(BPT) - Summer isn’t just the time to get your body in shape; it’s a good time to get your career in shape as well. Just as we evaluate the condition of our bodies each year before donning our shorts and bathing suits, we should make a habit of assessing our careers. After all, you are the CEO of your career, the one who guides the way.
The career-focused website CareerCast.net concurs, citing career fitness as “a key to sustained employment.” “Think of it as working strong,” says Chasity Trzop, regional director of career services at Brown Mackie College - Louisville. Here, she shares her knowledge of career building to help you keep yours in shape for the future.
Know who you are and what you want
"Think of yourself as a brand,” Trzop states. “Write down your core principles in the same way a company develops a mission statement.”
These attributes identify who you are and provide a creed to live by. Understanding yourself in this way can help to keep you grounded and prevent flip-flopping in decision making. “We tend to make better decisions when they are based on our core principles,” says Trzop.
Revisit your professional goals
To what level do you wish to rise in your career? Advancement doesn’t just happen. Those who are promoted put effort into the accomplishment. In fact, salary.com reports that those who clearly write down professional goals and plans to accomplish them achieve a greater level of success than those who do not. While it’s good to have long-term goals, it is important to create short-term goals that can be achieved more readily.
“Short goals help keep you better motivated,” says Trzop. The career resource website, careerinfo.net, offers a worksheet to guide you through the process of setting goals. Knowing where you want to go and how to get there makes you a proactive participant in the process.
Define your career path
“Developing your career is a fluid process,” says Trzop. “Some people reason, if I do these things, I will get this. If I do other things, I can get that. Simply checking things off a list doesn’t make your abilities better. Promotions are not based solely on seniority. Management evaluates skill level and capabilities.”
Trzop suggests volunteering to do the work of others while they are on vacation. “Being proactive shows the boss you can do it. Ask for feedback about your performance to make sure you are doing everything the new work entails,” she says.
Gone are the days when one will stay with the same company for 30 years. Just because you have a job today, doesn’t mean that you will have one tomorrow. It could be that you find a new opportunity; it could be that your employer decides to cut costs by downsizing. Either way, it’s easier to hit the ground running when you’re prepared to pursue your next opportunity.
“Keep an eye on industry changes and trends,” advises Trzop. “Technology changes things. If you sit too long content with what you already know, you will fall behind the curve.” It never hurts to take a class to master new software and its uses.
Revitalize your network connections
Don’t just belong to a professional organization, attend the events and participate! Every gathering of professionals offers the opportunity to reinforce your place in your industry.
“People tend to come away from conferences and professional presentations energized with fresh ideas,” says Trzop. “These are good places to swap ideas and find out about other work places.” Introduce yourself to seasoned professionals in your industry. “They offer a wealth of information,” Trzop says. “Offer help when you can, and ask for advice if you need it. The experience may make you happier in being a part of the industry as a whole.”