How to Build a Successful Career?

The modern world is highly competitive and technologically advanced. Careers are built much faster than some 5-10 years ago, but the requirements for a modern employee are now much greater. Is it possible to build a successful career quickly and what skills will come in handy to do so?

What factors can inhibit your career development?

  • You really do not have the necessary professional skills/experience (hard skills).
  • You don’t have the necessary knowledge on how to look for a job – to write a resume or a cover letter, to have an interview. There are psychological difficulties: fear of rejection or stress from the process of sending a resume.
  • Lack of soft skills. Many people believe that only hard skills are needed to build a career, but there are much more serious difficulties:
  • Lack of a strategic plan. You don’t know what you want in your career, how to achieve it, and how to determine that the result matches what you wanted.
  • Unwillingness to learn new things, lack of flexibility and willingness to change.
  • Mixing career and professional growth. These are different things: if a person is a professional, this does not mean that the process of building his career will happen by itself.

Decide on a long-term goal

Building a career – what does it mean exactly for you? Growing up to be a business leader (vertical growth) or becoming a cross-industry expert (horizontal growth) are different goals, and the ways to them will be different. Define your life goals and integrate your career goals in them. Identify your values and desires and use them on your career path.

Focus on the industries that fit your career goal

Select companies according to the same principle. In a startup, you can grow quickly – this is their plus. Yet, they often lack a clear structure. If a startup itself stops growing, you can freeze too. A large company is of more merit, there are more tasks and projects, more options for development, a lot of cross-functional interaction – these are the advantages. However, you can grow there much more slowly.

Focus on soft skills

Work is not only what you can do, but also how you can do it: you communicate with colleagues and partners, negotiate, discuss favorable terms, correct mistakes, resolve misunderstandings and resolve conflicts. All other things being equal, it is easier to build a career for those who have strong soft skills: you can be a professional in your field and not be able to communicate. This will hinder career development.

Choose with your heart

You don’t have to look for a calling: you can start with what you just like, choose a company whose ideology you like, or go to work for a specific boss whose career or values inspire you. According to Business Insider research, it is the people who are genuinely passionate about what they do that succeed.

Be responsive

Predict the skills that you will need in the near future, learn new things in your own and related fields.

Learn directly at work, not separately from it.

The world is changing rapidly, so you need to keep up with it. For example, if you work in marketing, you should master new promotion channels and not be afraid of TikTok. And if you are managing projects, the terms Agile and SCRUM should help you develop new skills rather than be a reason to panic.

Build networking

There are several secrets to proper networking.

First, don’t confuse networking with friendship or nepotism. A network is 2-3 circles of your acquaintances: friends, family, colleagues and people whom they know and with whom you may have common interests and goals.

Networking is not about cronyism, but the ability to use your communication skills for your task. They can be different: chat with someone who already works in the company of your dreams and learn about the corporate culture and the intricacies of selection; go directly to HR and discuss the experience of someone who has changed professional direction or moved to the same place you are striving for; find out what the pitfalls can be and what to be prepared for.

Second: concentrate on what makes you useful to your acquaintances. A network is for mutual benefit, and it should be obvious to those around you. Tell about yourself, your goals, interests and dreams so that this information becomes key when your friend has a request. Simply put, when an interesting career offer or opportunity arises, your name should be the first to come to mind.

Do more than is expected of you

Just working well, you won’t surprise anyone today and you won’t build a career. Start to understand what you had no idea about, learn from your competitors, stay ahead. Work according to the principle “underpromise and overdeliver”.

Learn to look for a job

  • If you have relevant experience and self-confidence, the job will find you. If it doesn’t, something is wrong and it’s time to dig in yourself for answers. Both of these statements are wrong.
  • The responsibility for your career lies solely with you. A person who incorrectly positions themselves or does not do it at all, incorrectly searches for vacancies, does not know how to build a network, will move slowly in their career.
  • Remember that building a career is also a skill. People do not possess it from birth or after graduation from a university. It needs to be developed.
  • For example, job search courses can help in this case. Here’s what they can give.
  • There will be an understanding of how to build a job search.
  • The ability to present your experience to the employer will be formed.
  • The skill of taking interviews will appear – the ability to present yourself during a conversation.
  • As a result, you will get a sense of confidence in your abilities and competencies.
  • You have an applied job search skill that you can use as many times as needed.
  • The most important thing that such courses should give is the ability to repackage oneself as a specialist and not be afraid of this process.

What to learn?

If you want to change the field of activity, study what skills (hard skills) are needed for this field by analyzing vacancies on Glassdoor. Browse the profiles of specialists on LinkedIn – explore their “baggage”. What are the requirements of the market for applicants in the niche you are interested in?

If you want to stay in your field, but get a position higher, pay attention to your personal brand. Build your company image and relationships with other employees.

Manage your career as a project

Be smart about the resources you have and use them. In the case of a career, this is your knowledge, skills, experience, strengths, and networking.

Build your processes correctly. Don’t wait for your boss to promote you or find the job itself. But don’t go to the other extreme: don’t apply for every job you find online or work 14 hours a day to earn a promotion. Learn to act in a targeted and effective manner.

Evaluate preliminary results, reflect, analyze.

Manage your risks.

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