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Success Article

October, 2000

Take Charge of Your Career

by Debra Pestrak

These days, more and more people are dissatisfied with their job and yearn for a more challenging position within their organization that will give them intellectual, personal and financial growth. If youíre tired of floundering with the same job title while others seem to swim ahead, then itís time to take charge of your career to achieve the professional status you desire. Only if you take action can you get noticed and put your career in overdrive. Below are the top five career-furthering ideas.

  1. Stand out and be noticed.

    In today’s business world, it’s not enough to just prove yourself technically in your field. You must also be the best at what you do, whether it’s sales, computer graphics, marketing or financial planning. Your results must be exceptional for the company to truly value what you’re doing and to notice your bottom line contribution. In order to accomplish this, you need to first develop your career plan and discuss your career aspirations with your manager. Also, keep your manager and upper management up-to-date on your contributions and accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn, but don’t overdo it.

  2. Write down your goals.

    Having career goals is a sure step to success. However, unless you write those goals down, all you really have are wishful dreams that may or may not come true. Writing down your goals makes you accountable for them and encourages you to strive harder to achieve them. When determining your career goals, consider where you want to be in five, 10, and 15 years. Remember to always keep your goals specific. Instead of simply stating that you want to close more sales contracts or earn more money, determine specific objectives such as increasing sales by 15% or earning $20,000 more. Also, the more you can visualize yourself achieving the goals, the better your chances of actually doing so.

  3. Decide if you need to make a career change.

    Many of the top executives interviewed in the book Playing with the Big Boys wish they had accelerated their careers by making a career change earlier than they did. To determine if you need to make a change in order to get ahead, ask yourself the following: “How long have I been here?” and “What would have to happen for me to move forward?” Normally, within 18 months you should be able to master an assignment. If you’ve been in the same job with the same responsibilities for longer than that time and don’t foresee any advancement, it may be time to change assignments or careers. Also, look out two positions from where you are and assess whether that is where you want to be. If you’re not sure, consider working for the person who has the job you want to determine if it really is the job for you. If you ultimately determine that your company isn’t supporting your career goals or that the corporate culture doesn’t fit your personality, then get out. It’s easy to get emotionally tied to your work and hope the situation will change when it wonít.

  4. Find a mentor.

    One of the best ways to get ahead is to learn from someone who already has. A mentor can also teach you intangible skills such as how to be effective in the environment and basic business know-how. When choosing a mentor, look for someone who represents your values and who supports your goals. Decide whether you want the mentoring relationship to be formal or informal. Remember that mentoring works best when it is a personal experience and not an assignment.

  5. Learn all you can about your business or industry.

    Within most organizations, knowing various areas of the business is a prerequisite for moving into the executive ranks. You may be able to move close to the top as a specialist, but most organizations will not give you a policy-making position if you don’t know how other departments operate. In order to learn about your company, read the annual report, which will identify what is important to the company and its long-term goals. Also, volunteer to be a part of teams and task forces. This will allow you to expand your knowledge base and to network simultaneously.

Career advancement is possible when you take a proactive approach to your professional future. By implementing these tips into your daily life, taking charge of your career and making yourself a noticeable presence within your company, you will achieve the status you desire.

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To discover more career advice contact the author of Playing with the Big Boys: Success Secrets of the Most Powerful Women in Business Debra Pestrak, president of Success Unleashed®, Inc., a company dedicated to delivering high-impact and empowering programs at 888 SUN-3777.


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