There’s nothing wrong with settling in to a job you like, but if you feel that you’re in a slump, underpaid, undervalued or just plain in the wrong place, then the time has come to push for an advance in your career.
Such an advance could take a number of forms — a promotion, a new job or an entirely new career path, to name a few. Only you can decide what changes need to be made in your career, and these steps will help you to improve your prospects along the way.
1. Start With Research
The word “research” is off-putting to many, but in truth career research isn’t as difficult or awful as it may sound. To improve your career prospects, you must first decide what it is you’re shooting for, then look in the right places to learn how to reach the goals you’ve set.
Here are a few resources that will be great allies in this endeavor:
- Yourself. Always start by asking yourself what it is you want. Challenge yourself to find the right fit — not just an “okay” one.
- Glassdoor. Glassdoor is a great resource for seeing what real employees get paid in your area. And employee reviews can give you legitimate insight into a company’s culture before you sign on.
- Business Media. Business media sources like Forbes Magazine and The Punched Clock Newsletter offer a wide variety of research and career advice — from topics like “top paying jobs for 2017” to “how to be more productive at work.”
- Career Coaches. If you’re struggling to boost your career single-handedly, hiring a career coach may be worth a try. Coaches today offer services small and large, so whether you want a simple resume critique, some interview advice or even guidance from a few free webinars, you’re likely to find it after a little persistent Googling.
When that dreaded “R” word threatens to discourage you, just remember — research is your friend, not your enemy.
2. Get Proactive
Nothing in your career is going to change if you don’t fight for what you want. Yes, there are such things as annual work evaluations that may result in a slight raise, but studies have shown that getting proactive is far more effective than waiting for opportunities to come to you.
Depending on your current status and goals, this might mean…
- Asking for a raise
- Asking for more responsibilities or bigger projects
- Asking for an evaluation from your boss
- Creating your own projects
- Networking outside your comfort zone
- Fighting for a position you want
Whatever it is you need to get proactive about, bring your research. Asking for a raise? Bring your findings from Glassdoor and be ready to prove that you deserve it. Applying for a job that seems beyond your experience level? Need to increase your credibility online? Focus on curating industry-related articles on your social media platforms. Use those business media resources to learn how to present a good elevator pitch — and make it your own.
3. Test Your Skills as a Volunteer
If you’re struggling with direction or experience, volunteering is a fantastic way to get moving in the right direction. When you volunteer, you reap amazing benefits — both personally and professionally:
- You gain field experience.
- You narrow down what you do and don’t like about the type of work you’re pursuing.
- You help others while learning more about the field you’ve chosen.
- You’re less likely to be stressed.
- You’re more likely to feel healthier and fulfilled.
- You’re more likely to improve your interpersonal skills.
All of these benefits make you a stronger worker, and — even better — they help you to gain a sense of purpose. With such quality assets on your side, you can pursue your career goals with a fresher, more determined mentality.
4. Budget Your Resources
Whenever you’re trying to improve any aspect of your life — whether it’s boosting your career, getting in better shape or learning a new skill — your need to be able to rally when the chips are low.
In other words, making a major change takes time, motivation, persistence and, often, money. It’s crucial that you budget all of these resources wisely.
Take your finances, for instance. Whether you’re job hunting, working toward promotion or searching for a more promising career altogether, budgeting your funds wisely means having savings to fall back on.
Without the added stress of having no savings, you can perform better professionally. And if, say, you’re interviewing for a new position, you can rest easier during the time in between jobs.
As for your other resources — your time, your talents, your interests, your passions and your sparkling personality — they’re always at your disposal, and it’s important that you regularly remind yourself of that fact.
Go for Gold
Again, large-scale improvements like career advancements don’t happen overnight. And somewhere down the road, your mind might try and trick you into thinking that it’s too late, that you’re talentless or that you have nothing to offer the professional world.
But you can rally from this. Armed with your research, your talents and the right attitude, you can overcome those fears. When a doubt kicks in, reinvest your time and talents into a project that reminds you just how much you do have to offer. Then continue fighting for the career boost you want.