What’s holding you back from your dream career? A lack of opportunities? Too much competition? What if the thing holding you back is you? We can all suffer from a lack of confidence or a low self-esteem, but it’s important to overcome it to ensure we reach our goals. Here are some tips for overcoming your career hurdles.
1. Get more experience
A ‘lack of experience’ is something that will often hold people back from applying for a new role or is the feedback received from recruiters. Rather than dwelling on the fact that you don’t have the right experience, set out to get it. Most employers will want to retain their staff through growth and development, making shadowing opportunities an appealing option for both sides. Ask your manager for the chance to shadow someone else’s role for weeks or even a few days here and there as a way to develop some more experience and show your willingness to advance in your role. Asking to be involved in other projects or even volunteering for charities can be a great way to get that vital experience to help you reach the next step of the ladder.
2. Set yourself goals
According to John Assaraf of NeuroGym, setting goals for yourself can benefit your aspirations, and you must mentally train yourself to reach them. Through affirmations, meditation, and other techniques, you can visualize your goals much clearer and make them achievable. It’s important to have long-term and short-term goals, with the overall goals providing the path, but the short-term goals breaking them up into more manageable strides. This great motivational video offers further information on goal setting and why it’s important – offering perfect inspiration to get started.
3. Broaden your search
It’s easy to say that “there’s nothing out there,” but how hard have you looked? According to Forbes magazine, only 20% of jobs are actually listed. This means that internet searches for jobs on sites such as LinkedIn and Indeed may not yield the results you’re looking for. Networking is a far better way of finding out more about upcoming opportunities and getting your name out there with potential employers. Networking doesn’t necessarily mean going to industry events and swapping business cards around a room; you could also speak to family members, friends and those within your existing network about any up and coming roles they know of.
4. Don’t become stuck in a rut
If you took an entry-level role to get your foot in the door, then you’ve already made a positive step towards getting your dream role. What happens to many people, however, is that they become ‘stuck’ in this role, not knowing how to progress to the next level. If you know someone who has a role that would be of interest to you, ask them what they did to get there, what experience they needed and so on. Ask to work with them on different projects or tasks to broaden your skillset to help you meet the job description for your next role. Put in the extra hours if you need to so that your current workload doesn’t suffer, and make it clear to your employers that you’re looking to take the next step in your career.
5. Get the credit you deserve
There’s a lot that can be said for modesty, but with many workplaces being a competitive environment, sometimes it’s important that you speak up and get the recognition you deserve. This doesn’t mean bragging loudly across the office about your achievements, as that’s not a good way to find favor with your colleagues. Instead, self-evaluate your work regularly. If you work on a project basis evaluate each project with what went well, what could have been improved upon and what lessons were learned. Share this with your manager. Evaluation is a key part of many businesses today to ensure continued growth and improvement and offers you the ideal opportunity to showcase the work you’ve been doing. Asking for regular feedback with line managers is another way to regularly communicate your achievements without having to shout loudly.
6. Start getting involved
Do you typically shy away from colleague lunches, dinners and social events? Are you an active part of your workplace’s community? If not, this could be holding you back. Those who get involved in the company through more than just work show a bigger commitment to their employer and are more likely to be noticed as they spend more personal time with colleagues. Not everyone is a fan of after-work drinks, and that’s ok – why not suggest some alternative activities more suited to your interests and invite everyone along. When your colleagues go for lunch, make sure you go with them, and take the time to ask them questions about things other than work. This can be one of the most challenging hurdles to overcome if you’re shy or lack self-confidence, but is one that can really pay off if you give it a try.
7. Improve your interview skills
A job interview is one of the most uncomfortable experiences a person can go through. They can make you stressed and nervous and if your interview skills aren’t up to scratch, might not project the best representation of why you’re right for the job. There is a lot of advice available to you online to help with your interview skills including different tips and practice techniques that can help you to improve your confidence and break down the barriers that may be stopping you from presenting yourself well in front of an interview panel. It’s important not to feel too dejected if an interview doesn’t go your way, treat each one as another excuse for a practice and improve in time for your next one.
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8. Address unfairness and inequality
Are you often treated unfairly in your job? Expected to do things that aren’t in your description or face discrimination/inequality at the hands of colleagues? It’s important that you address it. Despite many improvements in the workplace, unacceptable behavior still exists which is unfair for both you and your other colleagues who may be facing the same treatment. You HR representative is there should you need to address inappropriate behavior and should be able to come to an effective resolution that will improve your working conditions. It’s not always an easy process, but getting the right advice about approaching unfair treatment at work will be a huge step in the right direction. If a suitable resolution can’t be reached, you may need to consult an employment lawyer who can tell you what your position is as well as take any necessary action.
9. Know when it’s time to move on
If you’ve been with your company for a while and the opportunities aren’t there, or you’re not being valued as you deserve, perhaps it’s time to move on. The culture of working for one company and staying until retirement is now long gone, and many people will work with multiple organizations across their lifetime. It can be difficult to accept that it’s time to try somewhere else but you have to go where the opportunities are. You can speak to headhunters about possible opportunities to help you find the right role as well as really take your time to search for the right job. If time isn’t an issue and you don’t need to leave your role immediately, wait until the right opportunity comes along rather than settling for a so-so job that gets you out of there quicker. Time is on your side, and you can plot your next move carefully to make sure that you’re happier in the long run.
10. Don’t be afraid to change careers
Many people will get stuck in a job they hate, believing that nobody ever really likes their job, but that’s not true. If you could have any dream job, what would it be? If the answer is reasonable (space cowboy may be a bit of a stretch), work out if it’s actually achievable and work out the path to getting there. You may need to re-train or go back to college, but there’s no reason why you can’t do these things. Flexible learning means you can do courses in the evenings or even gain qualifications through your current workplace without losing your income. Be sure to avoid the pitfalls of changing careers and remember to speak to those who’ve been there before – it’s rare to hear of someone whose life hasn’t changed for the better after changing careers.
There’s more to life than a job, but when you spend 8+ hours a day in it, it’s important to find something that’s right for you. Whatever your career ambitions, make sure you identify the hurdles that are stopping you from getting there and overcome them. Your dream job isn’t going to be handed to you on a plate, so it’s up to you to take steps to achieve your goals and make the best decisions for you.