Except for a handful who are content with where they are, most employees dream of taking their professional life to the next level. This isn’t really surprising since by going up the career ladder, they’ll have the chance to earn higher incomes and ultimately achieve financial stability. They’ll also get to challenge their abilities while proving to themselves (and to other people) that they’re some of the best in the business.
Unfortunately, advancing a career isn’t always that easy, especially for those who are still starting out and/or are in extremely competitive industries. But, if you’re one of these people, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible since there are ways to stand out from the crowd and put yourself a few steps closer to success. These include:
Having a great work ethic
There’s no such thing as being too hard-working, especially when you want to improve your career. So, even if you consider yourself as someone who has a decent work ethic, take steps to transform yourself from a good team member to one of the best employees in the company. You can do this by:
Pushing yourself to be productive at least 99% of the time. Sure, it can be tempting to goof off for about a couple of hours (or even take a day off!) once you’ve finished a particularly difficult project. But don’t give in to the temptation; instead, just take a few minutes to clear your mind then focus on the next task at hand. This way, you’ll keep up your productivity rate and show your manager and everyone in the office that you’re serious about work.
Putting in extra time when needed. Be at your desk 30 minutes early so you can complete projects ahead of time and avoid missing deadlines. If your shift has ended but you still haven’t accomplished everything on your To-Do list, stay for an additional hour so you can finish your tasks before going home.
Embracing additional responsibility. This can be scary if you’re relatively new at your job and don’t really know all the ropes yet, but remember that your manager trusts you enough to let you work on a more difficult project. He or she knows you have the right skills and talent, so have confidence in yourself and do everything you can to come out with flying colours.
Keeping your skills sharp and up-to-date
No matter how hard-working you are, you’ll still be no match for those who are more skilful and knowledgeable than you. So don’t just push yourself to work harder; instead, find ways to sharpen your abilities and gain more impressive credentials.
One way to achieve these goals is to sign up for relevant short-term courses. If you’re an accountant, for example, look for programmes that will introduce you to the latest accounting software or help you develop advance finance skills. If you work in marketing, find courses that will help you learn more about search engine optimisation, social media marketing or online reputation management.
Of course, if you have the budget, it’s advisable to enrol in a post-graduate course. For instance, if you want to become one of the best leaders in your company, check out the courses offered by prestigious institutions like West London College. They have a range of programmes ― including the Master’s Degree in Business Administration ― that will help you improve your leadership skills and be qualified for senior managerial positions. By enrolling with WLC, you’ll study under experienced and highly qualified professors who’ll help you develop your knowledge and skills and transform into a dependable and highly capable leader. You’ll also interact with other like-minded students who won’t only make your experience more memorable but can also open doors of opportunities for you in the future.
Widening your professional network
No man is an island, especially when it comes to climbing up the career ladder. So, if you want to achieve long-term success, you need to build a network of contacts who can provide you with support and help give your career a boost. These people can give you advice when you hit a rough patch at work and help you identify solutions to any issues you might have in your professional life. They can even provide you with the necessary tools and introduce you to relevant people if you feel that changing career paths is the right option for you.
Building your business network might seem difficult especially if you’re not an extrovert and find it hard to speak with strangers. But there’s no need to worry since forging professional connections actually isn’t as hard as it looks ― as long as you take the right steps. You can start by attending events in your industry, where you won’t only get to listen to excellent speakers but you’ll also interact with lots of people who work in the same field as you. If your company is thinking of joining a trade show, ask your manager if you can man the booth. Doing this will let you hit two birds with one stone: you’ll show your boss that you’re willing to help the company and you’ll get to meet many new contacts.
Developing your personal brand
One of the best ways to advance your career is to have a unique and impressive personal brand. Through this, you can easily stand out from the crowd and distinguish yourself from your peers. You’ll also grab the attention of your current manager as well as potential employers and show them you’re a great asset to any company.
To build a strong personal brand, you need to:
- Identify what image you’d like to portray.
Ask yourself how you want people to see you. Do you want to be known as the creative expert who comes up with ingenious ideas? Would you like to be remembered as the pragmatic professional who offers practical solutions?
- Be careful with what you share on social media.
You don’t necessarily have to edit everything you do; after all, you still have to express your unique personality and show people the real you. But you have to avoid posting statuses, tweets and pictures that can paint a different picture of who you really are and even ruin your reputation.
- Share what you know.
No one would be aware of how knowledgeable and skilful you are if you’d keep silent in a corner, so be proactive and share your expertise. Create a blog where you can discuss pertinent topics in your niche, and join online forums to exchange ideas and information with other people in your industry.
The road to professional success isn’t easy. But, by taking the steps listed above, you can sharpen your competitive edge and use it to push your career forward.