Are you constantly head down, plugging away on your next project as deadlines hover? Are your clients and colleagues continually wringing their hands for updates as leadership presses for bigger, better and faster solutions?
If you said, ‘yes,’ you are not alone. With today’s hyper-competitive, continually disrupted market, there is an expectation to thrive amid chaos. Management and consumer expectations, it seems are zooming higher and higher, creating a feeling of never doing enough.
However, allowing this press of expectations to create a head-down mentality can overwhelm your personal career goals and advancement if you allow it, impacting your future prospects. While bringing your best self to your current job is important, it is equally crucial to proactively nurture and maintain a healthy career that you can look forward to, despite the winds of change.
Following are eight things you can start doing now to ensure you are prepared for any and all eventualities.
1. Identify your next-step career goal. Do you want to make a lateral move? If you love what you do and want to ensure continued opportunities in a similar role, then that’s great. Or, perhaps you would like to perform a similar role but in a different industry. Or, maybe you want to break through to the next level supervisor or management role, tapping into recent experiences and achievements directing people or teams. Perhaps even, you are seeking out a wholly different career – a big change, if you will. Make note of this and define what that role looks like. Bottom line, being clear on your destination for the next chapter of your career is critical for getting there.
2. Define what you love. Do you love solving complex problems, authoring reports, planning logistics, working with customers face to face, multi-tasking, going deep and wide into long projects, working solitarily or collaborating in teams? The list goes on, but keep thinking and then prioritizing the details of initiatives and skills you continually want to leverage in your next role. List your top 10, and then narrow that further into your top five favorite areas of skills focus.
3. Define what you dislike. No job is perfect, and there always will be aspects that are boring or tedious. However, by identifying those aspects that you find least favorable, you can better attract the right-fit role and steer away from those positions that are least fitting for your personality.
For example, even if you perform well in a customer facing role, this doesn’t necessarily mean you enjoy it. If continual customer engagement depletes and exhausts you, you may be more suited to a behind-the-scenes role.
4. Enroll in training and development. If the target role you have identified requires skills, abilities and/or experiences that you have not acquired, then seek to fill the gap. If company sponsored training is available, tap into it. If not, invest in yourself, devoting both the time and money necessary to get up to speed so that you can move into the next role more smoothly, with the proper credentials.
5. Record your contributions. If you’ve been so busy ensuring your job is done right and clients are cared for, that’s terrific and indicates you are achieving results. Have you written those achievements down somewhere? If not, find a notebook or open an online document and begin writing them out.
Don’t worry about perfectly articulating your stories – freeform at first. Once you’ve warmed up your thought engine, begin organizing your stories into a situation, action, result format to ensure you pull the threads of each story all the way through the situational fabric, creating a clear picture. For example:
Situation: One-off sales mentality created a region that was last-place performer among 8 colleague regions.
Action: Introduced under-educated ‘old-school’ sales team to a technology-based culture focused on peer-driven accountability and implemented a series of sustainable programs.
Result. Drove region from #8 to #1 in country within 12 months.
6. Research companies. Delve down into their culture, their hiring process and what their employees are saying. Create a target list of companies that appeal to you and begin the conversation with employees and decision makers within those organizations.
7. Build your resume. You’ve already identified your target role, begun compiling your achievements stories and pinpointed companies that appeal to you; it’s time now to pull together a more formal story that you can share with company representatives when discussing how your experience complements their needs.
8. Audit and bolster your social networking presence: Ensure your public profiles, from Facebook to Instagram to LinkedIn, etc., not only are complete but also present your professional essence in a positive light. Assess your profiles for potentially negative vibes then delete negative, and add positive, content to improve your persona, where needed. Intentionally add value to your audience with professional content and organically market your skills versus focusing solely on personal travel, parties and activities, for example.
Change rarely is as sudden as we like to believe, so don’t ignore the red flags, rumors or gut feeling that change may be afoot at your company or job. Continue working hard to prove your value in your current role while also taking time to prepare for the eventualities that can occur in an ever-changing workplace climate.