You don’t need us to tell you how important it is to invest in your career because you already know. However, there are many ways you can spend time investing in your career growth, and we want to make sure you choose the option that is best for you. This is not an extensive or definite list of how you should be investing in your career but a list of 8 things you can do to start working towards the career path you wish to be on.
Ever heard of Simon Sinek? If anyone is going to help you find your ‘why’, it will certainly be him. Between his TED Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” and his book “Start with Why”, Sinek will take you through a journey that helps you discover and identify what you do, how you do it and why.
Identifying your ‘why’ allows you to give a deeper purpose to what you do and how you spend your time. Once you define your ‘why’, you can begin to effectively set greater goals in your professional and personal life.
Career planning can mean a multitude of things. In order to effectively conduct career planning for yourself, we recommend that you first determine your ‘why’. Once you’ve figured out what drives you, start focusing on how to get where you need to be. Take time to reflect on your current career by keeping track of your likes, dislikes, achievements and skills you’ve developed. After you’ve completed this, figure out where you need to be. Explore new training or certification opportunities that could set you apart from everyone else, update your resume to reflect your latest skills and leverage the relationships you have the opportunity to build with leaders within your company.
Career planning isn’t a one-and-done activity. It should be a regular undertaking that allows you to set goals for career growth. It may seem like a lot of planning at first, but if you make career planning a regular activity in your life, your growth will come even more natural to you.
Your personal brand is your reputation and impression that you leave on people. Do you want people to think of you as hard-working, innovative or a strong communicator? All those fall back onto building your personal brand. To begin, focus on your strengths. A good resource for identifying your strengths is CliftonStrength Finders. This tool allows you to uniquely identify your strengths while giving you insights on how to leverage them. It also gives you insights to the areas you may struggle in as a result of your strengths. Once you’ve identified your strengths, it’s time for an action plan. Think about how you can best leverage your strengths to strategically accomplish your goals and leave a lasting impression on the people you work with.
Gallup research found that people who know and use their strengths are, “more engaged at work, more productive in their role, and happier and healthier.” If your personal brand is genuine and consistent, the positive impact you can create for yourself and those around you is significant.
There are a lot of ways you can start building relationships. A simple way would be connecting with your co-workers and other individuals who work at your company. You can also get involved in industry or alumni meetups, volunteer in your community and chat with people on LinkedIn.
According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Yale University report, “70 percent of all jobs are found through networking.” When it comes down to it, the relationships you build both personally and professionally are going to help you get that extra edge you need to get where you’re going.
It may be time to go back to school, or at least back to an online certification course. Do some research into the top professional certifications for your industry and make sure they are actually worth your time (and sometimes money). Some certifications may be great for your work efficiency, but won’t help you get a pay raise. If you’re really not sure what certification is going to help you reach your career goals, find people on LinkedIn who have the position you’re working towards. They most likely have a certification or degree listed on their LinkedIn that helped them land their job.
Employers are looking for professionals who are up-to-date with industry standards. Not only can your certification or degree help get you hired, it can help you earn more money. Outside of the competitive edge a certification or degree will give you, it can positively impact your work through increased efficiency and your professional credibility.
Identify individuals whose career you admire, or reach out to people in associations you’re involved in. Make a list of people who you think would best help you reach your goals and set up a time to meet up with them in person. Have a more informal conversation getting to know them and transition into a professional conversation about career growth and setting goals. If you’re looking for a mentor, we recommend letting the relationship evolve more organically. If you’re looking for a career coach, we recommend doing lots of research and asking for a free consultation before you commit to paying them to help guide your career.
Having a career coach or mentor can help you build a realistic and actionable roadmap to advancing in your career. With the right people helping you, you’ll build your confidence that recognizes your true value in the workplace, gain lifelong career skills and be guided through important career decisions.
The very definition of work-life balance is shifting. We’re not here to define what a good work-life balance is, because it means something different to everyone. However, here are a few tips that can help you reach a work-life balance that is healthy for you:
According to a report by the Corporate Executive Board, “Employees who feel they have good work-life balance work 21% harder than those who don't.” Besides increasing your work efficiency, maintaining a work-life balance is good for you overall health.
Do you know the current market value of your skills? With almost every industry constantly evolving, it can be hard to keep up with the latest compensation trends in your area. We developed a tool to help you better decide if you’re getting the salary you deserve. Our Salary Guide helps you compare salaries by job title in different cities across the nation.
Knowing the market value of your skills will help you make more informed career decisions, whether you’re looking to move jobs or are interested in knowing how your salary compares. The cost of not negotiating your salary is more than you think. According to a study by ZipRecruiter, someone who negotiates their salary up from $40,000 to $45,000 and enjoyed an annualized rate of growth of 5 percent over a 45-year career would earn about $750,000 more during their lifetime than if they’d stuck with that first offer.
What are you waiting for? Now that you have a better idea of how to invest in your career, search through our salary guide to see the compensation you should be getting based on your current skill set, and see the compensation you could be getting depending on how you invest in your career.