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The best of the best career advice

Sometimes we get in a rut. We settle into a position and don’t give career advancement another thought—until we get frustrated or bored.

The best overall piece of advice from our expert recruiters is to not let your career planning and advancement become a back-burner issue. Instead, keep it a front-burner issue. This means reality-checking where you’re at and heading at regular intervals.

Do we have other pieces of career advice to motivate you? We sure do, and here are our top 10.

#1: Establish a career plan

A career plan can, but doesn’t need to be, complex. What’s key is that you have a written plan and commit to reading it at regular intervals (say quarterly). This will keep you conscious of career changes and new opportunities. Once you have a plan, update it as often as necessary.

Read more: Explore the world of squiggly careers

#2: Think outside the box

Think laterally about career advancement, whether you want to stay in your current industry or explore new areas. Perhaps you’re a bookkeeper in a large private, national consultancy organisation and are tired of the corporate grind. Why not consider joining a not-for-profit or pursuing a bookkeeping role in a humanitarian environment, for a change of pace?

Read more: Time to dive into a career change?

#3: Think about the next level

You’re at the top of your pay scale. How can you get to the next level? Assess the skills and qualifications needed. Can you benefit from better planning skills? Better strategy skills? Improved team player capabilities? Next plan how to get there (see #4).

Read more: Time to switch it up with a career switch?

#4: Be a lifelong learner

Without continual learning, we get stale and out-of-date. One way to advance in your career is to gain new knowledge and skills. This can be through short courses or longer study. It can be developing your technical skills, for example, like in the IT space. It can also be developing leadership or communication skills.

Read more: Attention employees: Never stop learning

#5: Find a career coach or mentor

It’s amazing how inspirational it can be to work with a career coach or mentor. These can be formal or informal arrangement. Career coaches can help you analyse your strengths, interests and personality. They can help you develop a career plan. Mentors can help you gain valuable insights and even help you raise your profile in the right places. They can have invaluable wisdom.

Read more: Mapping professional development

#6: Meet new people

Yes, networking has tremendous value in career planning and advancement. Getting out there and meeting new people supports you to learn and gain insights into ideas you might not have thought of. If you’re thinking of changing industries or sectors, networking can expose you to vital information on skills you may need to develop. It can help you understand salary scales and establish new contacts.

Read more: Networking: Worth the time and effort?

#7: Ask for opportunities

If appropriate, share what you want to do with colleagues and/or your supervisor and ask for help. They may have ideas on how you can seek new opportunities, even if through small, time-specific projects that will build your skills.

Read more: How to start a new career you love

#8: Don’t rule out your existing organisation

How well do you know the different areas in your organisation? Learning what others do can expose you to opportunities to join another team or department. It might be, for example, that you’re in a communications branch with great writing skills. How about a move to a policy area? Employers want to retain top-notch team members, so just having a conversation around your interest in career progression can be beneficial to both parties.

Read more: Want a career change? Don’t panic

#9: Make sacrifices

Advancing your career may mean making sacrifices. An example might be a financial investment in training. It might be giving up some personal time after hours or on weekends to develop a career plan, update your resume or refresh your LinkedIn profile. Making sacrifices can, at times, mean taking a small pay cut to get to where you want to be. Don’t see this as a negative. See it as a positive investment in yourself and a move in the right direction.

Read more: How to climb the career ladder

#10: Be patient and kind to yourself

Career advancement doesn’t happen overnight so be patient and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t switch jobs in the short term. And remember that you may apply for, but not get, some positions before you land that dream job. It’s OK. Simply regain focus and keep at it.

Read more: Six actions for landing a new job

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