6 Actions to Take to Advance Your Career
It’s common to feel stuck in your career, like you’re no longer growing or enjoying your work. And when you stop growing professionally, you stop expanding your skills, knowledge, and experiences. As a result, you stop expanding your personal value. This means you stop becoming more valuable to the marketplace, which negatively affects your career advancement.
To help you fight against this stuck feeling and get back on the career-advancement track, here are six areas to strengthen, along with concrete actions to take to strengthen them.
Confidence is your greatest competitive advantage. Confidence leads to competence. It’s through confidence that you muster the courage to learn new skills, take new risks, and put yourself in the spotlight. Confidence and courage work like muscles: they remain weak until you train and strengthen them.
Self-confidence is self-belief and self-trust. It’s believing in yourself enough to take action, despite your fear of failure and rejection, and trusting yourself to follow through.
Action Item: Write three things you know you need to do but have chosen not to because you’re afraid of failure, rejection, or judgment. Do (or start) one of them this week.
Many people are drifters, working Monday to Friday without a sense of direction for where they’re taking their careers or what long-term goals they plan to achieve. By not having the clarity of a long-term career strategy, it’s difficult to make decisions and take action in the short term.
People are your greatest teachers—it’s important to study and learn from those who’ve already achieved the outcomes you desire. By analyzing their successes, you can develop your own strategy, take action, and then learn from the results of your actions.
Action Item: Think through and build a long-term career plan for yourself: What’s your long-term career outcome? What’s your strategy for achieving it? What’s needed for you to start taking action? Then start taking action and learning from your results.
3. Personal Branding
How others—companies, colleagues, and other professionals— perceive you is determined by your personal brand. For example, if you asked your best friend to describe who you are to someone new, your best friend would share their perception of you. This perception is the personal brand that will be remembered.
Similarly, the reputation and identity you develop and promote in your career will influence how other professionals perceive you. This affects your applications, interviewing, negotiating, responsibilities, promotions, compensation, and more.
Action Item: Determine how you want to be perceived professionally. Then begin strengthening your brand by further developing yourself and acting accordingly. If you’re making a career change, update your LinkedIn (you should do this anyways), resume, and cover letters.
4. Personal Development
“Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” - Jim Rohn
There are three forms of value: time, money, and information. Time is fixed, and you often don’t start your career with much money, which leaves you with information. By investing in personal development and building new skills, knowledge, and experiences, you increase your information value and become more valuable to the marketplace.
When you become extremely valuable, you attract opportunities. The goal is not to exert enormous energy chasing, but instead to develop yourself until you attract.
Action Item: Write the most important skill or knowledge area you can begin improving now that would massively improve your ability to add more value in your position or career. Buy a book on the subject tonight and begin reading it ASAP, even if only for 15 to 30 minutes per night.
Most diets, workout plans, relationships, projects, businesses, and other important long-term endeavors fail due to a lack of consistency (among other things). It takes consistent action to transform your body, to develop trusting relationships, and to prove your value professionally. Similarly, it takes consistency to create new opportunities and advance your career.
You must relentlessly focus on your personal development, professional networking, and personal performance. These three form the bedrock to your career.
Action Item: Write down what you already know you should be doing consistently. Set a start date within the next week for when you’ll fully commit to following through. Start off slowly and build over time. Rome wasn’t built on Day 1, and it was never expected to be.
If the five areas above are the ingredients to the recipe, then opportunity is the baked cake. By improving and taking action on the above five, you begin to receive opportunities in your life and career through recognition, referrals, recommendations, requests, endorsements, promotions, partnerships, invitations, and other means.
Action Item: Define the next career opportunity you most desire and begin planning how you’ll become the person who’ll attract it. Then begin taking action to manifest this opportunity.
Jamie Carlstedt is a career coach to business professionals. Many people aren't being challenged or growing in their careers, and Jamie provides the strategies and resources needed to help them advance their careers, grow professionally, and make more money. Jamie’s the Founder of Redstone Coaching and previously worked as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs (in NYC). He's coached 100+ business professionals, was a Top 100 U.S. Business Student (Poets & Quants), was the first in Michigan State's history to land a job with Goldman Sachs’ investment banking division, is certified in Life Coaching & Business Mastery, and graduated with a perfect GPA from Michigan State's Honors College.