Professional Development

A career coach explains how to get ahead in your career

Written by Guest Contributor

Our lives and careers are inseparably connected. Life cannot be happy and satisfying without one’s career also being fulfilling. That’s why we tend to undergo a constant race for a better job and impressive career growth. But where’s the finish line? Or is it an ongoing race that never ends? 

It is natural to feel frustrated about the non-stop hustle and competition in trying to get ahead in your career. At the same time, this challenge is an essential aspect of building a career in our modern era. All you need to do is manage the hustle and optimize the struggle so that it benefits you.  

Here are a few tips you can utilize to make the race manageable, optimized, and profitable as you strive to get ahead in your career. 

Know where you are going

Why does the struggle for career growth so often seem like a rat race? For too many people, this is mostly due to a lack of clarity and direction. 

Many people have never taken stock of their present career situation, much less clearly laid out goals and created a plan of action for their career progress. 

Take time to ask yourself a few important questions about your work life: 

  • Do I enjoy the work I am doing? 
  • Why do I hate going to work every morning? 
  • Do I hate my boss? If so, why?
  • If I don’t like the kind of job I am doing, what do I really want to do? 

All these questions can be difficult to ask. But the practice of asking them (and finding answers) is essential for gaining clarity and direction in your work and career trajectory. 

You must know where you are now, and where you are heading.

Maintain an updated resume & LinkedIn profile

One way of maintaining a clear picture of your career life is by telling your story on paper. And that’s exactly what your resume and LinkedIn profile can do for you. We all know that we should keep that information current. But more often than not, what ends up happening is the same old last-minute scrambling to update that resume and LinkedIn profile just before an opportunity knocks.

It is a damaging practice. 

Your story is dynamic, which means it is always changing…so, the same should be true of your resume and LinkedIn profile. Keep updating and tweaking and even recreating your story as you keep growing, learning, and changing. It will help prepare you to face any unforeseen challenges and embrace new opportunities. Moreover, frequently going through and updating your resume can also offer the much-needed clarity that we were talking about in the previous section. 

Do not hesitate to seek help from a professional resume and Linkedin profile writing services if you need it. 

Utilize an accomplishment journal

Keeping a journal of your everyday wins and achievements can be an eye-opening practice. It will keep you motivated each day to do your best and offer you an analytical perspective on all of your activities. 

With this journal, you can discover a few things about yourself:

  • What kinds of tasks do you perform best?
  • In which skills do you tend to outperform others? 
  • What kind of tasks do you enjoy the most? 

All these self-discovery questions can be answered once you start taking notes on your work and career accomplishments. 

On another note, you will always have information to put on your resume and LinkedIn. 

Win, win!

Keep reviewing your accomplishments, and you will learn more about your strengths and weaknesses. If your accomplishments don’t feel satisfying to you, consider changing your career track. Maybe it’s time to talk to a career coach for advice on possible courses of action. 

Set realistic work goals

There’s no better way to manage the race and struggle for career progression than with effective goal setting. Take the time to regularly set both short-term and long-term career goals. Practical goal setting can turn that eternal rat race into beautiful little achievable “mini races” that you feel excited about winning. How much can you realistically accomplish in a day, a week, a month, and a year? 

Plan accordingly. 

Also, remember that not all of your goals will be fulfilled. Life rarely follows our perfectly laid-out plans. Prepare for setbacks and keep recalibrating your goals and plans in real-time.  

Keep leadership and colleagues in the loop

Although it might not often feel like it, we are all in this together. Many professionals make the mistake of looking at work as an “us vs. them” scenario between employees and supervisors, or “me vs. them” where they compete against their co-workers. In the vast majority of situations, though, the more you work in unison with others, the more progress each individual in the team will make. And the symbiotic relationship that results can be a beautiful thing.

Keep your boss and colleagues aware of your career-related goals and plans. Accept help from them as much as you can. Periodically ask them for effective feedback to keep your work style proactive and cutting-edge. As your managers and colleagues notice your sincerity to share and collaborate for collective growth, they will also try their best to support you in your journey. 

Don’t forget to file all the developments in your accomplishment journal as you move ahead. 

Expand your skills

Even if you are doing everything right and growing according to general expectations, there’s no rule that says you can’t grow faster and even better. 

Look for creative ways to expand your skill set. 

  • What other skills closely relate to your core skills? 
  • What new skills can you learn that are needed in your career field?
  • Where is the industry headed and what practical things can you learn to better position yourself as a leader in the future?

Try to expand in those areas so you can hasten the process of increased duties and promotions. Take classes and courses. Chat with other departments and become a listener and a learner to become more well-rounded. If you have time, you can even offer to assist a colleague with a project and learn their trade in the meantime. 

There are no limits to how much you can learn and grow, so make the most of your opportunities to hone your skills and gain some new ones. 

Closing Thoughts

In conclusion, these motivating words from Dale Carnegie sum things up nicely:

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed no hope at all.” 

That’s how it often is with career growth. Even when there are few signs indicating the best direction for getting ahead in your career, there are steps you can take.

  1. Keep striving for progress where you are.
  2. Know where you are headed, and make concrete plans for getting there.
  3. Let your boss and colleagues know about your career goals.
  4. Seek ways to increase your responsibilities.
  5. Take steps regularly to expand your skills.

All these are great ways to get ahead in your career, and find more fulfillment in your work life overall.

About the Author:
Heather Lewis is a certified Career Coach at Find My Profession. She has over 10 years of experience with sourcing, recruiting, interviewing, training, and managing. She specialized in staffing and hiring, on the corporate, agency, and RPO side. In her spare time, she loves to travel, hike, and paddleboard.

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Guest Contributor