For many, taking their career to the next level seems a like a far-fetched dream. You may be stuck in a dead-end job or simply don’t see a way to improve and move forward. Hoping for a miracle may not be a solution either. If you’re seriously hoping to see your career takes a turn around and fulfill your aspirations for your professional development, you need to control your despair and take serious actions.
There are almost no limits to what one can do with persistence and determination, but to succeed in your efforts you need a water-tight plan that enables you to take measured steps toward achieving your end goals. To begin, you have to lay out realistic goals and set a roadmap to achieve them.
Here are a few steps that can help you along the way.
Have you been stuck with no or limited career progress for many years? This could be a result of the economy, your employers’ operations or simply the fact that you’ve settled into a routine. Before you plan your next move, you need to know the causes behind your career plateau. Exploring the different reasons will help you tackle any that are within your control. Be honest, however, about the reasons and try your best to avoid blaming your stagnation on others or general factors.
Now you should decide how your career is falling short of your aspirations. Is it a matter of your job title, job responsibilities, employer, financial status or the like? Again, be as specific and honest as possible. A vague feeling of unhappiness isn’t enough to pass a judgment on your entire career, and it isn’t enough to support a change. The more you define the areas that need improvement, the better you will be able to set specific goals. For example, if your concern is that you have been at the same position with more or less the same pay for several years, perhaps now is the time to look into what you need to get a promotion or land a higher position with another employer. Setting goals that are realistic and achievable is crucial at this stage.
Based on your goals, you will need to take action. Be clear what your priorities are. For example, you may not be able to get a better title, more money and more flexible schedule at the same time. But if you prioritize your goals, you may be able to meet them one by one. Getting there may require some sacrifices or tough decisions, too. So be prepared to look into how you will weather these difficult times and set a realistic path for managing any issues related to finances or long work hours.
It is important that you try to share some of your ambitious plans with your employer– if you expect them to be well received. In many cases, employers have no clue about how you feel about your job and won’t read your mind about your need for change and advancement. If you have solid, realistic plan that advances your own area of work, they probably can fit somewhere within the employer’s big-picture plans. It doesn’t hurt to get your supervisor involved, and try to advance within your company. Keep in mind, however, the possible insecurities that these plans may trigger among co-workers and supervisors if they are resistant to change. So study your situation carefully and seek those who may have understanding to your ambition.
Getting your career turned around may be dependent on job openings, funding for required education or certification – these are matters that will take time to fruition. But if you have come to the realization that you’ve been stuck professionally, try to take immediate actions that help you get in a positive, constructive mindset.
Based on your goals, this can be revamping your resume and applying for job, reworking your job responsibilities with your supervisor in a way that makes it more dynamic and engaging, or working out a plea for a promotion or a pay raise. Although taking an immediate action is important to help you feel on track for introducing change, make sure you don’t rush into an uncalculated move that costs you later. Think thoroughly every step of the way to make sure that you take your career where you need to see it.
Rania Oteify, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is now a Seattle-based editor.