We all "have" a career, but many of us don't feel in charge of it.
Developing your career can be as challenging as anything you might ever face because many of us define who we are based on what we do for a living. In other words, our career goals become very personal because we work to survive financially and we work to make our professional contribution to the world in which we live.
Career development is all about making a plan. Planning for the next level of your career. Creating a plan to overcome any insecurities you might feel along the way. Getting help with our career path is sometimes about us helping ourselves.
1. Find clarity in what you want from your career
Feeling stuck in your career is a natural part of career progression because, as humans, we are naturally inclined to grow and evolve. If we're not learning "more" along the way, then we are stagnant and can become bored.
According to professional business coach, Ren Burgett, "If you don’t have a clear idea about what you want, it’s easy not to take action, feel empowered or be enthusiastic about your work. And oftentimes, being stuck feels worse than being out of a job because you’re lost in the limbo of inaction."
Her advice is first to decide what you DON'T want - then be honest with yourself about what it is you truly want - then figure out your "reasons why" - then take action. In other words, you can't just step into the action without a clear foundation and a clear understanding of yourself in the context of your professional career.
2. Get unstuck when your job/career is going nowhere fast
Because we are constantly evolving, our "dream job" changes along the way. What we thought and felt we wanted years ago is now completely different. This is an excellent sign that your career is developing at a good pace because YOU are growing at a good pace.
Feeling bored and anxious at your job might be a sign that it's time to make some changes. Maybe it's a lateral department change to switch up your environment or co-working team. Maybe it's a promotion. Maybe it's changing companies. Maybe it's becoming an entrepreneur part-time to develop something on the side that fulfills you.
Outgrowing your current job is like outgrowing a personal relationship. Ask yourself, "Would I want this same job if I was interviewing today for it?" Your answer might surprise you.
Ren Burgett advises to make a list of all the likes and dislikes of your current job - then write an ideal job description for the job you really want. Now it's time to go to the boss and ask for the job that suits you best. This can easily lead to a conversation about expanding your role at the company. Maybe you realize it's time to dust off your resume to pursue something new, maybe even with the help of a mentor or career coach. Professional coaching is more popular than ever because it's sometimes the nudge or support you need to make your next career move.
3. Have confidence in yourself to pursue big career goals
Going back in time to try to remember what you wanted "to be when you grow up" is the last place you need to look for answers about your career path. It's much more impactful to ask yourself, "Where do I want to work now?"
Maybe that's a company you've been eyeing for a while - one that has great benefits or a workplace environment you desire (like being able to bring your dog to work!). Maybe it's a place you've discovered by visiting a colleague at their workplace - one that sparks your imagination about how you might fit in there.
When my husband got laid off of a job he liked and started to panic about, I asked him point blank, "Where do you want to work?" His response was funny because he acted as if that was a preposterous question. He had never asked himself that question before because he was so used to thinking thoughts like, "I hope I can find work in my field," (after graduating college) or, "I hope they hire me," (after a job interview) or, "I hope the job market is in my favor," (when job seeking).
He blurted out, "Well, I like hockey." Then I said, "Well, let's see if the local NHL team is hiring." Turns out they were! He submitted his resume immediately and starting his current "dream job" within days of being laid off. This year marks his 13th year of employment there, and he couldn't be happier. All because he decided where he wants to work instead of deciding that the opportunities were not "out there" for him.
4. Help identify your key skills and talents through personality assessments
Most of us have done Meyers Briggs or maybe StrengthFinders or maybe DISC to assess the "color of our parachute" professionally. But even better than these is a fairly new measure that can really help you hone your career development.
The Keller Influence Indicator (KII©) from the Keller Influence Institute founded by Dr. Karen Keller, a clinical psychologist and Master Certified Coach specializing in human behavior. "The KII© is the Fitbit© of Influence," says Mary Foley, AOL former head of corporate training.
Keller describes, "Your ability to influence others is NOT static. You can change minds, shape opinions, and move others to action. You have the capability to become a more effective influential leader, increase your contribution, complete an initiative, close more deals, gain new clients & customers, launch a project, get a promotion, achieve respect & acknowledgment, help a worthy cause, or grow your business."
5. Hone your interview skills and update your CV/resume and LinkedIn profile
After you get clear about your next career move, be sure to edit your LinkedIn descriptions "as your future self" so that you are acting "as if" your next career move is already in the making. For example, describe your self in your current title as a role you desire to be in moving forward.
Next, find some mentors who can help you with the trajectory of your career. Maybe you can reach out to those who have previously expressed their generosity in saying, "If you ever need someone to bounce some ideas off, I'm here." Dig through those business cards from previous networking events or maybe peruse LinkedIn for a bit to remind yourself of all the professionals you have at your fingertips - literally!
No matter, if it's a new job search or a professional pivot, changing your career can sometimes be as easy as changing your mind, changing your environment or changing your attitude about where you currently are and where you would like to be ultimately.
Who knows...maybe you'll want to become a professional coach yourself!
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