It’s important to keep up with your career management. As a woman, this is even more critical in order to fully realize your true potential and earn what you are worth. With glass ceilings, unequal pay, and minimal representation in leadership roles, who needs to add “unhappy worker” to the list of issues facing women in the workplace?
Managing your career well means loving what you do, or finding out what you would love to do and going for it. Maybe you are already in love with your career. Are you often excited to start your work day? Are you using your strongest skills on a daily basis? Do you work in an environment that complements your personality? Do you work for a company that reflects your values? If you answered yes to these questions, you are likely already in a job or career that you enjoy. Congratulations for finding your way!
Here are five ways to keep the flame alive:
- Be accountable to yourself.Give yourself an annual career audit. Are you exactly where you want to be right now? If not, what’s not happening? Where do you want to be in a few years? Do you need to implement changes to your role, your title, or your career path to get where you are going?
- Don’t forget to think ahead.Even when things are going well, you should think about where you want to be in three to five years, and what it will take to get you there. There are always actions you can take now that can lay a foundation for your next steps.
- Keep things fresh.It’s important to stay up-to-date in your field. Some of the best ways to do this are attending conferences, joining a professional association, reading up on trends, and finding places to engage with like-minded professionals (for example, an industry group on LinkedIn or Facebook).
- Network, network, network. No one gets far in their career by going it alone.Implementing a consistent practice of networking allows you to build a group of supporters, reach out to industry experts, and enhance your credibility. People often think about networking only when they need a new job, but it’s best to make networking a regular activity to increase the chances that you will have a support system in place when you need it.
- Build your online presence and authority.In today’s world of work, an online presence is a necessity. At the most basic level, make sure your online profiles are complete and up-to-date, and that they convey the right message. If you want to take it a step further, actively create and share content about your area of expertise for online consumption.
It’s great if you are happy in your job, but not everyone loves their career. Sometimes it takes a little time and a few experiences to find the best match for your interests, personality, values, and strengths. If you don’t love what you are doing right now, here are some steps to get you moving in the right direction.
- Ask yourself why you feel the way you do.Take some time for reflection to understand what’s working and what’s not working. Is it your job, your boss, the workplace, or the field? You may need to address one or more of these issues. Have you become bored, or is your stress level rising to an unmanageable level? Find the real root of the problem before taking corrective action.
- Look for a better place.If your boss, the workplace, or the employer is the issue, your best option may be to get out of that situation. However, it’s always wise to have your next position in place before leaving your current one. Brush up your résumé, begin catching up with your contacts, and start planning your exit strategy and researching new opportunities.
- Take initiative to discover your true self. If the issue isn’t just your boss or workplace, you likely need to take a step back and evaluate your strengths, values, personality, interests, and skills to move your career in a new and positive direction. Hiring a career coach and taking some assessments, like StrengthsFinder 2.0, may help, or you can read some books to determine a good career fit. Two excellent books for this are What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles, and Do What You Are by Paul Tieger, Barbara Barron, and Kelly Tieger.
- Find ways to have fun outside of work.It is important not to let a bad job taint your attitude about the rest of your life. After all, it is just a job. There is so much more to life than work. Purposefully plan time for fun activities with people who are positive and supportive.
- Record your past successes.Write down stories of proud accomplishments from your life. They can be from experiences other than work, such as volunteer roles or passion projects. Look for themes within the stories to discover what you do well consistently over time. These records will help in any future career change or job search, and they will also give you an emotional boost because they remind you of what you are capable of accomplishing.
Advancing in a career you love or finding a new one might take effort, but it’s worth it. Life is too short, and too many hours are spent at work to be miserable. Following these tips will help you ignite, and maintain, your passion for your career.