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Whether you have decided to stick with your current field or are currently seeking to reinvent yourself, it is wise to have a career path in mind. After all, setting your sights on a desired career trajectory will make it easier to achieve your goals. Of course, selecting your preferred path isn’t enough on its own to make things happen. Instead, you have to be willing to put in some hard work, along with following proven techniques that could make the difference between getting that next promotion or remaining stuck in your current position.
1. Sign Up for Training Courses
Are you working in an entry level position but trying to become knowledgeable and skilled enough to make the next move up the career ladder? Or perhaps you’ve attained a medium-level position, but you want to make the leap to management? Showcasing proficiency in your current job is the first step, but you should also sign up for any applicable training courses that will help prepare you for career advancement.
Keep in mind that a lack of training causes 40 percent of employees to quit their job in less than one year. By seeking out the training you need, you can set yourself apart from the rest of the pack and make sure that you truly want your target position.
2. Utilize Networking
The saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” is extremely accurate, which means that you need to make networking a priority. However, you may not know who in your professional and personal network is best equipped to help you with your career. This is especially true if you are looking to move to a new company or industry.
Fortunately, networking options such as Covve and LinkedIn can help. For example, Covve allows you to search your network for individuals who are connected to industry leaders. This means that you can quickly discover who is in the best position to help you make potentially career altering connections. By using this process, you can save yourself a lot of time and energy during your job hunt.
3. Request a Cross-Functional Project
One thing that companies often look for when making an internal promotion is which employees have demonstrated that they can work well in a team environment. Additionally, workers who have picked up skills from various departments and learned to apply them with reasonable competence will typically be viewed as more promotable than those that only specialize in one specific department or role. If you are not being offered cross-functional work, be sure to request it.
4. Create the Right Online Reputation
Everyone has something in their past that they would rather keep hidden from their current or potential employer. This is the Internet Age, though, which makes it harder than ever to keep your proverbial skeletons locked firmly in a closet. Because there truly is no such thing as privacy on the Internet, you must clean up or even delete any social media profiles that could make you look like an undesirable candidate.
At the same time, don’t become unsearchable because this will seem very suspicious. Instead, present the type of social media image that is best suited for your chosen career path. Also, always remember that 18 percent of companies have fired someone for a social media post, and this number continues to grow each year.
5. Consider Getting a Mentor
The information that you can learn from a mentor is invaluable, and they may also end up being the person to recommend you for a promotion or a new job. Therefore, it makes good sense to seek out someone who has already achieved the type of career success that you are aiming for. Be sure to listen carefully to all of their advice and ask them questions that can help you conquer your fears and other stumbling blocks. Having a mentor will increase your chances of succeeding, and you will also acquire access to a new network of potential future colleagues and employers.
6. Determine Your Strengths and Work with Them
Perhaps you want to change your career path because you are unhappy in your current line of work. You may also have become bored with your position and want to be promoted so that you can take on a new challenge. Before you can figure out which career path will be truly satisfying, it is necessary to determine your personal strengths and interests.
For instance, if you aren’t very organized and don’t have a love for numbers, it doesn’t make sense to look for a career in the bookkeeping field. However, if you have a love for socializing and creating eye-catching imagery, this could make you a natural fit for a marketing or sales position. By tapping into your inner strengths, you can get a clearer image of how to structure your career.
7. Seek Out Honest Feedback
Some people truly aren’t aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and this may make them believe they are qualified for a promotion when they truly aren’t ready yet. Asking your coworkers and supervisors to offer you honest, constructive feedback may not be easy, especially if they point out some weaknesses you don’t know about. In the long run, though, this is one of the best ways to determine your strengths and to have the opportunity to improve your weaknesses. As an added bonus, taking this type of initiative for personal growth may impress your supervisors enough to help you land the next available promotion.
8. Pick a Path and Stick with It
Obviously, everyone needs to make enough money to take care of their basic needs, so you may need to keep a job you don’t enjoy for a while. When it comes to getting a promotion or switching fields, though, it is vital to choose what you want and target all of your efforts toward achieving it. Therefore, if you want to work as the HR leader of a non-profit organization, tailor all of your training and networking toward that specific goal and field. Otherwise, it will be way too easy to end up needlessly spinning your wheels in multiple directions.
9. Read about Your Chosen Field
There are countless websites and blogs that can keep you updated about your desired field and position. However, reading books is one of the best ways to truly absorb a lot of new information that can be put to good use during your daily work tasks or in an interview. Reading has also been proven to make people better thinkers, and this is a quality that many employers are looking for. Although you should also make sure to read something just for fun from time to time, selecting books about your chosen field can help you jumpstart your career.
By putting all of these tips into action, you can have a big impact on the trajectory of your career path. If a new field or company is in the cards, be sure to take full advantage of smartphone apps for job hunters.
Last year, I conducted an independent workplace survey on LinkedIn and received hundreds of responses to the question: "What is the ONE mistake leaders make more frequently than others?"
It obviously struck a chord, as the sentiments of employees across the globe came streaming in, many of them feeling distressed and disengaged.
I am revealing my top findings from this survey, broken down by the eight most common themes. In essence, these are the eight biggest mistakes leaders make that suck the life out of their teams.
Really, no surprise here. Leaders who dominate people, decisions, and processes, lead by fear, and lack vision make this the No.1 mistake. As I have written in the past, micromanaging ultimately derails your team's motivation and creativity.
2. Leading from a position of power or ego.
As it has always been, hubris is the cause of much conflict and grief. As one respondent succinctly puts it:
"Intellectual arrogance is like a termite to some leaders and networks."
Others suggest that know-it-alls who think they have the best ideas and information, and use it to wield power or control, destroy morale.
Some respondents express disdain over leaders unfit to lead, and blame the hiring of decision makers who place such leaders in those positions.
This mistake points to the overarching theme of leaders dismissing the value of their people. They either don't care, don't know how to care, or stopped caring. In essence, it's the leader who thinks anyone is replaceable, and sees employees as "cogs on a wheel" rather than "worthy colleagues" to be treated like business partners in producing excellence.
Quite a few respondents offer great advice to leaders who don't grasp how to properly value employees. Two that stand out for me are:
Identify each person's unique skills and strengths, and use them where they are best suited for business outcomes.
5. Failing to grow themselves as leaders.
One collective sentiment from the study is that certain leaders, at whatever level, may have self-entitlement issues about growing and developing themselves.
Upper management may invest heavily in leadership development for middle and lower management, yet be reluctant to get the same level of training. This despite the fact that leadership issues at the senior level are just as frequent, often causing friction, strain and turnover down the ranks.
Some examples of behavior that cry out for executive-level leadership development:
Low self-awareness -- not knowing oneself.
Communication issues, lacking in two-way feedback.
Ego: having all the answers and not soliciting input.
Notice the correlation between mistake No. 2 (ego-driven leaders) and leaders who want to push the responsibility for leadership development down to lower ranks.
Leaders can compromise their own integrity by becoming too friendly with subordinates. A healthy mutual respect should be the goal of bother superiors and subordinates. Approachability is key, but not at the expense of professionalism.
7. Not providing or receiving feedback.
Since employees are the ones most intimately acquainted to how things are going on in the trenches -- with customers, processes, etc. -- it behooves leaders to gain their tribe's trust by coming to them first for input, buy-in, advice, and strategy.
This fosters a culture of trust, questioning and creativity, where followers feel safe enough to contribute ideas and share concerns that have value and can help resolve situations.
In the survey, respondents cite these common "allergic reactions" to feedback among leaders:
Getting defensive when receiving feedback.
Soliciting "bogus feedback."
Not asking questions when receiving feedback (a sort of emotional "shutdown" stemming from an ego position).
Reacting to feedback by reverting to expertise and knowledge -- giving answers to every question and issue.
For leaders who do give feedback to employees, these are common leader habits cited as being unproductive:
Providing feedback that isn't actionable or doesn't help followers develop.
Assuming the absence of feedback means everything is OK. A sort of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality.
Thinking they know what followers want/need without asking them. Usually, this involves a lot of projection.
It makes sense for leaders to set the stage for teams to operate this way because, on the frontlines, workers have more knowledge of the subject matter than leaders do. As one respondent puts it:
"Leaders fail to tap into frontline intelligence. Involve those who will be affected by the implementation by enlisting their energy and insights, or be left with people asking 'What were they thinking when they rolled this out.'"
In the end, we don't need to demonize the leaders who are the subject of many of these responses; they are humans too, and not out to deliberately destroy the lives of their followers. They should be treated with grace, and also empowered to succeed with the proper development.