Recognizing that you’ve become stagnant in your career isn’t difficult.
Maybe you’ve noticed that you take no pride in the work that you do day-to-day. Perhaps you feel the itch for a challenge or something new to shake up your week.
Having opportunities to grow in your career is vital to job satisfaction, and career growth comes in different shapes and sizes.
Yes, on-the-job training and the occasional project leadership opportunity can give you a boost; however, not every company provides opportunities for growth during your 9-5. You may need to put in some time outside of work to find opportunities for growth.
Luckily, you don’t have to look too far or wide to develop your skills, expand your professional network, and give your career the boost it needs.
1 | Volunteer Your Time
Volunteering is a great strategy for growing your skills and professional network. Otherwise, volunteering just to add an organization to your resume or LinkedIn profile is a waste of your time. You could volunteer your specific skill set (marketing, IT, management, etc.) or make yourself available to fill any role they need. Volunteering can strengthen transferable skills and even leadership skills as you’ll likely be in a position to work with others, communicate with others, help others, and possibly lead or mentor others.
Volunteering with industry-related organizations or organizations that support a cause you’re passionate about will expose you to like-minded people you can develop professional relationships with. Volunteering is, in a way, informal networking so spend time getting to know the people you’re volunteering with.
2 | Join A Professional Association
Joining a professional association in your field or industry is another way to give your career growth a boost. Yes, many of them charge annual membership fees; but the benefits of joining a professional association certainly make the investment worth it beyond an invitation to an annual conference.
A membership with a professional association can provide networking events with local chapters and mentoring opportunities. These organizations also offer skills-building events and workshops as well as certification programs to boost your credibility in your field. It also isn’t too uncommon to get access to additional job search support like members’ only job boards.
3 | Embrace Informational Interviews
Informational interviews are a great way to ease into networking because a one-on-one discussion over coffee or lunch is much easier than walking into a crowded room full of people you don’t know. Informational interviews are initiated when you ask a colleague, someone who works for a company you’d love to work for, or an industry expert to meet with you and share more about his or her job.
Informational interviews give you a broader look at career paths, industry trends, and job opportunities (Although, this shouldn’t be your primary focus during the informational interview!). LinkedIn is a great tool for initiating informational interviews even if they can only take place over a video or phone call.
4 | Find A Mentor
Mentoring can boost your career in so many ways. Having someone to support, encourage, and teach you from his or her own experience influences your career growth. You can find a mentor in your workplace, in your field or industry through networking, or using LinkedIn. The key is to create a mutually beneficial relationship. Look for ways to be a giver, not just a taker in a mentoring relationship.
Mentoring can also boost your career if you're in a position to mentor others. You don’t have to be an executive leader or manager to mentor others. You can take a new hire under your wing, so to speak, to provide support and training even if he or she isn’t in your department.
5 | Try Job Shadowing
Whether you’re considering changing careers or you’re interested in learning from a more experienced person in your field, job shadowing can also promote career growth. While job shadowing, you will observe and learn what a typical day looks like in that field or role. In many cases, you may be able to assist the person you’re job shadowing and get a more hands-on experience than you would have from a mentoring relationship.
You’ll also make connections in the company that you’re job shadowing at. The person you’re job shadowing will likely have to get permission from whomever he or she reports to making an introduction to upper-management more likely. These connections can be fostered online using LinkedIn and may come in handy when you’re considering a new job search.
Plan, organize, and conquer your upcoming job search!
The Job Search Planning Kit ($143 value) includes a:
Networking Strategy Generator
Social Media Action Plan
Employer Targeting Guide
6 | Start Freelancing or Consulting
Freelancing or consulting during your personal time can give your career growth a boost as well. You’ll be working independently with minimal supervision which will enhance your research and job-related skills. You’ll also learn how to manage your time, money, and clients effectively in ways your 9-5 job may not.
Freelancing or consulting can also help fill in employment gaps. Showing employers that you filled your time productively while in between jobs goes a long way. You’ll also meet more people in need of your skills and gain insights into their specific needs that you can refer back to when working for a company in a similar capacity.
I challenge you to give one of these career-boosting tactics a try this month whether you’re currently looking for a new job or not!
Please share how rewarding your informational interview, mentoring, or job shadowing experiences have been!