When do I get my shot at management? Have I hit a glass ceiling? What must I do to boost my growth? If these questions keep you wide awake late into the night, it’s about time you give career investment a fresh thought. Career investment features among the top new year resolutions for most professionals. But as the year moves on, the enthusiasm to work on it goes from a raging inferno to a low simmer to a damp squib.
So how do you stay on course? We list out factors that you need to work upon if you are to see your resolution come to fruit and your career stay on course:
Be certain about your passion and strengths
It is logical that a career aligned with one’s passion will inadvertently result in sustained growth and drive to succeed. Your career is an activity which you will partake in for an extended period. So you might as well invest your time and effort in a field or sector which resonates with your aspirations.
But looking at the other end of the spectrum – the realistic one – most of us do not get to pursue our passion. It is just the harsh reality of life. However, sometimes passion, or interest, for a field can develop after you are thrown into the deep end with limited or no skills intact. So how do you succeed and come out on top? Well, invest and bolster the strengths that you already possess. Once you have a strong working knowledge, you focus on the weaknesses that you need to master.
Find your mentor
Like a young Luke Skywalker needed Yoda to get in sync with his Jedi powers, every professional requires the right mentorship to stay on-course. From helping you learn the ropes to imparting life knowledge to moulding your perspective, your mentor is a key element who ensures you are ready to duel it out in the professional arena.
According to the Founder of SAV Chemicals Ankita Shroff, “Having a mentor is not only a guideline that directs you to the right path in your journey but is also a source of motivation and inspiration.”
But the right mentor won’t just walk up to your door and ring the bell – you have to put in the effort and search for him/her. How do you know when you find the right person who fits the bill, you ask? Well, the mentor should be someone who is an expert in the field, and preferably has been in the midst of a few “boardroom” battles. But above all, he/she must constantly push you to test your skills and lead you in the right direction.
Network like your professional life depends on it (it does)
When we say networking, we don’t just mean on a social network, but rather a professional network of your peers and senior professionals. Effective networking helps distinguish professionals, and even entrepreneurs, from the rest of the pack. In the professional circuit, you are bound to meet and work with many contemporaries or senior professionals, so it is advisable to have a healthy and strong bond with your peers. You never know when you’ll be in need, and should the need arise, you know the right doors to knock on.
Networking can be a tough code to crack, especially when you are just starting out. So at times cold-emailing or cold-calling can also pitch in to fill the gap. Find it hard to believe? Well it worked out for Eric Gonsenheim. In 2007, Eric, who was interning at JP Morgan Chase, decided to cold-email CEO Jamie Dimon for a personal meeting. To his surprise, Dimon responded, and a meeting was set up two days later. Think about the impact that meeting would have made for Eric, and to top it all, he had Jamie Dimon in his networking list! That’s an envious start to your career, something everybody should take a leaf out of.
Establish your personal brand beyond the work-space
It’s great that you are checking all the boxes in the top performer’s criteria at work, but is that enough to scale your career? Not always. Given the tough competition that a professional ecosystem entails, just being good, or even great, at your job doesn’t always cut it. Hence, take time out to build your own personal brand outside the confines of your daily work grind.
Whether it is blogging, addressing seminars, or writing a book, these activities add to your credibility as an expert in the field. Imagine if one of your blogs or posts manages to impress a senior member of the company’s hierarchical chain – it might be the deciding factor between a shared workstation or a corner-side cubicle.
Stay up to date with the right certifications
Whether you are a techie or in management, every field has its fair share of updates, and there is always new scope for improvement to your skill set. If career investment is your focus, then it holds well to invest time, money, and effort in renowned certificates, as they add that much more value and credibility to your CV. If time and cost is your concern, there are plenty of digital courses available that can come to your rescue. With an array of courses available, both offline and online, you can choose among the relevant ones and try to rake up as many added skills as possible.
Focus on the path ahead
Comfort is the death knell to any and every aspiration. If you are in a scenario where the present job is comfortable, then you need to pull yourself out of that slumber and give thought to where the next set of challenges lie. This doesn't necessarily imply that you jump ship and chart a new course. Give yourself time and space to think about how much growth your company can offer and ask yourself the time-tested question, “Where do you see yourself about five years down the line?”
In a scenario of confusion, having an honest conversation with your manager or superior about how you can progress your career within the ambit of the organisation is probably the best choice. If you don’t find the answer to be in tune with your future goals, then maybe jumping ship is a good option.
Remember, nobody else will invest the same amount of time and effort in bettering yourself as you will. The onus of improving your career prospects is entirely on you, so make it a priority, and you’ll see growth coming your way sooner than expected.