In an ideal world, we would all be able to work in a job that we love. Not only could we commit ourselves to our passions full-time, but we would also be paid well for them. The real world, of course, is far more complicated. Consequently, we could all use some tips for building and sustaining satisfying careers.
Though you might not love working in healthcare administration, for example, you can love the difference that it makes. You can work as a nurse and absolutely hate your job and what it includes. However, you can love that you can help others feel better during one of their worst moments.
You don’t have to love every day of your job. You don’t have to love your job at all, in fact. What you should be, however, is passionate about it. It should provide you with some sort of value and help you lead a more fulfilled, enriched life.
The Human Need for Personal Progress
Something else that you always need to keep in mind, of course, is that we have an instinctual need to change.
This need to move forward into the next phase of our lives doesn’t always come from within, either. You may currently love the team you work with and can’t see yourself moving on because of that. Later, you realize that the rest of your team members start moving away or start moving up. As a result, you are left with a new team that doesn’t provide that same comradery.
You always need to build on your career. It doesn’t need to be up, but it needs to be forward. At any point, you should be on the lookout for useful tips for building your career. Regardless of what field or what role is right for you, there are always going to be a few tips that will help you build a better and better career every day.
Self-Reflection for Career Progression
One of the first tips that will make a huge difference in how you approach your career is to self-reflect.
We can often get very carried away with what’s right in front of us that we ignore what we need. This is how you find yourself ten years down the line in a career that you actually hate because you fell into it and just rode the wave of opportunities without taking any direction for yourself.
There are always options, however. If you find yourself in such a position, you can redirect your efforts and find a great role that allows you to build on top of your existing experience. Alternatively, you may need to retrain a little in order to get started in a new field.
You can adapt, but to adapt in a way that suits you and actually helps you get more out of your career, you will need to self-reflect on the following.
The first thing to consider is your needs. Some find it incredibly easy to stay organized and on top of their goals. Others find it difficult to keep up with their own personal hygiene routine.
Working with your needs and also the additional responsibilities you have will allow you to put yourself first.
A career is not supposed to supersede your own life. It should be how you support it. Perhaps you have kids that you want to take better care of. If so, finding a more flexible role can be the perfect option. You might even change careers so that you can work more closely with them.
Knowing your needs means knowing your priorities. This is the first and foremost of career-building tips. There will always be jobs that allow you to better accommodate your priorities.
You will have dreams and goals, and ideas on what you want out of life. These goals will also change or may evolve as you learn more about yourself.
Flip-flopping ideas and never seeing anything through isn’t a good approach. Similarly, it’s important to be flexible with your goals so that you can continually work towards something better.
What Interests You
We all have hobbies and interests. Though you won’t always be able to dedicate a career to them, you should make time for them.
You may also be surprised at how often you can use the skills or knowledge of what interests you in new ways. For example, if you currently work in administration in a hospital and love painting or design, you might be able to transition into a marketing career within healthcare.
Your Ideal Working Environment
A big part of the work/life balance is knowing what type of working environment and schedule works for you.
Some like having long shifts because it means more days they are entirely off. Others need the consistency of a 9-to-5 in order to keep up with their health and responsibilities. Some enjoy high-pressure work environments. Others need calm places to get the most out of their job.
Know what you need in your working environment and find an employer that can offer it to you. If you do, it will make a massive difference.
Know Your Options to Make Better Decisions
Knowing yourself can help you choose better, but you also don’t want to be stuck with a bunch of bad options.
Always take the time to explore career options. A great way to do this is to find people who inspire you. If you find what they do fascinating, then explore their history and qualifications. Ask them for a few career-building tips!
While you may not want to or ever work with the same person as someone you admire, you can find a great career path for you using this method.
Make Yourself Valuable, Not Critical
When it comes to working your way up and building your career itself, adopt the “Be valuable, not critical” stance.
What this means is you should offer value to your employer. However, you should never be the only person standing between success and complete failure.
It can be a powerful thing if you are the only person in your company that can do a certain job, but this also puts unnecessary pressure on you. If you are sick or dealing with a family emergency, and something goes wrong that only you can fix, this puts you in an incredibly difficult position that you don’t need to be.
Aim to be the best at what you do, not the only one that can do it. Train your teammates so that they can hold down the fort and handle things and then go on vacation or take that sick day.
Know When to Leave
You need to stay in a position long enough to learn what you can, and then you need to move on. Leaving a job behind can either happen when you are promoted, or it can happen by leaving and finding a new job that offers you more value and opportunities to learn.
Generally speaking, you should aim to work in a single role for two to three years. Don’t leave before then (unless the workplace culture is toxic or you get promoted quickly). Holding out can open up new learning opportunities that wouldn’t be available usually and is how you can appeal to your next employer on your job hunt. One of the best career-building tips is to not get the reputation of a job-hopper.
When to Further Your Career with a Degree…and How to Choose the Right One
When it comes to furthering your career, training and learning are two of the best tips every time.
How and where you learn, however, will depend on your field. If you work in the trades, you may be able to learn on the job or take short courses. These can give you great skills and certifications on top.
If you work in a more formal industry, such as healthcare, then standing out will often need formal qualifications, such as a degree. In many healthcare roles, that degree is an essential prerequisite, as you often need to earn a license in order to practice.
This doesn’t apply to every role, of course. However, when it comes to standing out and doing a better job than the person next to you, a degree can help you every time.
It’s important to know why you need the degree and also when to get it. After all, there are many, many different degrees out there, including new specialist degrees.
One such example is this Executive Master in Health Administration Canada, which is the only one of its kind in the entire country. Before this new, innovative degree, those looking to kickstart a career in executive healthcare management had no choice but to find an MBA and then choose the healthcare management certification. This has its downsides in that only one module is specifically focused on healthcare management. Similarly, the full Health Administration master’s degree allows you to focus every aspect of your career on your industry.
Soft Skills for Success
Building up your knowledge and hard skills with a degree or any other learning program is a great way to rocket up your career, but without these very important interpersonal skills, you may find it gets increasingly difficult to make progress.
- Interpersonal and Communication Skills
- Conflict Management Skills
- Organization and Motivation Skills
- Networking Skills
How to Network for Greater Opportunities
Networking is the best way to both establish yourself within your field and also open new doors all at once. It can even be fun if you know how to approach it right.
To start, forget those boring networking events where professionals strictly go just to meet other professionals. For a more relaxed (but focused) approach, go instead to learning events such as talks, conferences, or workshops. The meet-and-greets there are typically much less informal, and you will be able to get to know others without them immediately trying to suss out what you can do for them.
Demanding too much too soon is the easiest way to kill your network. You need to nurture it to get the best results.
The ideal way to do that is to keep your in-person meeting fun and interesting and to connect with them online, ideally through a job site like LinkedIn. This way, if they are active online, you can create casual but effective relationships by engaging and discussing with them important topics.
You should also aim to draw in engagement with your own posts and discussions. Making internet friends isn’t just for kids. It can greatly help improve your job prospects.
Become a Thought Leader (or Speaker)
One additional tip that will make a massive difference when it comes to building a career that you love and can be proud of is to focus on yourself.
If you work in a hands-on or creative career, use personal projects to stand out and get that next big break. If you work in a more traditional career, then use your knowledge and expertise to start making a name and reputation for yourself in your field.
Becoming a thought leader means building an audience. You can write, you can host talks, or you can manage a thriving social media platform. You can create your own project pieces and market those.
Having an audience means making doors of opportunity happen. It is how people learn about you, find you, and come to value you. If you want unique and exciting options to come your way, then put your work out there and make a name for yourself.
Be Ready to Make (or Tweak) Your Career
To really build a career that you love and find fulfilling, know that there will come a time when you will need to either veer off in your own direction or tweak your current role to suit your strengths and reduce your weaknesses.
This applies even to more traditional career options.
If you are a hospital director, for example, you will need a team directly under you that allows you to provide the best work for your hospital. Perhaps you are terrible with numbers and budgeting. OK, then you’ll need to bring on a budgeting expert and shift more of your focus somewhere else. If you need a more comprehensive HR system, you could outsource.
There are always options, and the higher up your career you go, the louder your voice will be. Use that voice to make changes that positively impact your role and your job satisfaction.