Growing Your Career in the New Year

Image: Growing Your Career in the New Year

Finding Your Dream Job in 2014

2014 is here and a new year is always a good time to reflect on your life and evaluate your current situation. Many people take this opportunity to take a closer look at their careers. If you find yourself unhappy with your current employment situation, this could be a good time to consider what changes you’ll have to make in order to find yourself in your perfect job this year.

Finding a dream job can involve searching within your current organization as well as looking outside.

A ‘perfect’ job, is perfect because it makes you happy and engages you. It’s exciting and provides a sense of meaning. The catch is, you won’t be able to recognize what a ‘great job’ is until you really know what you want. Often it’s easier to start with what you don’t want to help you narrow down your list. Ultimately you will need to clarify your values. If you value time, your dream job will be one that provides flexibility and time off to do the things you love. If you value growth and challenges, your dream job will be one where increased responsibility and learning new skills is constantly provided.

Understanding what you value may also lead you to recognize the types of industries and roles that would be ideal for you. Then you need to evaluate whether or not you have the right knowledge and experience to do that work. If you don’t, are you willing to invest in gaining the required knowledge, skills and experience? How much will you sacrifice (time, energy, money) to achieve your dream job? Switching careers and embarking on a new path should always be driven by passion and motivation to do meaningful work. Money isn’t a good motivator. Simply wanting to have a larger salary won’t be enough motivation to sustain you. Recognize where your passions and strengths lie, and then spend time advancing them.

Looking Outside the Organization

In some cases, you may need to leave your organization and start over to find the right role. Before making a decision to leave, it’s important to take responsibility for what has happened to your career and reflect on how to avoid the same pitfalls in the future. Think about the reasons why you found yourself in a bad fit in order to develop a better sense of what you want next time.

Once you know what you want to do, why you want to pursue this path, and how it aligns with your values, the next 3 steps are easy:

  1. Do your research – learn about the industry. Identify what knowledge, skills and abilities will set you up for success.
  2. Network – connect with people in the industry and get a feel for what the work is like first hand.
  3. Create a plan – map out how you will achieve your dream career. When and how will you gain the right skills? Where will you apply for jobs? How long will your plan take to execute? What tasks will you execute in the short, mid, and long-term?

Growing from Within

If you want to change your career but stay with your current employer, you can start the wheels of change by communicating your desires to senior leaders, particularly during performance review and/or career development discussions. Be certain, however, that you have already  demonstrated high levels of performance in your current role, by assuming additional responsibility or leading a special project, before you ask for a role change. To grow in your organization, you may need to be open to relocate in order to work with a new team or division.

Enlist your colleagues and team members to help you make a move. Network with internal HR and non-HR colleagues, seeking their advice on which areas of the business you could add the greatest value. Ideally, you will have a formal mentor who can share his/her best practices for success. If you don’t have a mentor, invite people (both from within and outside of your organization) whose career paths you would like to emulate out for coffee. Pick their brains as to how you can be successful and change your current career path.

Wishing you all the best for a successful and fulfilling career in 2014!

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