When workers think of taking action to further their careers, they often look for courses that will make them proficient on the latest software or show them an organizational technique that will improve productivity. While these skills undoubtedly can boost their value, it also is important to realize the role of soft skills in career success.
Employees at small businesses grow used to hearing this question from inquisitive friends and family. While being able to say the name of your workplace and have instant recognition can be flattering, rest assured that plenty of people have had successful, fulfilling careers at institutions that aren’t household names. Among the reasons they stay:
Years ago, people would get their first “real” job and then stay there for life—or at least a couple of decades. Times have really changed. These days, the average person changes jobs 5 to 10 times in their career (maybe more). The trick is trying to find that happy balance between being an out-of-control job hopper and sticking around in a dead end job way too long.
Self-assessment is a tricky matter. While you don’t want to sound like you think you’re God’s gift to the company, you also don’t want to downplay your contributions just for the sake of looking modest. Likewise, while we all know nobody is perfect, reminding your boss of mistakes you made isn’t the wisest move -- especially if salary talks are following the evaluation.
When students graduate, they often relish the thought of being “done” with teachers, classes, studying, homework, and the like. For people who truly want to get ahead in their careers, however, learning never stops. Routinely taking the time to upgrade skills and learn new ones increases your value to your current employer as well as makes you more attractive on the job market.
Whether you’re moving up, laterally or out of your company altogether, taking on a new job can take your career in a brand-new direction. As you launch yourself into a new role, here are some strategies for getting started on the right foot:
The employment situation is more competitive than ever these days, and there’s no guarantee of job security anymore. That’s why workers—no matter how talented or qualified they may be—cannot afford to get too comfortable. If you try to get by just by “coasting” through your workdays, you run a very real risk of being at the top of the list for layoffs, should cutbacks be needed.
To stay ahead of the pack professionally, you need to learn how to adapt and adjust to the changing workplace landscape. That means that you should make it a priority today to prepare for the workplace of tomorrow. Otherwise, you may be left behind.
If you tend to get stuck in your ways or are reluctant to embrace new work processes, you will have a hard time keeping up with an ever-changing work environment. You must be flexible and open to new work approaches.
Graduation season is upon us and with it words of wisdom from those who have already set out in the “real” world. Truth be told, we could all use a little pep talk from time to time, so here are some thoughts from actual commencement speeches:
“Develop your own compass, and trust it. Take risks, dare to fail, remember the first person through the wall always gets hurt.” – Aaron Sorkin, screenwriter and producer (Syracuse University, 2012)