How do you invest in your career?
If you’re scratching your head trying to come up with an answer, then there’s the reason you’ve been feeling so stagnant and underutilized in your job.
Investing in your career doesn’t have to be a monetary investment. Although, sometimes paying to expand your knowledge or skills is the only way you can advance. Taking the time to change habits and practice skills that can make all the difference in a job search or even in your day-to-day is worth it!
These skills are desired by every employer in every job applicant and every employee. Taking some time (and maybe investing a little financially) to improve these skills may greatly impact your career outlook.
When employers are looking for flexibility in a candidate or employee, they’re also looking for time management skills. Being flexible will require you to manage your priorities (often multiple priorities simultaneously… doesn’t that statement sound familiar?) and adjust to accommodate emerging or urgent changes.
One way you can improve your flexibility in the workplace is to adopt a system for managing your time that focuses on priorities. Start your day by determining the top three priorities for the day. If you have larger projects on your plate, breaking them up into smaller weekly or daily priorities will allow you to be more flexible.
More and more workplaces are becoming collaborative where your voice and opinion matter. Your ability to suggest solutions to problems and propose new ideas is directly related to your creativity. Creativity can be a challenging skill to improve though.
Creativity is proven to emerge when you are less focused on the problem at hand. Put down your cell phone, turn off your computer, and set down whatever you’re working on. Go for a five-minute walk around the block (if you can) or spend a few minutes talking to someone you work with. Taking a mental break can get the blood flowing in your brain and foster more creativity.
Having a positive attitude is almost always listed on job postings and almost always addressed regularly in the workplace. If your job requires you to interact with people (whether those people are customers or coworkers) having a positive attitude will help you represent the company well and help raise team morale.
How exactly can you improve your positivity? Start practicing gratitude. Do it every morning. Do it on your lunch break. Do it on your commute home. To practice gratitude, create a list of three things that you’re grateful for. If you’re struggling for ideas, try these:
- One big thing (for example, being healthy)
- One small thing (for example, the best cup of coffee you’ve had all week)
- One experience (for example, your customers were all noticeably kind today)
Stress is sometimes unavoidable especially when circumstances are out of your control. Learning what it takes to manage your stress (and everyone is different in this matter) can be a game-changer in the workplace.
One universally effective way to improve your stress management skills is to take a five-minute break. This can be a physical break where you can isolate yourself from the irritants, eat a snack, stretch, drink some water, scream… whatever your stress management solution is. This can also be a mental break if you can’t get away from the stress. A mental break can include some deep breathing, visualization, gratitude practice, or a similar tactic.
Not every job or field will require you to have relationship building skills. For those of you that need to interact with customers, co-workers, or executives, working on your relationship building skills doesn’t have to be a terrible experience.
There are so many networking events at your disposal, and many of them are free! Check with your local chamber of commerce for any business or professional networking events that you can participate in. If the idea of professional networking sounds unbearable, consider signing up for Meetup. The app provides dozens of interest-based groups that you can join and events that you can attend to meet new people in your area. Putting yourself out there can really boost your relationship building skills!
With social media and texting, written communication skills have been slowly disappearing. Even more frustrating can be the lack of people who can effectively communicate ideas or issues in an appropriate and respectful manner. If you know you need to improve your communication skills, consider using an app like Grammarly to monitor your written communications across email and social media. It’s a great start.
Improving your verbal communication skills can be more challenging. One way you can improve these communication skills is to practice interviewing with a friend or colleague. Hear me out. Mock interviews force you to think on the spot to answer questions in one of the most professional environments you can be in. Even if you don’t have a job interview coming up, practicing your interviewing skills can greatly improve your everyday communication skills.
Leadership skills are also a bit tricky to improve. Some people are born leaders; others are certainly not. If your career path is leading you toward a leadership role, then finding ways to improve your leadership skills should be a top priority.
Start volunteering for charities and organizations that share your values. Volunteering alone shows initiative to take on more responsibility than you have to, and these organizations are willing to give leadership opportunities to people off the street without having to prove yourself much. You will learn how to delegate work, rally and motivate teams, and influence whether or not goals are achieved.
Technology is a wonderful thing, but not everyone picks up on evolving technology as quickly as others. If you are technically-savvy enough to search for and watch some videos, YouTube is a wonderful solution to most of your technical problems. When you need a more comprehensive solution to your technical deficiencies, there are online courses that are fairly affordable and hosted by professionals.
Here are a few from Udemy that you may want to check out:
- Word 2016: Advanced
- Microsoft Excel 2016 for Beginners: Master the Essentials
- Your Ultimate PowerPoint Guide To Wow Any Audienc
- Microsoft Access 2013: Beginner to Advanced
- Outlook 2016: Introductio
- Gain 4 Hours per Week: Learn 75 Practical Keyboard Shortcuts
Determine which skill or two you could improve to move up in the workplace, and make investing in those skills a priority.
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