No, Your Career Can't Be on Autopilot.
Ok I know you’re hungover and your boss is being a pill and your cubie mate keeps closing that drawer… in THAT way… but you gotta focus. On you. Yup. Like every day man.
If you’re cruising along thinking that careers just grow, blossom and ‘work out’ on their own - it’s wake up call time. Your career is like that nifty succulent on your desk. It doesn’t need to be replanted every day, but it does need care, attention and water. Are you drinking enough water by the way?
What I’m getting at here, is that your career is your job. You have to work at it… at work. Make sense? You gotta drive this boat. You gotta do this thing - and the best way is to do it little by little.
One goal. One action. Each day.
1. Network like crazy.
I don’t care what industry you work in, what role you have, what your goals are -- you HAVE TO network. There are so many ways to network - find one that works for you. Totally online? Fine. Only in person? Great. Speed networking at hyper specific conferences? You do you. Just do something.
Also be sure to choose a consistent action like take out 1 person for coffee a month, or ask for 2 informational interviews per week, or email 1 industry insider each day. Still unsure where to start? Here’s more networking advice for ya!
2. Follow one industry leader, innovator or insider each day on some social platform.
LinkedIn is fantastic obviously, but Twitter and Insta can be great too. Especially if you’re in a creative field. But wait… there’s more! Don’t be a passive lurker. Interact with them.
Get to know them and they’ll get to know you. You’ll be surprised what kind of mentorship and opportunity can come from being actively engaged on socials.
3. Have one priority to-do.
What do you need to accomplish at work/in your job search/job growth/career learning each day that needs your attention but has a habit of getting shuffled to the back burner?
Start each day by knocking out one to-do. If it’s a big project at work, maybe you hop on it before you even look at your emails. If it’s a class that you’re taking, how about booking a conference room for 30 mins and completing a module before lunch?
Spend a few minutes each week researching your industry and your role. Check out industry news, research your company’s competitors, hit up Comparably and research your salary, research how/what tech will be changing your role.
Information and learning are key to growing. You can’t cut a path to your career if you don’t know the landscape.
5. Get on the calendar.
Here’s one you only need 2 minutes to do. Today. Book some time on your manager’s calendar talk to her about your goals. Don’t wait for review time. Ask how you can proactively grow in your role. Ask for active mentorship.
Unless you are vocal your manager may have NO IDEA that you want more. They might be so buried in their own deliverables lists that they aren’t paying attention to the fact that you haven’t taken on more responsibility since last year. Your manager should want to help you grow - if they are resistant, they may not be the best manager for you.
6. Sign yourself up to learn a new transferrable skill.
It could be software, hardware, communications, leadership… almost anything. Ask HR if there is a company Learning & Development program.
Or maybe they reimburse some tuition? Or they’ll let you expense that one online course. If no, find something you’re itching to learn, that grows your skills list and find a class you can afford and register yourself ASAP.
7. This year's goal.
Write down one thing you want to accomplish in your career/on the job in the remainder of this year (which is zooming up quick btw!). Then after your big, fat, juicy thing - write down all the teeny, tiny things it’s going to take to get done.
When you see it laid out in bite sized steps it stops seeming so overwhelmingly large and wayyyyyy more doable. Now put some time on your calendar, daily, to get those small steps done.
8. Next year's goal.
Write down one thing you want to accomplish in the beginning of next year. Then follow the same process as your end-of-year project and make a plan to get. It. done.
Read. Read more. And then read something else. It can be books, articles, magazines, journals… whatever is relevant for your industry and even some things that aren’t. Have you seen the 80’s opus Working Girl? If not, go do it now. Because Tess works her way to the top by reading - and being smart enough to put the pieces together. Also… you can just watch it for the hair.
Every week do some updating of your LinkedIn, resume and portfolio. There’s a few reasons. A) When you are ready to jump ship you’ll be all good to go. B) When you do decide to job hunt, you won’t tip off your boss. Nothing is more of a red flag than an employee who suddenly has an updated profile. C) This will help you keep track of your latest/greatest accomplishments so that when you talk to management about that raise it will be all right there.
Want a free cheatsheet to help you out? Get a copy of “Make Your LinkedIn Work for You: Top 10 Recruiter Approved LinkedIn Musts” below!
None of these actions take a ton of work, but they do take action. Actions need action. Get it? See what I did there? All kidding aside, take the tiny steps and they will lead to some major career growth!
Yours in career goodness,