It can be exciting—and a little scary—when you decide to begin a plan to take your career to the next level. Maybe you’ve been with the same company for five—or even ten—years.
You might have been satisfied with your benefits and raises, but one day, you realized that those perks aren’t enough—you want something more out of your career. And wanting more means working toward a promotion or a career change.
Once you realize it’s time to move up in your company, it’s time for you to start laying the foundation on which you will build your new and better career. Instead of spending your days dreaming about a better position, consider taking some steps toward personal and professional development to improve your career. Not all of these steps are necessary, but each of them can help you set yourself up for success.
1. Do your online research
The Internet is full of valuable information on careers and career advancement—if you know where to look. Whether you want to move up within your company or change careers, you will find plenty of online resources. You could start with the website for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, where you can find out information on the nature of a job, the typical work environment, necessary training and education needed, the job outlook in the field and the compensation. There are plenty of other online resources that you can seek as well—job search sites like Monster andIndeed can help you aggregate results and apply quickly and easily.
2. Seek additional education, certification or training
Investigate your educational requirements and opportunities. Sometimes a bachelor’s degree is sufficient for fundamental aspects of a job, while a master’s degree can set you apart from the pack, helping you move forward with your career advancement goals. Explore your field to find out what you will need in terms of education.
3. Network or job shadow
If you want a no risk way to explore your new career path, find a way to test out the job before you take life-altering action. This test drive can give you a taste that may require little time commitment if you’re not currently working a full-time job. If you know someone who has the job of your dreams, see if you can shadow them while also helping them with their daily tasks, as long as their own boss is on board with this practice and their work is not privacy-sensitive.
4. Be present and proactive in your current position
During staff meetings, don’t let a moment to shine pass you by. If your boss seeks an exciting new idea, be the person with the innovative and exciting new office revelation. Working with a team is also a great way to get noticed and implement your ideas: if the people you work with are on board with your ideas, it’s more likely that your supervisor will be open to them.
5. Become involved in industry organizations
This level of networking may prove critical. By going to conferences or industry luncheons with your peers and potential mentors, you have a better idea of what is available in your field and how to achieve it. Each of these steps can give you the advantage you need to build the career of your dreams. As long as you’re persistent and stay focused, you’ll eventually meet your goals.