We have coached many clients to help them find more fulfillment and success in their work. As you might expect, each client defines meaning and success differently, so the coaching process has different parameters for each person: it could involve negotiating different responsibilities in a current role, leaving a job, changing careers, or making larger-scale life changes toward entirely new ways of living and working. Whatever the situation, if you are motivated to be more successful in your career, think about these 10 career success strategies:
Plan ahead and think about what you want.
Do you know what you want in the next year, 5 years and 10 years in your career? If you don’t have a career development plan in place, create one. Include upward moves, lateral moves, and any additional skills, education or certifications you want to acquire. Having an idea of your future destination increases the chances of actually getting there.
Assess your skills and strengths.
What skills do you use in your current role? What other skills do you have? Which of these are transferrable to other roles or industries? How would you summarize what strengths you bring to leadership, managing others, or to working with a team? Ask colleagues and friends for feedback. Then – take a course, read a book, or hire a coach to start to improve your skills and add new ones.
Understand how you work best.
A behavioral work style assessment is a great tool to understand what types of people and organizations are most suited to your style, and what strategies you can implement to be more effective in situations where your natural strengths do not shine. A career coach will offer assessments to help you understand your natural work style.
Know your work values.
Values define what is most important to you. They are the basis by which you make decisions, and form the motivations behind your work. When your values are not aligned with the values of your organization/team, you feel frustrated. There may be cultural differences, differences in environmental philosophies, or work ethic issues. Whatever the case, aligning your core work values with your career is vitally important to long-term job success. What values are most important to you, and how can you prioritize those in your career?
Cultivate your leadership style.
A leadership style is less about your needs, and more about how well you succeed in your organization. Whether you are an experienced leader or just starting out in your career, having a recognizable leadership style will allow you to achieve maximum effectiveness at work. Get to know different leadership styles, and when they are used most effectively. Understand what style feels the most authentic to you, and actively work to stretch into the styles you find harder.
Develop your professional brand image.
Your professional brand is the outward image and style of who you are. It is reflected in how you communicate, act, and dress. It conveys a powerful message to those around you. If your professional brand isn’t on par with your colleagues, or doesn’t match the career you are moving into, take steps to change it. That could include a more professional style if you are moving upwards in a corporate career, or a more casual style if you are moving to a non-profit or education, for instance.
Refine your social media presence.
Social media tools are not necessarily good or bad. Like any tool, they can be beneficial or detrimental depending on how you use them. To use social media to your advantage, setup a professional Linkedin account. On the flip side, be aware of how social media can hurt you, and limit your exposure. Employers will research potential employees, so disable or remove any negative social networking posts.
Cultivate your professional network.
Your professional network is the community that can give you access to information, contacts, and jobs. The key is to develop the network before you need it. Actively build a network of peers in your current field, and in any field you are considering for a lateral move. Linkedin is a great tool to make online connections. In addition, find professional associations and networking groups that align with your career interests.
Find a mentor.
A mentor is a person with more experience in business, or simply in life, who can advise you on career development as well as navigating new work challenges. Seek out a mentor who is a good fit with your career goals- someone who is at least 5-10 years ahead of you. A mentor who aligns with your work values and has had a similar career path would be ideal.
The big picture of where your career is headed can be difficult to see clearly. The key to navigating any long-term goal is to break the goal down into small action steps with short time frames. What is one thing you can do this week to move your career-thinking forward a notch? Take an assessment, seek out new professional connections, or enroll in a course. Taking action will get you on the path towards successfully creating your ideal career path.