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Career

10 Ways To Improve Your Career Prospects

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It’s a tough world out there, especially for Millennials, and getting a job is one of the hardest challenges out there. How do you make yourself stand out against so many other qualified applicants? Even if you have a job, you have to continuously prove yourself capable of handling a big workload so you can work your way up to a promotion. The worst case scenario might be realising you’ve chosen the wrong career, but you’re not qualified for anything else.

Whatever your situation, there is always something you can do to make yourself stand out to your current employer, a potential future employer, or just boost your confidence (and your resume) by learning a new skill, or improving a skill you already have.

1. Network

Whether you’re trying to get into business for yourself, or you’re hoping to work your way up your current industry, one of the best things you can do is talk to people who have already climbed through those hoops. By maintaining professional social networking profiles, talking to others in your industry, participating in forums, and attending networking events, you increase your chances of forging solid connections that can boost your career. Check out any industry networking events in your area and make it a point to attend. At the very least, you can get your name out there and make sure those within your industry know who you are.

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2. Ask for an evaluation

It’s bold and potentially scary, but no one knows your strengths and weaknesses better than your boss. You might not like everything you hear, but take the constructive criticism for what it is, and make a note of where you need to improve.

A supervisor’s point of view is different to that of a tutor, or even a family friend you used to occasionally work for. They can point out where your work ethic may be lacking, where your skills could improve solely to benefit your career, and they could give you advice on how best to progress.

3. Improve your communication

There are so many ways to stay in touch with colleagues and industry contacts: Facebook, email, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, and phone calls, just to name a few. Which means now it’s more important than ever that you work on improving your communication skills.

Are you a clear, and strong, communicator, or are coming off too passive and unsure? What kind of responses do you get? Good communication is essential in the workplace for getting things done. A strong communicator will be able to speak clearly and with confidence, in person and over the phone (or on Skype). It will also help you to shine in future job interviews.

4. Your career is your business

When you’re unemployed, the best way to fight the urge to stay in bed is to treat job hunting as a job in its own right. Get up on time, get dressed, sit at your laptop, and email your resume to as many people as you can until the working day is over. If you want your career to work out for you, then you have to put in the same amount of effort that you would into your own business. The same is true even if you already have a job. Market yourself and make sure you’re the best, most efficient employee you can be.

Then maybe you’ll get that promotion you’ve been working so hard to achieve. Work to improve your skills until you snag your dream job. Let potential employers experience your work first hand by regularly updating your blog. By investing in your skill set while cultivating a solid online reputation through social media and blogs, you can offer a better overall picture of who you are as a person and as an employee.

5. Take a part-time course

Learning a new skill through a part-time degree, online course, or night classes can greatly benefit your career prospects, even if you’re not actively looking for a new job or promotion. Studying part time while maintaining a job will show employers that you have enough drive and motivation to go after something you want. Of course, the degree itself will also help you develop a wide range of skills in addition to learning about the subject itself.

Science and IT fields develop critical thinking skills, which in turn can assist many online entrepreneurs/startup women and men on their journeys and lead them to success. Engineering gives you the skills and confidence to deal with any problems that come your way, which is an invaluable skill for any employee. A business degree will give you a good set of accounting, marketing, finance and leadership skills, which will put you in good standing for a management position.

Credit: Wikimedia

6. Challenge yourself

You’ll never improve your skills if you don’t wander out of your comfort zone every once in awhile. The next time your boss asks for someone to help on a project, volunteer even if you don’t feel particularly confident. The experience will be invaluable to you, and your boss will recognise you as someone who is willing to take on a challenge.

If there aren’t a lot of opportunities like this in your current situation, then challenge yourself by volunteering. The right volunteering role could help you break into a new industry by giving you valuable experience, or help you narrow down your interests so you better know which industry you might try working in next. Volunteering also shows potential employers that you are a selfless person, that you are open to new experiences, and that you have enough drive and motivation to go beyond what is expected of you.

Volunteering is also great way to boost your confidence, meet new people with similar interests, and open your mind up to a world of new possibilities.

7. Make a five year plan

It’s all well and good taking online courses and volunteering, but in order to stay focused on your long-term goals it can help to sit down and write a five year plan. If you’re hoping to end up in a management position one day, a five year plan can outline the steps you need to take to get there. It might include talking to your supervisor, taking an accounting or business course, or volunteering for additional responsibilities.

Anyone looking to start their own business should definitely have a five year plan in place before they even think about making the first step. Your plan should outline how you’re obtaining financing if your savings alone aren’t enough, how much you hope to make in the first year, and whether you’ll need to find a business partner at any point.

However, if you’re just plotting out a plan for a general career progression, then here is some advice for writing it down.

8. Visualize

Much like the five year plan, visualising can help you figure out what you’d like to get out of your career, and how you can get to where you’d like to be. The Secret teachers recommend dream boards of visualisation affirmations to help you narrow down what you’d like to be doing for the rest of your life.

9. Get involved in social media

Social media has helped a lot of us reconnect with old friends, and has made it possible to share treasured memories of our wild university days. But you won’t be grateful for the photographic evidence if your potential employers manage to find it while they’re conducting their research into you. Unless you’ve taken great pains to keep your social life private, chances are your future employer will stumble upon something you don’t want them to see.

One effective way to clean up your online social presence is to make sure all your accounts present a united front. For instance, if you’re a freelance travel writer, create pages that offer portfolio links and post articles about places you’ve visited to demonstrate that you’re actively engaged and interested in your line of work. Again, think about your career as a business and building your “brand” via your online presence.

Of course, there are some things that you will only want to share with friends, so make sure you’ve adjusted the privacy settings on your Facebook posts accordingly.

10. Increase your productivity

Credit: Wikimedia

Be honest: when you’re at work, how much time do you spend taking breaks, checking Facebook, or chatting to colleagues. While breaks and a friendly work environment are important to keep frustration at bay, too much of these things can make you a less productive worker. Procrastination won’t just negatively affect your job performance, but if you’re looking for a career or job change, it will stop you being as focused and on the ball as you need to.

So find ways to overcome any procrastination habits you may have got into, and replace them with more productive ones. Leave the social media checks for after work, and instead check your emails. Save any in depth debate about your favourite TV show with your colleagues for lunch breaks.

 

By doing these ten things, you’ll be sure to improve your career prospects! Keep working hard to be the best you can be.