Self-awareness is key to personal and professional development. In this article, you will find a series of tips and accompanying self-assessments to help you advance in your career.
- Know who you are and know what you want
You can only achieve your goals if you know what those goals are. What would you like to achieve in 2 and 5 years’ time in your professional life? Most importantly, what do you need to achieve in the next year in order to realize those 2- and 5-year professional goals?
- Tell people what you want
It’s easier to achieve your shorter as well as longer term goals if your environment supports you. Share your goals with your manager and colleagues. Tell your husband, your partner and friends what you want to achieve in the next year. What support do you need from them? Think about it and ask for that support.
- Create your stakeholder map
Every now and then it’s a good idea to create your career stakeholder map. This should include all the people who have an influence on your future professional goals. You need to think about how much influence they have on your career, how strong your relationship with them is and how they can support you.
- Build your network
A strong and diverse network is invaluable to a successful career and requires intentional effort to build. Commit to applying the following tactics to develop your most effective network:
- Create & regularly update a list of people whom you would like to have in your network
- Leverage your existing connections. Regular lunches or coffees with people you already know and whose insights and experiences you value can often lead to new opportunities
- Build a network for creating better business results as well as for your career
- Build your networks before you need them
- Focus on mutually beneficial relationships
- Schedule time for building your network
- Remember to build your network face-to-face, virtually and through social media platforms such as LinkedIn
- Find a sponsor/ mentor
It’s easier to succeed if you have support. Identify a colleague, ideally one in a more senior position, who knows and appreciates your work. You may want to have more than one sponsor/mentor for different aspects of your career. Set up regular meetings with this person.
A sponsor is someone who actively supports your career by introducing you to the right people as well as putting you forward for challenging assignments and career advancement.
A mentor is someone who has a lot of knowledge in certain areas (e.g. your technical field, leadership, networking, etc.), transfers some of her or his knowledge and gives you advice as to how you can develop in these areas.
Sponsors can make a bigger difference to one’s career but may be more difficult to find.
- Work smarter not harder
Put in the effort, volunteer for challenging assignments, show your talent. This doesn’t mean you have to take on everything, being able ‘to say no’ at the right time is also part of working smart.
- Communicate your achievements
It’s unfair, but your work doesn’t speak for itself. Commitment and excellent performance are necessary but not sufficient for being noticed and/ or promoted. Make sure your boss and colleagues know about your own and your team’s success stories. Informal and formal meetings, newsletters, blog posts, emails and social media are some of the communication channels you should use to make sure that all important stakeholders know about your achievements. It’s not bragging, it’s keeping people informed and up to date.
- Keep learning
Being current and having a learning mindset are essential for future leaders. Be pro-active, make use of opportunities your company offers but also look for external resources, whether they are courses, books, articles, websites, social media forums, conferences, meet-up groups or other avenues for learning. Build learning into your schedule. Do it regularly and do it often.
My Career Audit
Having and sharing career goals can have a big impact on everyone’s advancement. State your level of agreement with the following statements and identify what should be your next steps.