Overcoming challenges and learning new things makes a career fulfilling. That's why it's so frustrating to feel like you’ve reached a dead-end in your job. The reality is that you can’t always depend on your company for career advancement. Often, it’s up to you to find ways to grow.
In this article, we’ll highlight the four best tactics to boost your career and take a look at how starting a business can offer more growth.
1. Ask for Feedback
One of the best ways to grow in your career is to ask for feedback from your manager. Constructive criticism can be hard to hear, but getting an idea of where you excel and where you need to improve is an effective way to advance in your career.
Here are steps to follow so you can get much-needed feedback in the workplace.
Set up an appointment with your manager.
The first thing you’ll have to do is schedule a time with your manager for a performance review. Ask them directly when they’re not busy (for example: after work) or send them an email to set up an appointment.
Make sure to let them know why you want to meet and set up an appointment in a couple days time to give them room to think about your performance and where you can improve.
During your interview, avoid asking vague questions. Asking “Am I doing all right?" won’t be enough if you want to learn how you can improve.
Instead, focus on asking specific questions that will give you actionable steps so you can do better. Questions you can ask include:
- What can I do differently next quarter?
- What skills should I develop to progress in this role?
- How can I be more helpful to you and other team members?
Record your feedback.
As your manager responds to these questions and gives you feedback, make sure to take notes on everything they say. You can transcribe your notes into a document that you can update on an ongoing basis. This will also give you a record that you can use to negotiate a salary increase at your next annual review.
If you do get complaints about your performance, don’t let it tear you down — it’s fine to make mistakes in your career from time to time. Instead, interpret it as an opportunity for career growth and improvement.
2. Develop New Skills Outside Your Work
When you’ve been doing your job for years, your daily tasks become familiar to you, which is why it’s vital to focus on building new skills outside the office. By learning more, you’ll be able to keep up with current trends in your industry and find better ways to do your job. Here’s how you can do it.
Look at enrolling in online courses in something that interests you.
If you have a busy job with a tight schedule, it’s likely you don’t have time to go back to school and get another degree.
But from your laptop, you can access online resources that help you learn new skills from the comfort of your own home on your own schedule. The best online platforms you can use to grow your career include:
- Udemy: When you join Udemy, you’re getting access to more than 100,000 courses on various subjects. You can take courses in career-focused fields such as office productivity, salary negotiations, and more.
- Coursera: This platform offers industry-recognized certificates when you complete their courses. On Coursera, you’re getting online training from the best of the best — all courses are made by world-class universities and companies.
Join professional organizations.
The goal of a professional organization is to unite and educate people who work in the same industry. Many organizations offer help with professional development by providing training and workshops. By joining them, you can acquire new skills and meet other like-minded people with the same career goals.
Read books about your industry or one that interests you.
Choose an area of your career that needs work and find books that teach you how to improve on it. Creating a reading habit isn’t as hard as you think. Let’s say it takes you 60 seconds to read one page of a book. If you dedicate only 20 minutes a day to reading, you'll be able to finish a 200-page book in only 10 days.
3. Build a Strong Professional Network
Networking is a vital aspect of career growth. No matter where you currently are in your job, if you’re not building strong relationships, you’re missing out.
A strong network is the most effective way to find new career opportunities. Here’s how you can start building a network that boosts your career.
If you're working for a big company, it's unlikely you know every employee there. One way you can network is to offer to have lunch with someone from another department and learn more about what they do.
Another strategy is to join activities that your company organizes — such as the company’s annual 5k for charity — to meet new people at work.
LinkedIn is an incredibly useful tool.
LinkedIn, if used right, can be a perfect tool for growing your network. Here’s how you can use the platform to boost your contacts:
- Linkedin groups: To grow your network, join groups that are relevant to your industry on LinkedIn. Introduce yourself, contribute to discussions, and share content that could interest members.
- Use LinkedIn Publisher: LinkedIn has a feature called Publisher that lets members publish articles on the site. By posting quality content, it’s a good opportunity for you to share your expertise and network with others on the platform.
- Direct message (DM): Reach out to others in your industry on LinkedIn via DM. Make sure to personalize each message using a custom title, explaining why you want to be connected, and detailing what you admire about their updates or work.
Commit to some volunteer work.
Giving back to the community can go a long way for your career growth.
Doing charity work outside the office offers the opportunity to explore different industries. During this experience, you’re likely to meet other professionals in the industry and discover new jobs you may not have thought of.
4. Get a Mentor
As a professional, you may not have all the answers to the challenges thrown in your way. If you want to grow in your career but feel stuck, it's OK to ask for help.
A career mentor can give you the tools you need to take things to the next level. They can help you identify what’s blocking you in your career, develop new skills, and connect you with others in the industry.
If you're looking for a mentor but don’t know where to find one, try these tips to get started.
Focus on how you can provide value.
Before reaching out to a potential mentor, think about what value you can offer, instead of what you can get out of them. How can you help them? Do you have any expertise they could benefit from?
For example, you could introduce them to someone you know is interested in their product or services. Or, let’s say you have skills in social media marketing, you could offer to help boost the engagement on their social pages.
Create a list of potential mentors.
Once you’ve identified the value that you bring, create a list of mentors you’d like to connect with. Begin by searching your LinkedIn network or talking to your existing contacts to see if they know anyone who can help.
As you research, dig up as much information on your potential mentor as possible, such as their education and hobbies, for example. This will help you understand what path they took to get to where they are today and find things you may have in common.
Identify your top 5 potential mentors and contact them. Depending on the relationship you have with them, you can either ask them in person or contact them via LinkedIn or email.
When introducing yourself, start by mentioning what you like about their work or how their online content helped you. Be upfront about your goals, how often you’d like to meet up with them, and what you expect from them during the mentorship.
Why Starting a Business Offers the Most Career Growth
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By following our tips above, you’ll find ways to advance in your career development. But if you’re looking for a career path that offers room for creativity and forces you to constantly learn new skills, then consider starting a business.
Owning a company is the perfect opportunity to use your skills and experience to build something bigger than yourself. Here’s why running a company offers more career growth than traditional employment.
Even if you get along just fine with your boss, they’re still the ones in control of your professional life.
As a business owner, you are your own boss and have full control over your destiny. You’re the one who makes all the decisions about how you want to run your business. Each day, you’ll have to come up with creative ways to grow your company, from trying different marketing tactics to finding ways to decrease your expenses.
One big benefit as well is that you get to create your own hours, which means more freedom to pursue the things you love.
Starting a business can be risky, but by putting in the work, you can gain more money than if you depend on an employer. Long gone are the days where you’ll have to wait for an annual raise.
The key to success is to follow a proven strategy that brings profit. Each client that joins Main Street goes through a step-by-step process that equips you with top-tier training and our investment in your company to grow revenue.
Find Your Path to Continuous Career Growth
As you build your career, you should always be looking for growth opportunities. From learning new skills to expanding your network, there are countless ways to get out of your comfort zone and continue to grow.
If you’re still feeling trapped in your job, however, it may be time to change your career path completely. Learn more about what to do if you want to change careers, but don’t know where to go.