If you are serious about your career, you cannot afford to allow your employer to limit you in terms of career opportunities. If you work for an employer who is interested in your career development and is grooming you for advancement, that is a great advantage. But if you are not that fortunate, you cannot be a bystander when it comes to your own growth and development.
Here are some things that you can do even outside of work that will move your career forward:
1) Invest in Yourself. Keep your skills up to date in your current position and let your boss know about any new certifications or licenses that you have obtained. Staying abreast of what is current in your field positions you well as a valuable employee, and it also makes you marketable just in case your job is eliminated. Read want ads to find out what skills or qualifications are mentioned as being preferred. Then take the required steps to obtain these skills and qualifications.
2) Become an Expert in Your Industry. Professionals who want to be viewed as experts in their fields can demonstrate their expertise by presenting at professional association meetings and getting published in professional journals and/or the general media. Also, receiving a patent says something about a professional’s level of expertise. You can open more doors for yourself by positioning yourself as an expert.
3) Keep up with your network. Most people find their jobs through someone that they know. By not maintaining contact with people in your network, you are excluding yourself from career possibilities. It is possible that you will remain stalled in your career if you do not make an active effort to stay in touch with your network and let them notify you of opportunities.
4) Find a mentor. It’s always helpful to have a professional support system. We need a support system in our personal lives, and we need a support system in our professional lives. A mentor can give you encouragement when you run into difficulties in your career and cheer you on even when you do not feel like going on. And this person can give you much needed perspective. In addition, having a great mentor can boost your professional network. This person can introduce you to others in his or her network, and those connections can be invaluable. There will be people who will take time for you because both you and they are connected to your mentor.
5) Join and become active in a professional association. By joining a professional association, you can get to know people in your profession who can potentially help you advance your career. Also, by joining a professional association you will become current with the issues in your field. You can take advantage of the information presented in the professional journal and attend the association meetings. This is another means of engaging in continuing education.