Executive business coach Pat Roberts says many people make the mistake of being so happy to land a good job that they take their foot off the accelerator and let the engine idle.
“No-one else will benefit from thinking about your next career move and what you need to do to get there. It’s all up to you. If you’re satisfied to just take home a salary at the end of each month, then you are actively choosing not to stretch yourself to your full potential. And if you do this, how will you ever discover how great you could be?” asks Roberts.
She says the following are red flags that your career isn’t progressing:
- You’ve been doing the same job for as long as you can remember and you have no idea where your career is headed.
- You are bored, uninspired and restless at work. Your current projects or responsibilities don’t interest you and you don’t give it your all.
- You haven’t learnt anything new or felt challenged in a long time.
- There are no opportunities for career development, education or improving your skills.
- You haven’t received a pay raise or a promotion in a long time.
How to take stock of your career
The first step to regaining control of your career is to determine what you want to achieve. Don’t only consider remuneration, but contemplate what type of company you’d like to work for, what role you’d like to be in, how much responsibility you would like and how much flexibility your ideal job would offer.
Once you have considered your career plan and you know what you are aiming for, you should develop an action plan that should cover:
- Education and experience: Consider what you could do to get you closer to achieving your goal. It could be registering to do a course, reading more industry news or offering to take on additional responsibilities.
- Career steps: If you are looking to take on a managerial role, aim to demonstrate your abilities or volunteer to head up projects. It’s important to consider what steps are required for you to achieve your ultimate goal.
- Consider where you want to work: Make a list of companies you would like to work for and research each one. It’s important to know what they look for so you know what you are working towards.
- Utilise your contacts: Consider people you know who work for those companies. Make a spreadsheet of everyone you know who could potentially be an influencer in your career. Divide them into people you should keep in touch with every month, every quarter or every year.
- Network: Find ways to connect with people in an authentic way that will be pleasant or value-adding for the other person. You need to build a powerful group of people who know about you and your skills and who look out for you.
- Go after opportunities: Stay abreast with industry trends and news to ensure that you don’t miss out on any opportunities. Update your LinkedIn profile regularly and apply for jobs or promotions.
“Once you have an action plan, revisit it at least every three months. Keep your goals firmly in mind and continuously compare your performance against your career plan,” advises Roberts.
She adds that you need to be determined in pursuing your plan. “If you haven’t taken at least one active step in your plan each year, then you’re not trying hard enough. Keep doing things that are strategically targeted to move you towards your career goals – and you will get there!”