Whether you're satisfied in your job or on the path to a long and happy career, your work experience is more likely to be rewarding if you do your part to make it successful. Being happy at work takes work. And while it can be easy to coast along at work, especially if you've already gained the necessary skills and knowledge to get the job done, you won't always feel satisfied and fulfilled if you are no longer feeling challenged and motivated to learn and grow. Making sure you are engaged, motivated and inspired can reap positive benefits, outside of just your paycheck. Everything you do today amounts to your future tomorrow, and the habits you form today can stay with you to help or harm your work life. Whether you have five more years in the workforce or thirty, consider using the following tips to help you revitalize your career outlook and find success.
Refresh your professional goals.
Regularly designate time to reflect on your role at work and consider the aspects that make you happy. What makes you happy at work can change over time so this exercise will help you adjust your professional goals every few years. From there, write down actionable, realistic steps that you can take to reach your goals. This simple activity can help you maintain motivation and keep you happy and satisfied throughout your working years.
Become indispensable in the workplace.
When you lend a helping hand to a coworker, you can easily refresh your own job experiences and establish yourself as an indispensable employee and a reliable coworker. This can open up your eyes to new opportunities and help you find new interests, passions and goals at work. You won't be bored, and you can build new relationships that could pay personal and professional dividends for you down the road.
Find a mentor who can help guide your career.
Having a mentor is crucial to your career development. A mentor is a great resource to bounce off new ideas, seek advice for sticky situations and provide guidance for when you feel lost in your career. Additionally, a mentor can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses so you can leverage your strengths and minimize your weaknesses in the workplace for career success. Establishing this relationship with someone you trust at work could be a good start to finding a mentor, but other experienced professionals outside of your workplace could also serve as great mentors, too.
For more tips, visit Spherion's CareerBoost blog post on making yourself valuable in the workplace.
Regardless of whether you're in a job or career, both paths have their advantages. Consider the following benefits to see if they align with what you're looking for at work.
Benefits of a Job
- Primary goal is to earn a wage/salary
- Oftentimes more flexible in terms of hours (can be part-time) or duration (seasonal, temporary assignment, etc.)
- Usually offers more control over your schedule
- Predictable schedule with set hours per day
- Typically provides on-the-job training to ensure you have the skills to successfully perform the job requirements
- Opportunity to broaden your network with new colleagues or supervisors
Benefits of a Career
- Primary goal is to achieve a certain role/position, higher level of expertise or satisfaction
- Long-lasting; a worker can progress through many similar jobs to reach their goals throughout a career
- More unpredictable work schedule
- Achievement, purpose and passion are additional rewards you receive by working in a career
- Opportunities to learn new skills through industry-related training outside of what's provided by your employer
- Networking and mentorship can accelerate career advancement
Do you groan at the thought of your job on Mondays and cheer when it's Friday? Are you ready to soar in the workplace by tackling new challenges and responsibilities, but you can't find anything to sink your teeth into and prove your worth? Chances are, you may be in a job and not in a career.
So where do you go from here? Leaving your job to embark on a meaningful career can be intimidating, especially if you don't know how to do it or what to expect. But the benefits far outweigh the risks of changing from a job to a career, from job fulfillment and personal and professional achievement to increased knowledge and impact in your selected field. By following these tips, backed by findings from Spherion's Emerging Workforce Study, you can begin to create a career path that works for you and ultimately transition your job into a more rewarding career.
Figure out what you really want out of your work life.
Are you concerned with being successful at work and moving up the career ladder? In Spherion's EWS study, 47 percent of U.S. workers reported this was their top goal. Or, would you rather ensure work fulfillment and work-life balance in the next step of your career, just like 87 percent of U.S. workers? To determine your priorities, make a list of your work goals (training and development opportunities, career growth, job security, etc.), and prioritize them based simply on how important they are to you. Then try to match your goals to your current job. If most of your goals seem attainable through your present role, seek opportunities to chart your career path with your current employer (maybe you haven't thought about it!). If your goals are a mismatch with what's achievable at your current job, it may be time for a change.
Use what you know to get started.
Figure out what abilities and talents you already possess that are essential for your ideal career, and leverage them to help catapult you into your next position. For example, if you answer phones as a receptionist but would rather work in sales, play up your customer service skills. Do you prefer a job where you think of new or better ways to do things, like 89 percent of U.S. workers? If so, think of ways where you proposed or implemented solutions to issues in your workplace, and use these examples as case studies to show the impact you've made at other jobs. Chart out the skills that you bring to the table and get comfortable with explaining to a prospective employer how they are transferable and can make a difference.
Think of your career as a journey, not a destination.
Nearly half of all U.S. workers (44 percent) disagree that long-term career advancement depends on staying with an employer for a long time. And, for the more career-driven workers (designated as "emergent" workers in the EWS study), 79 percent state that you don't need to stay with one employer for career success. So, don't be afraid of changing jobs to advance your career. And if you're not ready to change employers, you may be able to find new opportunities to learn and grow in your current position. You can and should learn from every job. Your career won't suffer from staying with the same company, but it will if you don't seek ways to continuously grow.
Where do you see yourself professionally in five years? 10 years? What about 20 years from now? You may have given some thought to your professional goals since it's a common question in job interviews and performance reviews, but what about a long-term career plan?
Just like anything else in life, your career has a beginning and an end, and it's what you do in between that determines where you'll end up. It takes a strategy to implement what you want out of your career. One way to stay on track with your career is by mapping out milestones and accomplishments you want to meet and achieve by the end of your career. Although goals vary from worker to worker, there are a few aspects that are considered to be essential for everyone to keep in mind.
One of the most important things you should do is to learn about the different career paths you could take, given your interests, skills, background or experience. Even within the same industry, you can pursue a variety of job opportunities. For example, if you're interested in science, you could become a science teacher, researcher or a doctor. Also, figure out what you need to know at each level of your career. Map out your career based on when you expect to learn and the knowledge or skills you need to acquire at each level. Your colleagues and supervisors can also help you get an idea of what your future career path could look like.
To boost your career journey, you may want to consider becoming involved in professional organizations where you can make connections with your industry peers, identify potential mentors and gain new experience and skills. Networking through professional organizations can offer relatively easy access to a variety of different people, experiences and perspectives that can enhance your career plan and help you build beneficial connections.
Whether you are a rookie or a veteran in your industry, continuing education and training can transcend every stage of your career. There will always be new skills you can learn or knowledge to be gained to boost your performance at work and bring you greater fulfillment and satisfaction. By focusing on learning and training throughout each stage of your career, you can ensure you will stay on the path to achieving professional satisfaction and success.