouragement and rewards (new shoes, a movie night, a special dinner) to help provide motivation and inspiration as you continue on your path to accomplish your career dreams.”
Attempting to wrest back control of your career can be a gruelling and occasionally fruitless task. Remember that wherever you want to be, you’ll get there in the end – and in the meantime, be kind to yourself.
Images: 20th Century Fox, NBC, iStock, UCG-Fox