When you plan a road trip, where do you start? You probably identify your destination first. Then you figure out the best way to get there. Employing this very same methodology can aid in achieving your desired career objectives.
Here are the top four strategies you can deploy to accomplish your professional aspirations:
1. Map out Your Goals
To achieve larger career goals, it’s best to start by breaking them down into smaller, more manageable steps. First, determine where you want to go, and then work backwards from there to create a plan. Be sure to write down specific activities that will lead to your desired end goal.
For instance, let’s say your ultimate ambition is to become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Whether you’re a student or seasoned professional, your action plan probably involves gaining relevant experience. Your next steps could then include enhancing your resume or finding a mentor. As a manager, you might focus on developing leadership skills. Enrolling in a business or leadership program such as Abilitie’s 12-week MBA could also help you quickly progress toward a leadership role.
Breaking down your goals into smaller steps will make them more achievable, and having a roadmap will help you stay focused as you check off your accomplishments and progress. As you accomplish more objectives, you’ll build momentum and confidence along the way.
2. Build Your Professional Network
A strong professional network can accelerate your career goals. According to a LinkedIn global survey, 70% of people found their jobs through their online and in-person connections. These jobs also often bring higher wages or more advanced positions than opportunities found through traditional job boards.
It’s always a good time to start building your professional community, no matter where you are in your career journey. When developing your network, start with what you know. For example, look through your LinkedIn friends for 2nd degree connections you have met and send them a connection request.
You can also easily browse for professional associations on the “group” side of LinkedIn or even Google career meetings in your area — both strategies are effective ways to meet influential figures in your field and stay updated on the latest trends. Once you have over 500 connections on LinkedIn or a foundation of relationships in your area, spend time maintaining those relationships outside and keep in touch as job positions change.
Networking is a two-way street, and you never know what connections could benefit you in the future. Being ready and willing to help others both online and in-person can have significant impact down the line.
3. Find a Mentor
Acquiring guidance from someone who has already accomplished your desired goals is one of the most effective methods for achieving your career goals. Unfortunately, many professionals overlook the benefits of seeking out a mentor, resulting in missed opportunities.
Consider a mentor as a reliable advisor, accountability partner, and career supporter. When searching for the right person, look for professionals you admire and respect, especially those committed to their own professional growth. Consider the following qualities:
- Expertise – Do they have advanced experience in your field?
- Personality – Are they encouraging and supportive?
- Compatibility – Do their values align with yours?
- Availability – Do they have enough time to meet with you?
Once you have identified a mentor, regularly meet with them to gain insight from their experience, receive constructive feedback, and acquire additional motivation. A mentee-mentor relationship is an extraordinary opportunity to have a supportive and experienced ally in your corner.
As you achieve your career goals or your goals change over time, you may have different mentors. Maybe one mentor has leadership experience to advise you on how to become a manager. Another mentor may be a working parent who can share strategies for work-life balance. It’s okay to have more than one mentor during your career, and remember to give back by becoming a mentor yourself.
4. Continue Learning
No matter what your career aspirations are, investing in professional development is an effective strategy to achieve them. Professional development opportunities offer a chance to acquire new skills, refine existing ones, and enhance your professional credibility. This investment also demonstrates your ambition and commitment to continuous growth, which is highly valued by employers in 2023.
Most organizations provide professional development dollars for continuing education, business courses, or conferences. Take full advantage of these resources by identifying classes or programs that can contribute towards your career goals, then present them to your manager for consideration. Make sure to inquire about the terms of your employee education dollars – some companies have an allotted amount per employee, so you may have enough funds for more than one class or training.
Professional credentials do pay off, according to a study by SimpliLearn. Certified professionals are 2.5 times more likely to get a promotion than their non-certified peers. Plus, they have more confidence and get better projects at work. Conferences, workshops, and webinars are some of the most convenient professional development options that can fit easily into a hectic schedule. Within a few hours or days, you can work on your soft skills or stay updated on the latest trends in your field.
Obtaining certifications and other credentials is also an excellent way to boost your resume and advance your career prospects. With the availability of online programs, such as the 12-week MBA, you can earn new credentials while balancing your other commitments.
No matter where you are in your career, you can start working toward your goals. Make a plan and seek the resources that can help you get there. Future you will be glad you did.