After a challenging year like 2020, how are you feeling about the work year in 2021? Energised and reinvigorated after the Christmas break? Or do you have a nagging sense that you should be doing something more exciting (or even completely different) with your career, after having more time to reflect on this during the course of 2020? In our latest careers blog, our Alumni Careers Manager Caroline Egan offers six strategies to help you revitalise (or rebalance) your career as the year begins.
1. Review your career goals
How far is your current job supporting your long-term career goals? Do you even know what those goals are? When was the last time you reviewed them?
Most of us spend our careers reacting to organisational requirements and ad hoc job opportunities. Sometimes we need to make a conscious effort to get back on track or to re-evaluate whether our original goals have now changed.
Start by reflecting on what you want from your career now, including your values, motivations and ideal work environment. Review your skills and personal strengths and consider what career paths best use these.
2. Grow your job
You may have a target job in mind but lack a crucial element of experience. Maybe you would like more challenges at work.
First, identify an activity you would love to take on which best uses your strengths or which would fill a gap in your CV. Look at which projects are happening in your organisation and which staff are leading on this work. Set up an informal chat with those involved to find out more.
Think about how you could get involved and where your experience could be useful - for example joining a project team, helping out with peak workloads or providing a fresh perspective.
Talk to your manager to express an interest, explaining how it can help your performance in your existing job and ask for help in securing opportunities.
Your careers review will have uncovered some skills or knowledge you would love to develop further. Do your research to find out how people typically develop that expertise.
A formal qualification such as an MBA, DBA or Executive Diploma may be an option. Courses may be available internally, through a Business School, professional body or other training provider. Equally, the skill could be developed through growing your role, taking an internal secondment, work shadowing or mentoring.
Think about what support you will need from your organisation in terms of time off work, adjusting your work responsibilities or help with fees. You may need to put together a business case to gain the support of your line manager.
4. Expand your network
Growing your professional network (both face-to-face and on social media) can give you fresh insights and open up new career avenues. It’s essential to build your network before you need it.
Start by reviewing the network you already have. Are there any key individuals with whom you would like to re-engage? Suggest a quick coffee (if possible) or a call to seek their advice on a work issue or to catch up with what is happening in their sector.
Could you get more involved in professional groups? Think about joining a subcommittee or helping to organise an event once the threat of covid has passed. This will raise your profile and help you build new relationships with other organisations.
Take every opportunity to network within your industry but don’t limit yourself to this. Consider joining regional and national Warwick networks, or local business networks to widen your horizons. You never know where your next job could come from.
Volunteering outside of work is a fabulous way of building skills and networks which can reinvigorate your current role and open doors to new careers.
Unpaid work can enable you to dip your toe into really interesting work areas and provides a safe way of exploring a potential career change. You can browse volunteering opportunities at sites such as do-it, timebank and NCVO.
There are opportunities to volunteer at WBS, including mentoring. If you would like a higher level role or cannot find suitable vacancies online, consider contacting target organisations directly to negotiate how they could best use your skills.
6. Take a risk
Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith to force yourself outside your comfort zone.
You may spot an intriguing opportunity internally, for example covering a colleague’s maternity leave or taking a short-term contract. Maybe the role isn’t exactly in line with your planned career path. But if it will build new skills and networks - think about going for it.
Consider taking a sideways move to another department or a competitor. This broadens your experience and can give you an edge when you apply for more senior roles. You may have a business idea you can pursue alongside your full time job where you could take on occasional freelance work or start a part time business.
What have you got to lose? Your original career will still be there if you decide to return to it, this time with enhanced experience and a broader skillset which will only enhance your employability.
WBS alumni can try our free online Career Management course to help structure your thinking or set up a free consultation with our Alumni Careers Manage. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.