Building a career in 2017. What you need to know.

A job can be much more than a pay cheque if you’ll let it be. Work adds up to 78,000 hours of your life, give or take a few. And it can be rewarding in more ways than just money.

What you do for a living gives you a purpose. It enables you to make a difference in the world. It lets you provide for your family and it should contribute to your health, happiness, self-confidence and self-esteem.

That’s all the more reason you owe it to yourself to start building a career in 2017, not just getting through the average nine to five for 40 hours a week.

You can do it. But remember that building your career is more than just stepping up to the next rung. It’s about mapping out your future and filling in the gaps.

  1. Know you industry and emerging trends. “Get used to taking risks and don’t limit yourself through fear of making career mistakes,” says Robert Half director Andrew Brushfield. Consider doing at least one thing every month that takes you out of your comfort zone. Start small and then share your ideas at work to get noticed.  You could, for example, start monitoring thought leaders in your field and send a regular update to your superiors with analysis of how this relates to your organisation. This is also a great way to get on the leadership track.
  2. Up-skill in new technologies. Becoming an early technology adopter and stealing the march on others in your industry is a great way to rise rapidly. Formal training and education can help, but you can also volunteer to be the person who monitors technological developments affecting your industry and learn as you go. “The ability to adapt quickly and upskill with technology will be critical – especially in platforms that will enable your organisation to reduce costs and increase operational efficiency,” says Brushfield.
  3. Get comfortable with soft skills. Interpersonal skills are often more valuable to an organisation than what you know. You can learn how to get the best out of yourself and colleagues. One way to do this, says Brushfield is to focus on more than just your own results. “Instead, meet with department heads and team leaders to see how you and your team can contribute and boost the organisation as a whole.” Volunteering is a great way to boost your soft skills.
  4. Seek feedback. Don’t wait for performance review time. Look for regular feedback from your bosses and colleagues about what you could do better. Look to take on extra duties, says Brushfield. But don’t accept every task that comes your way including overspill from other people’s workloads. Focus on what’s important.
  5. Build your networks. Expanding your existing network and mining your contacts opens you to opportunities. Get out and meet people and find yourself mentors. “You may think your direct manager is your only mentor, but more often than not, their job is to ensure you carry out your function – not necessarily to advance your career. Seek mentors both within and outside the company who can provide valuable career advice and industry perspective. Who knows – they may identify external opportunities for you,” says Brushfield.

Remember, says Brushfield, you won’t receive unless you ask for it, and sometimes you have to put your hand up for a promotion. Make your boss or management aware of what you have accomplished and what you want to do in the future. If you hear someone is leaving from a position that interests you, make it known that you would like to be considered for their role.”

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