Career Tips and Advice for 2021 and moving forward
There is not one simple answer on: how to grow a career? Growing a career involves many factors, which is why we divided them into a few key points. A few important things to mention before we dive in are:
- every career is unique – therefore there are various factors that might be more or less relevant
- external factors – there are always other factors influencing a career. But what we look at in this post are the factors that you can control or at least try to influence yourself.
When making career related decisions
Know what you want.
Knowing what you want is important as the famous saying goes: “The first secret of getting what you want is knowing what you want.” – Arthur D. Hlavaty
A great exercise is the Ikigai Model, that can help you brainstorm to find out what you want. More here. Keep the big picture in mind and whenever you set your goals, think of concrete actions/tactics that will help you achieve those goals. Knowing what you want should also involve some research, for example: how have others achieved what I want (career paths), what do others receive for the job role (benchmarking salaries), what qualifications are necessary (skills research).
Make some time for reflection.
Similar to performance reviews within work, you should try to make time for reflecting on your career. This time is for looking back on accomplishments and analyzing what you can do to grow further. Ideally you take some time monthly, or quarterly, looking at: what was good, what was bad, any missed opportunities, etc.
This is not necessarily about moving forward, but rather about remaining active within your career. It is not a secret that getting back into the world of work, after a break (for various possible personal reasons) is extremely difficult. Once you know what you want, you can better define a timeline and possible actions to achieve each step. Being active can involve various things such as: working, training, learning, studying or traveling.
Don’t stay comfortable.
Being comfortable means staying within your comfort zone/bubble or thinking inside of the box. If you truly want to grow your career, you need to move out of your comfort zone and do things that might scare you at first.
If you think of your career as moving up a staircase (which is cheesy but a common metaphor), the key of moving steps faster is not staying comfortable/staying put on one of the steps.
Try to meet/connect with many people
Growing your network is an important part of career development. The more people you know, the more likely you are to grow your career as your network can provide you with unique opportunities, not only about finding new job opportunities but helping each other out for professional projects or sharing new connections for partnerships within your work. There are so many advantages to growing your network.
Connect online and offline. There are multiple ways of expanding your network, even remotely or through online events: attending webinars, online meetups, joining group channels/communities (on slack, linkedin, facebook, xing or more), up to visiting physical events.
“Tell me about yourself”
Don’t be afraid to go beyond your cv/resume. Your work experience or degree don’t define you, they influence and impact you. A great way to stand out is to use storytelling to express any personal stories (passions, interests, experiences) or work-related stories (achievements, challenges, ideas). You will more likely be remembered/relatable, achieve trust and establish a relationship.
Your answer should stay relevant, but instead of restating the resume, this open-ended question provides a unique opportunity to uncover your strengths, personality and interests. Sometimes it can help to prepare a first sentence or pitch in advance, depending on the type of event you are joining. This is your chance to be unforgettable and show you are a high performer.
Within your work
Never stop learning.
Always keep learning. Even if you think you know everything there is in your current job or field of expertise, there is always more knowledge available. Especially nowadays, what you know now might be out of date in a few years. Knowledge is experiencing an interesting “expiration date” that you might be unaware of. If you want to continue achieving new success and grow your career, it is imperative that you keep on learning. This will help you keep your qualifications relevant and up to date.
There are amazing online courses and certificates for various fields. When deciding on where to spend your time to up-skill or learn something new, it’s helpful to consider where you want to be in the future. A future-oriented outlook is key. Ask yourself if what you are doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow and will be relevant in the future. The co-founder of Kickstarter, Yancey Strickler, published a great article about the so-called value stack. We are moving closer towards “future me” and “future us”.
👤“Future me” – our goals and what we aspire to be – an increased interest in learning/developing new skills
👥“Future us” – reflecting on the future challenges of 10-20 years – and what we can do today to help solve them.
Don’t come with a problem, come with a solution.
This is a secret many appreciate in work. If you want to stand out and move forward within your career, it is vital that you are remembered as someone who brings solutions. Why? Because leadership involves a lot of decision making and therefore when confronted with problems, it’s crucial that you can show you are up for any challenge.
Problem-solving skills is something recruiters also look for when hiring top talents. Whenever you bring a problem/challenge to your manager or want to discuss an issue, think about potential ideas/solutions and ask for which option your manager would choose. Know where you want the conversation to go in advance, as it helps you prepare where you want to put attention towards.
Stay up to date
Keep up to date with trends that are relevant to your career. Why? It will help you find upcoming skill gaps that you can prepare for (boosting your career) and will improve your quality of work by being prepared for future scenarios (instead of reacting to them).
There are many great resources out there, covering newest trends and providing research that draw insightful conclusions. We recommend using a tool to curate news/articles that are relevant to you personally – then take 5-10 minutes each morning to stay up to date. A great tool is feedly. Another interesting tool is blinkist, comprising non-fiction books in short summaries. But there are even more ways to stay up to date:
- Follow industry thought leaders on social media
- Subscribe to relevant newsletters
- Join relevant communities on social media
- Read the news/relevant publications
Don’t forget to also follow people you completely disagree with! It is super helpful to make sure you are fed with all kinds of viewpoints and information. Today’s algorithms are focused on providing you with content that matches your interests, therefore following people you disagree with can help you uncover more variety of content.
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