14 Strategies for Finding Your Career Groove
Feeling stuck, frustrated or less than satisfied as you look back at your career over the last year? Consider adopting a more proactive outlook. Perhaps it’s time to enlist support from a career coach, explore emerging opportunities in your industry, sign up for a social media workshop or attend a professional Meet-up or networking event?
Renee Peterson Trudeau, a career and life balance coach, award-winning author and president of Austin-based Career Strategists which offers free monthly career management tips at www.CareerStrategists.net, shares 14 ways that are sure to make a positive impact on your career. "But don’t be too hard on yourself," Trudeau warned. “If you just implemented one of these strategies, you’d be way ahead of the game,” she said. “It would make a huge impact on your career plan and trajectory.”
1. Have a career plan and vision for where you’re headed. If you don’t, you will find yourself in the exact same place a year from now, said Trudeau. “Most people just stumble into the next phase of their career,” she said. “But if you just pause and step back to reflect on what you really want and consider getting some support, whether that is from a mentor or professional organization or career strategist, it lets you be more strategic about where you want to head and what it will take to get you there.”
2. If you’re considering a change — don’t wait, start exploring options now. On average, it takes two years to make a complete career change, said Trudeau. “If you are considering a change, start taking action now, even if that action is small such as an informational interview with someone who is already working in the job you think you want,” she said. “People go into paralysis and think they have to have their whole plan in front of them when in reality, if they just start taking baby steps, it gives them the momentum for where they want to go.”
3. Keep up with technology. Keeping up with technology is essential to staying marketable and being seen as valuable and efficient on the job, said Trudeau. “We are in a technology based culture and things are moving fast,” she said. “It’s essential you know how to use the tools of your profession. The best way to keep abreast of new technology. Tap into your tech-savvy friends", suggested Trudeau.
4. Ask for what you want at work. Most employees don’t get raises or promotions because they never ask for them. “Most people get very stuck and stagnant at work, but in our experience working with clients, if you get a clear plan together, 80 percent of the time, you get what you want,” said Trudeau.
5. Know yourself and how you’re wired. Do you know how you like to absorb information, lead, and make decisions? “Self awareness is one of the most powerful tools in terms of managing your career, but most people are very deficit in this area,” said Trudeau. “They don’t take the time to invest in themselves.” Various books, courses, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessments can help you gain a heightened self-awareness, she said.
6. Stay current in your field and keep your professional skills sharp. Do you regularly participate in training and professional development opportunities? Do you read the trade journals and attend professional conferences in your field or industry? When was the last time you did an informational interview with a senior level professional or mentor in your field to find out if you’re on track professionally? These are key questions Trudeau suggested asking yourself. “It keeps you marketable,” she said. “It keeps your ability to demand a competitive salary. And it helps you remain current in your profession.”
7. Build a support network. Trudeau said one of the biggest mistakes professionals make is allowing themselves to lose touch with what’s going on outside of their company and in their current marketplace. She suggested getting professional support from a career coach or business advisor. “Most people have a really hard time asking for help—we are used to being super independent, which has a lot of benefits, but it really doesn’t serve you in your career,” she said. “Really successful people have very robust support networks.”
8. Cultivate a big picture perspective. Trudeau suggested asking yourself these questions: Do you have a sense about what the biggest challenges your company and industry are facing? Are you aware of current trends, emerging technologies, best practices and areas of opportunity and growth locally, nationally and internationally? Do you know what the next “big thing” will be in your industry or field? “This is a global economy,” she said. “Having a deeper understanding of what you do and how it fits into the larger picture brings more value to your company.”
9. Know what you do best and leverage your brilliance. For career sustainability, Trudeau said it’s imperative that you keep asking and exploring. "Ask yourself, ‘What am I naturally gifted at?’ and ‘Where are my strengths most applicable and valued?’” she said. “This will increase your marketability and long-term career satisfaction immensely because it allows you to leverage those strengths within a company.” Leveraging your brilliance is incredibly powerful when it comes to creating career success. Trudeau suggested finding out the three things you do really well. “Ideally, you should be doing those three things at least 80 percent of the time,” she said.
10. Make balance a priority. A balanced professional is a more creative, innovative and productive professional, according to Trudeau. “Take time to fill your cup first,” she said. “Self-care is not about self-indulgence, it’s about self-preservation.” Trudeau said if you know what feeds you and what drains you — and you are able to say “no” to non-essential activities and be conscious about how you manage and direct your energy — it will enhance your work/life alignment. “Balance is about having enough time, energy and resources for what matters most to you,” she said.
11. Get your financial house in order. Having a grasp on your financial state is directly related to your career success, said Trudeau. Taking inventory of your debts, living expenses, income and assets will allow you to make conscious choices about how to live and spend. “Most people are not empowered around their finances,” she said. “When you take time to get your financial house in order, it makes you feel more empowered and helps you in career planning or when making a career change.”
12. Track your professional accomplishments. When it comes to your professional accomplishments, Trudeau suggested singing your own praises. “Tracking your professional accomplishments and then communicating them in a monthly recap is something I recommend doing on a regular basis,” she said. “This has a huge impact on your visibility within a company and your ability to receive new opportunities. You can’t go in and ask for a raise without taking time to track and communicate your professional achievements.”
13. Network intentionally. Cheesy networking is out, and authentic connections and relationship building are in, said Trudeau. “We must approach networking from a win-win mindset,” she said. “It’s not just about what is in it for me, but how can we support one another’s work?” Networking authentically is about having a larger, more holistic perspective on relationship building, according to Trudeau. And in a place like Austin, networking opportunities are abundant. Trudeau highly recommended reading The Intentional Networker, penned by local business networking and referral attraction strategist Patti DeNucci.
14. Do it differently. When we stretch, try new things and get out of our comfort zone—whether through attending a public speaking seminar, going to a fiction writer’s conference, learning Portuguese or taking a new route to the office—we create new neural pathways in the brain. “Doing it differently,” and stepping out of our habitual ways of being helps breathe new life into our work, shifts our outlook and helps us feel more alive.
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