Building a successful career is a tremendous personal challenge but is rewarding in so many ways. Achieving career success over a lifetime not only comes with financial benefits, but it can also leave you with a wonderful sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. Consider these five career success tips to help you move forward in the working world.
Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Career success articles use many different angles when providing advice, but they almost always include a variation of the philosopher's ancient maxim: Know thyself.
Start with a list of the things you do best. It can be a mental list or, even better, write them down to help cement the memory. Perhaps you're a spreadsheet expert who really knows how to crunch the numbers and make them look pretty. Or your strength might be more in the types of personal connections you make with your fellow workers, helping to build teamwork. Make the list as long and as complete as you can. This is no time to be modest.
Conversely, be honest about weaknesses. Afraid of public speaking? Add it to the list. If new technologies get you flustered, write that down as well.
Advance Your Skills
With your strengths and weaknesses noted, set some personal priorities for advancing your skills. This can mean making your strong suits even stronger. It can also mean building up strengths and skills in areas you consider a weakness.
A stint with Toastmasters might help you overcome that fear of public speaking. Your workplace might offer training in advanced spreadsheet skills and if not, courses are certainly available elsewhere.
You can't tackle everything at once, of course, which means setting some priorities, and that leads to the next bit of advice.
Understand the Company
Your personal career priorities for self-improvement should jibe with the goals and culture of the firm you work for. If your company is seriously into a six-sigma system of lean optimization, then consider becoming a Kaizen expert. If the CEO just announced a major commitment to improved customer service, then start polishing your CRM skills. And if you have no idea what Lean or Kaizen or CRM means, then it's time to learn. If they're important to your company, they should be important to you
Understand Your Boss
Your company's goals represent the big picture, but on a day-to-day basis, your immediate supervisor is the person you answer to the most. Learn your boss' objectives and frustrations and find the ways you can best assist him or her in reaching goals and overcoming obstacles.
Some facets of this can seem trivial. If the copy machine is always breaking and you're the one who knows how to get it going again, your boss will likely take note. However, it's the major workplace successes that carry the most weight. If the boss is under the gun to finish a major company project by the end of the fiscal year, everything you can do to help bring the project to completion will add to your esteem and help advance your career.
Demonstrate Your Worth
Make sure your contributions are well-known in your immediate work area and, more broadly, throughout your organization. If your group hands out gold medals or some other sort of annual award, lobby to get yourself in the running. Speak up at meetings, even when you're in the back of the room rather than at the main table.
If your worth is known only to your boss, that can actually hinder your career, as they may value you so much as to not want you to advance into another position. Make yourself known to your boss' boss, to other senior managers, and even to those outside your organization who may be able to open career doors for you in the future.