• Motto

6 Easy Ways to Advance Your Career

5 minute read

There’s no better source of motivation than a healthy dose of Vitamin D. When the weather turns warm, I feel ready to tackle challenges, revisit old commitments and put plans into action. And it’s no coincidence that when the temps heat up, companies also tend to come out of hibernation and start to refresh their ranks with new hires and promotions. This is good news for you, and means that if you’re exiting grad school or looking for a new adventure, it’s time to brush up on your career skills.

In fact, there’s no better time to set yourself up for success for the rest of the year. So whether you’re gearing up to ask for a raise, ready to apply for your dream job or just want to grow in your current role, here are six tips that are sure to support your goals — both from my own experience and from my time as a career advisor at SoFi.

1.) Take professional development into your own hands

What happens in your body when the words “professional development plan” cross your path? If you’re like me, you might cringe and avert your eyes. Planning for the future can be hard, and especially when we work as much as we do, it’s easy to fall into the day-to-day and forget we’re actually working toward some goals — and not just those that support your company’s bottom line.

Gone are the days where jobs step in to push professional development, so if you want to keep growing, it’s up to you to ask for feedback, seek solutions and implement a plan. Take stock of your progress and contributions at work at least twice a year and use the benefits your company offers — tuition reimbursement, sponsored workshops, etc. — to invest in your future and improve yourself. Not only will you sharpen your skills and expand your qualifications, but you’ll also showcase that you’re resourceful and proactive.

2.) Say yes

There’s this thing called imposter impostor syndrome, and you may have heard of it. It creeps into our psyche and tells us we’re not good enough. It says there’s no reason someone should rely on us to get anything done because we really don’t know what we’re doing and are just waiting for the world to find out. That voice is wrong, and it’s holding you back.

Saying yes when opportunities arise can help you be seen, get recognized for your enthusiasm and applauded for your aptitude. Also, no one expects you to be perfect. If you’re in a certain position or role at work, more likely than not, you’ve genuinely earned it.

3.) Say no

There’s confidence associated with saying yes, but there’s also maturity and self-awareness associated with saying no. If you’re stretched paper thin, it’s OK to turn down tasks and ask your manager to help you prioritize your work. In the end, everyone (including yourself) will thank you.

4.) Don’t forget your people skills

There’s no denying that when it comes to promotions your work product counts. But no matter your rockstar status, how you get your work done matters too, and at the end of the day, decisions about advancement are made by people, for people.

It’s not necessarily about being the chatty Cathy or the biggest personality, but it is about being respected, and more importantly, respecting others. To do this, find a mentor, build relationships, be the person everyone wants to work with and practice being kind every day. This positive energy will come back to you in spades and sometimes when you least expect it.

5.) Promote yourself

There’s a quote from the book, Power Your Career by Nancy Burke and Richard Dodson that I love, and it goes like this: “Tactful self-promotion is an art that, when practiced appropriately and authentically… pays off in greater visibility, richer relationships, more interesting assignments, more recognition, and expanded opportunities to use your gifts… and secure the rewards you deserve.”

Basically, being humble all the time can actually be hampering your progress. Don’t defer credit, minimize accomplishments or fail to speak up about your wins. In the long run, you’re only harming yourself.

Instead, don’t be shy and learn how to tastefully highlight the unique way you bring value to the table.

6.) Don’t play by the rules

Years ago I left my “dream company” to take a job in a new city, industry and function. I did it because I was operating under the definition of success that society created for me: climb the corporate ladder, get promoted, make a ton of money and aim for a cushy corner office.

When I followed that direction, I was met with disappointment. My festering unhappiness affected my performance at work, as well as the person I was at home. With help, I decided to figure out what advancement and success meant to me. Rejecting people’s expectations was hard, but the resulting fulfillment and satisfaction wiped away any doubts.

Maybe for you advancement means fancy clothes, high-rise buildings and a fat paycheck, and that’s completely OK. But you should also recognize that success comes in many forms. Don’t be afraid to look at yourself and write a definition that feels right.

Gabrielle Bill is a career advisor at SoFi where she offers career coaching, personal brand development services and detailed resume reviews.

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