A career is the primary source of income for most people, and it is also an important factor in determining how happy and fulfilled we are. But with so many options available today, it can be difficult to decide which career path is best suited for us.
This is where career planning advice comes in. It’s a process that helps you identify what type of work environment will be the most fulfilling for you while also helping you achieve your professional goals.
Career planning helps you achieve your career goals by helping you address challenges, set goals and plan steps to reach them. It also provides valuable insights into your long-term goals and how best to reach them.
You should have short and long-term goals that are specific, measurable, and time-bound. You can use these goals to help you determine what type of career planning will be most effective for you, whether it’s a job search or an overall strategy for improving your skills and increasing your earning potential.
You don’t want to waste time or money doing things that don’t lead anywhere. You can create a path toward your dream job or career by finding out what your interests are and which careers match those interests.
Being lost in a sea of options can be overwhelming, but once you know what you want to do and your strengths, it’s much easier to focus on the right things.
Being prepared is about more than just knowing what the future holds. It’s also about handling whatever comes your way when you least expect it. When you create a plan for your career, it empowers you to handle unexpected challenges with confidence and grace—and even turn them into opportunities.
Have you ever felt the tug of stagnation in your career? It’s a common feeling, especially if you’ve been at the same company for years. But when you’re prepared to pivot, it’s easier to make changes that will help you stay motivated and engaged with your work.
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day hustle of work. But when you’re prepared to pivot, it’s much easier to see what changes need to be made so that you can advance your career. Looking at yourself with fresh eyes will give you new insights into what works and doesn’t.
And when you have the ability to self-reflect, it’s easier to identify your strengths and weaknesses. This makes it easier to see what skills need development and how they can be applied at work.
You are responsible for your career growth and development. You can’t rely on anyone else to tell you what to do or how to go about it. But when you’re prepared to pivot, it’s much easier to make the changes necessary for advancement in your career.
Career planning is an important process that can help you decide what type of work environment will be best for you. It’s a way to identify and match your career goals with the most appropriate job opportunities available.
Are you wanting to have a career shift? Start your career journey with PathWise today! We help you map your career path, educate yourself about the industry and job market, and provide support throughout your journey.
With all of the recent headlines about artificial intelligence replacing more and more jobs, a lot of people are thinking about how to future-proof their careers. And while we probably can’t stop the robots from coming, there are steps we can take to stay current.
A strategy I suggest to my leadership coaching clients is to attend a professional conference or workshop every year. Although it may be challenging to take the time and spend the money, doing so is an investment in your career. For myself, I find that attending a professional coaching conference sparks my enthusiasm as I learn new coaching trends and get recharged by the amazing professionals in my field.
A conference I attended earlier this year was the Career Thought Leaders Symposium: Envision the Future of Work, in San Diego. This was one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended. One of my favorite presentations was from Petra Zink, a Personal Branding and Digital Strategist who came all the way from Australia to share her strategies on future-proofing one’s career path by establishing yourself as a Trusted Authority.
Zink identified three key components to shift from your being seen as a technical expert to being viewed as a trusted authority: capability, credibility, and visibility. There are questions you can ask and steps you can take for each of these components.
Trust is generated at every touch point during the day and how you show up at meetings and follow up with colleagues, customers, and stakeholders. Future proofing your career means standing out as a Trusted Authority which means a focus on boosting your capability, credibility, and visibility.
Beth Benatti Kennedy is a PathWise advisor and leadership coach based in Massachusetts.
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Making decisions about our careers can be one of the most daunting tasks we face. We spend all too much of our lives trying to figure out what direction to take, and it can feel like a never-ending cycle of indecision. You may feel like you’re at a crossroads when it comes to your career, unsure of which path to choose and if its time to move on.
Being at the crossroads with your career can be a confusing and overwhelming experience, but it is also an opportunity for growth and discovery. It’s a chance to take a step back and evaluate your current situation and determine what direction you want to take for the future. How to decide to change jobs is a daunting task, but is a pivotal life moment.
When making choices about your career, always remember to put yourself first. It’s important to think about what is best for you and your future rather than what other people may want or expect from you. Think about what will make you happy and fulfilled in the long term and short term, don’t be afraid to take risks and explore different paths. Chose a path that won’t inflate your stress levels.
Before making any career decisions, it’s important to introspect. Take the time to reflect on where you are in your career life and what you want to achieve. Think about what you’re passionate about and what skills could be applied in a new direction. By understanding your current situation, you will be better equipped to make an informed decision about your future.
Another key step is to seek support from people who know you best. Surround yourself with people who can provide you with honest feedback about your goals and ambitions. This could include family members, close friends, industry peers, or a career coach. They can offer valuable advice and guidance essential to the decision making process for your career.
Take the time to envision your ideal work life. Consider the type of work you desire to do and the environment in which you want to work. Think about the type of company you want to work for, the people you want to work with, the location, and the hours you’d like to work. By visualizing your ideal work life, you can begin to narrow down the type of job or career you want to pursue.
Now that you have a clear vision of your ideal work life, it’s time to explore the possibilities. Research different job opportunities, industries, and companies to find the perfect fit for you. Take the time to explore the different job roles, responsibilities, and qualifications needed for each position.
Once you’ve identified the type of job you want, it’s time to start putting yourself out there. Update your resume and online profiles, and start applying for jobs. Reach out to contacts in your desired industry and let them know you’re looking for a job. Networking is a great way to make connections and find leads to help on your job search.
In conclusion, being at a crossroads with your career can be a difficult and overwhelming experience. However, there are many strategies that you can take and people you can talk to in order to help you make the right choice for your career.
In need of career coaching? PathWise puts you in charge of your career, through a mix of career advice, management insights, tools, coaches and communities. Get in touch with us today!
Making a career change is a tremendous decision that requires thought and consideration. The decision can significantly affect your professional success, life satisfaction, and financial future. Unfortunately, too many people make career-switching mistakes that can have serious and long-lasting consequences.
You need to be aware of the common pitfalls that can derail your career trajectory, especially when you’re seeking to make a change. Understanding common career mistakes to avoid can help you make an informed decision and minimize the risk of damaging your prospects.
People switch careers for various reasons, such as making more money, pursuing a passion, or finding a better work-life balance. Although these reasons are valid, it’s important to remember why YOU are making the switch. Keep sight of your priorities and goals as you embark on this new journey.
One way to accomplish this goal is to create a career roadmap that includes your long-term career goals and the steps needed to get there. This will remind you of your priorities and help you stay focused and motivated.
Being unhappy at work can make you feel stuck and desperate for a career change. However, it’s important to take the time to assess your options and find a next role that is a better fit. Rushing into something new without researching and understanding what it entails can lead to disappointment and regret.
Take the time to research potential career paths, talk to people in the field, and do informational interviews. These steps will help you better understand the path you’re considering and determine if it is the right fit for you. Additionally, look into career coaching or take online courses to gain the transferable skill set needed for your new career direction. And if you’re still trying to decide whether your current role is the right fit for you, try our short quiz.
Switching careers might sound easier said than done, especially when you hear about others who have made a switch. Remember, everyone’s journey is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s best to properly assess your skills and interests, research potential career paths, and develop a plan for how you’ll make the switch.
You also need to be realistic about the time and effort it will take to make the switch. Don’t get ahead of yourself by expecting to make a career switch overnight. You may have to apply for jobs, attend networking events, and prepare for job interviews. Set realistic goals and be patient as you work toward them.
Pursuing a career change is a big decision, and it can be daunting. But with the right preparation and mindset, it can be a rewarding experience. Take the time to assess your options, lay out your plan, and be patient as you execute it.
People in your life will sometimes encourage – or even push – you to make a career switch. These could be family, friends, or even a mentor. While their advice is often well-intentioned, it’s important to remember that the career decision must ultimately be yours.
Don’t let yourself be compelled into making a career switch if it doesn’t feel right. Instead, consider all the options relative to your objectives and make an informed decision.
Career change is an arduous process that requires careful planning and preparation. It’s important to be aware of the most common mistakes that people make when changing careers, such as not taking the time to research a potential new path, not seeking input from others in that field, and not patiently working through the process. By avoiding these mistakes, you can take the right steps to ensure a successful transition into a new career.
PathWise allows you to be in charge of your career change. We guide you through exploring your options and developing an action plan to take the steps toward your new career. Get your career switch started with us today!
We hear a lot of questions regarding the average age of career changes. Is it 30? 40? 50? even 60? Making a career change can be challenging, especially as we get older. Starting over in a new industry or career field can be particularly intimidating when you’ve been in the same industry for years. So what’s the best age for career change? With the right approach, you can make a career change at any age and do it smoothly.
If you’re considering starting a new career or even switching careers, you might be wondering how to go about it in the most efficient way possible. Here are 10 easy steps that you can take to make the career transition as smooth as possible:
Before jumping into a new career path, make a structured assessment of your interests and skills. Think about what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing. This will give you an idea of your transferable skills and the kinds of job opportunities that you might want to pursue. There are a range of tools and surveys available to help you with this assessment, including the Strong Interest Survey and StrengthsFinder.
Once you’ve identified some possible career paths, it’s time to do some research. Look into the job requirements, salary range, work life balance, and potential advancement opportunities. Make sure this is a career path you’d be comfortable pursuing in the long term.
Once you’ve identified a career path, setting specific goals and planning for reaching them is essential. Set specific, timebound objectives. This could include taking classes, gaining experience, and applying for jobs.
A solid professional network is essential to making a successful career change. Start building relationships with people in the industry in which you’re interested. This could include attending networking events, joining professional organizations, and reaching out to contacts.
Talking to the average person already working in the field you’re considering can be a great way to get an inside look into your targeted industry or function. Ask questions about their experiences, job satisfaction, and what they wish they had known before they entered the field.
Experience is critical when making a career change. If you don’t have any background in the new field, you can try to gain some through job shadowing, internships, volunteer work, or part-time jobs before transitioning to full time.
Once you’ve researched and talked to people in the field, it’s time to revisit your action plan. Your revised plan should include the specific steps needed to make the transition, such as getting additional training or certifications.
Make sure that your resume is up to date and tailored to the new career path that you’re pursuing. Highlight any experience, skills, or education you’ve acquired relevant to the industry.
Once you’ve researched, set goals, and gathered experience, it’s time to take the leap with the career change. Don’t be afraid to take risks; recognize that it’s never too late to pursue a change.
Making a career change can take time, so be patient. Don’t expect to land your dream job overnight. It may take months or even years of time and effort to find the perfect job. Be persistent and focused on your goals.
Making a career change at any age can be tricky, but it’s possible with a bit of planning and dedication. Follow these easy steps to make the mid career transition as smooth as possible.
PathWise provides a comprehensive suite of career management solutions to help individuals take control of their professional lives. With our mix of insights, tools, coaches, and community, PathWise puts members in the driver’s seat regarding their careers. Whether you need advice on how to find the right job, build your network, or advance your career, PathWise can help. For more information about career change processes, contact us today.
Are you contemplating a career transition? Does a feeling of drudgery start creeping into your system every Sunday evening? Perhaps you’re dreading meetings and projects for the upcoming week.
Maybe you’re asking yourself, “Why am I staying here? Is there possibly something better out there?”
During the pandemic, many people had a chance to step away from their positions and ask these questions. Many found themselves answering, “Yes! There is something better for me.” For other people, the answer is more nuanced, related to burnout or recalibrating their career path.
How to decide what is really the best way to proceed in your career? If you think of your career as a journey, there is the possibility of many options and interesting paths that could all be worth exploring.
Similar to the planning for any journey, I encourage you to define where you currently are, ask, “What is the real purpose of my journey?” and decide if you are on the right path. This article will focus on honing your career decision-making process and the important factors in planning the journey that’s right for you.
Many factors can lead you to become a career changer. It could be burnout, feeling stuck, lack of engagement, or a change in your life situation. Often people have found they desire more meaningful work or flexibility to create a more balanced lifestyle. Don’t ignore the uncomfortable feeling of discontent in your gut when thinking about your career – you are not alone.
Research shows that we master the skills and experiences of a position after a couple of years and will experience boredom and a need for change about every 3 years. Our minds want to grow and learn. Harvard Business School also found that having some sense of meaning in your work is vital to job satisfaction. Another area of huge importance is relationships at work. We are social creatures that crave healthy relationships!
When you are taking a journey and begin to feel lost it is tempting to take the first exit. However, this could get you extremely off course or look like the right path, but in reality, become a dead-end road. Worrying about taking the wrong road often leads to clutching the steering wheel and just continuing in the same direction because it feels familiar.
Before heading out or at least continuing in the same unsatisfying direction, first evaluate the problems with your current position. Then try identifying the best path for you, one that leads towards a destination you are looking forward to experiencing. And how do you do that? Start with an accurate picture of your current situation and explore the assets, values, and motivators that help you define where you would like to go.
If you look at your current role. How is your current work experience? Are you bored and no longer seeing ways to grow and develop in your current career field?
Think back over your career, and you’ll probably see a pattern of new opportunities and responsibilities that offered you growth in the past. You may have outgrown your position. Or you may have outgrown your organization.
Often disgruntled employees discover they no longer believe in the company’s purpose. This can occur if an organization becomes toxic and either engages in unethical behaviors, disrespects employees, or has unrealistic goals that employees frantically try to achieve, resulting in sacrificing self-care and burn-out.
If your current situation lacks growth, you no longer align with the mission and vision, or you do not feel safe or respected, then that is a clear sign that you should consider a job change. If not all apply, then perhaps you can find a way to better align yourself within the organization. If you are unsure, it may be time for self-exploration.
Some people progress down the wrong path and stay too long because they can’t figure out how to get off and the pain is not great enough to force a move. Often the reason is that the path has gone askew and the necessary course correction is not clear.
One reason may be that we have not stayed in the driver’s seat of our career. You may find yourself heading down the completely wrong path doing work that others wanted you to do but is no longer tied to your values and motivators.
As a career coach, I have time and again had clients who fell into positions that used a skill they were good at but did not give them much joy. They agreed to projects where they were praised by others even though it drained their energy.
Does this sound familiar to you? In these situations, it is actually quite easy to follow others since the road is mapped out step by step and looks familiar. People often stay in the same career but jump from one organization to the next, misreading the road signs.
It’s time to get back in the driver’s seat and take control of your own career satisfaction. Start by asking, “Where did I get off track? Where did I stop paying attention to what I found interesting and motivating to me?”
Before exiting, spend your time evaluating if any part of this unhappiness is able to be turned around at your current organization. What if you take control of your choices and lay down your own road with specific directions laid out for others so they can support you on this path? There are often many ways to create more fulfilling options within your own company once you know what to look for and how to describe the path to others.
To more accurately evaluate if your current organization still holds options for you, it is important to be clear on your desired journey. Burnett and Evans, in Designing Your Life, recommend that the first thing to do is build a compass. Ask yourself who you are, what you believe, and what you are doing, and then look for any incongruences. They suggest taking time to evaluate what work means to you, the importance of money, and the value of growth and fulfillment.
Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology, uncovered in his research that people who found a connection between their work and something socially meaningful for them found much more life satisfaction. Often we ask the wrong question, “What is the ideal job?” when really we should ask, “What do we enjoy doing currently?”
What is the best part of your day? Start by asking what brings you joy when you play and when do you feel in flow where time just slips away? What gives you energy and what drains you? What motivates you and feels meaningful?
There are several tools to help you with this process, start by figuring out the why. One exercise is to think of times in your past when you had a perfect day and everything clicked. Take some time to notice when and where you have felt most energized.
This could have been during work, a hobby, or vacation. Consider what you were doing and the surrounding environment. Get curious about what you were enjoying, what was important to you, and how you were motivated. It’s often helpful to write down the best parts.
Can you identify how you added value and what skills and strengths you were using? Then compare to assessments of your motivators and what you describe as purposeful uses of your time.
Combining all this information gives you the foundation for uncovering your desired path. If you find that identifying what is important to you, your key strengths, and where you get energy is challenging, I would recommend delving into some structured career assessment tools. If you have gained some clarity about motivators, values, and strengths then you have uncovered the fundamental parts of your career compass. The ultimate goal of this compass-building is to find congruency between the life you want to live and your career path.
Armed with a new lens of self-information, take the satellite view in evaluating your current work situation. In comparing what you are doing now with your new career vision, can you find a tie to some of your motivators and energy builders within your current position, department, or organization? Through the new lens, can you uncover any congruence, opportunities for growth, and learning that is inspiring for you?
At the top of this article, we mentioned other causes of job dissatisfaction such as burnout, boredom, and lack of fulfillment. If these sentiments still resonate, then explore what is missing that is important to you and notice how your energy is being zapped. Remember fulfillment includes not only what you do well but what you would like to keep doing. If it’s clear at this point that you are in the wrong place, then it’s time to create a new path.
Here’s the catch, though. None of this exploration will point to the exact perfect position within the perfect organization. It merely lays the groundwork to help you clarify, evaluate, and choose which paths to explore or cross off the list. You have already started this process by building your compass and determining what you hope to experience on this journey.
You may choose to explore some side roads, tangential paths that are closely associated with a strength, a passion, or special talent. If you have jumped onto someone else’s path, take some time to reconnect with your strengths and skills. As you enter the exploration phase, look for people you admire, interesting ideas, fun professional projects, or even hobbies to dive into and test out possible career options. There are myriad ways to define and act upon the next career path.
When charting your career path, build and use your personal compass to help you understand the career satisfaction aspects for which you’re actually looking, uncover the draining tasks or skills traps and connect to motivators. Armed with a good compass and a clear action plan for your trip, your career journey will be filled with growth opportunities, successful career change options, and places to let your strengths shine.
Check out our other career content at PathWise.io
By Heather Wilkerson
Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. Designing Your Life.
Annie McKee. The Happiness Trap. Harvard Business Review.
Shelcy V. Joseph. Should You Stay At Your Current Job? Forbes.
Almost all of us contemplate whether to make a career change at some point in our professional lives, some of us more than once. It’s probably easier – and more socially acceptable – than it ever has been to do so, but making a successful career change requires thought and work.
There are a variety of reasons that lead people to contemplate a career transition. While each of us will have our own rationale, Joblist’s Midlife Career Crisis Survey indicates that the top five reasons are:
You might also consider a career change as your values or career goals change, after getting laid off, or when your family situation changes, such as might be driven by illness, an aging parent, or a relocation.
Many of the recent articles written on career change make the process seem liberating. You get to free yourself from the shackles of your current situation, you get to leave it all behind, you get to rediscover yourself, etc.
But the truth is that successfully making a career change is more difficult than that. It can be daunting, confusing, and stressful. As career transition coach and “Career Relaunch” podcast host Joseph Liu describes his own situation in an article for Forbes,
“Make no mistake, career pivots involve more friction, disruption, and risk than simply staying on a more linear, traditional career path. Having experienced the emotional ups and downs of navigating career changes myself during the past two decades of my professional life, I’m now focused on understanding what it takes to successfully reinvent yourself.”
Wondering how to make a successful career change? With this context, and with the words of poet Mary Oliver in mind – “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – we lay out 12 steps to a successful career change:
Before you make the leap, consider your reasons for wanting to make a career change:
Be structured and diligent about this evaluation. As helpful, keep a journal or talk over your thoughts with family and friends.
If you need some prompts for how to consider you overall career health or the fit of your current situation, check out one of our free career assessments. You can also take a more holistic look, covering your values, interests, strengths, and personality type.
Some assessments that cover these areas are free, but the more research-based ones typically carry a modest fee of $20-50. Note as well that some (such as Myers-Briggs) must be delivered by a certified practitioner, which may add a further cost.
If ever there is a time to hire a career coach, it’s when you’re considering a career change. Many coaches focus just on this topic.
They can offer a wealth of advice and “war stories” from having seen their other clients go through similar journeys. They will help you sharpen your thinking and avoid the common pitfalls. In this light, they are well worth the investment.
You’ll hear many people say, “Pursue your passion, and the rest will follow.” It’s not that simple, and there is even some research offered by author and professor Cal Newport to suggest that people who merely follow their passion are actually less satisfied in the end.
A better mental model comes from the Japanese concept of Ikigai, which roughly translates into “reason for being” and asks you to consider four questions:
Ikigai forces you to blend together your passion, mission, vocation, and profession into your overall reason for being.
In his article for Forbes, Joseph Liu talks about conducting a period of “open exploration without expectations.” Suspend judgment and give non-traditional ideas consideration. You can also consider more creative ways to learn about your potential career options through a job shadow or part-time role before jumping into full time work.
One former colleague was considering a shift into venture capital and took two weeks’ vacation to work for a firm that was willing to give her a shadowing opportunity. She quickly discovered that she wasn’t going to like venture capital and went in a different direction instead. By doing the job shadow (albeit at the expense of her vacation time), she was able to avoid going down a path that wasn’t going to be right for her.
As you’re working to figure out the what, one helpful thought exercise is to write your future autobiography. Picture yourself in the later years of your life. How would you want to describe your professional life and accomplishments to your children, grandchildren, or broader world?
Once you have a sense of the change you want to make, dig in and do your research. Accept that no shortcuts exist and commit to a steady march, not a rush.
In Episode 5 of our “Career Sessions, Career Lessons” podcast (available March 7), Chicago restaurateur Rohini Dey discusses her own shift from a career in management consulting into the restaurant business. Along the way, she spoke to dozens of people in the restaurant business and even shadowed a restaurateur to really understand what it would take to be successful. Those conversations helped prepare her for what was a fairly radical change in career direction.
Making a career change is a goal. Treat it like any other goal, with specific objectives, interim milestones, timelines, and execution specifics.
Assess the risks and the assumptions you’re making. Be clear on what it means for you and for those around you. Then build in regular steps, akin to the sort of incremental improvement that James Clear discusses in Atomic Habits.
In addition to your primary plan, have a back-up plan. This is particularly important if you’re embarking on a risker path and expect a period of financial uncertainty. It’s always good to have a contingency plan in your back pocket.
If you’re contemplating a significant change, you’re likely going to need to re-position yourself. Evaluate if your existing strengths and experience will be transferable skills relevant in your new chosen direction.
Conduct this exercise on your own, and seek input from others who know you as well. They may see a side of you (good or bad) that you don’t see in yourself, and having that knowledge can only help you as you consider how to evolve your professional brand. Once you’ve identified the changes you need to make, apply them consistently, such as in your social media profiles and your CV/resume and cover letters.
If you’re making a more significant career change, your existing network is going to be less likely to be able to help you, since it will be a product of your career experience to date.
With that in mind, be deliberate about expanding your network. Find the friends of friends and the experienced pros who are willing to make time for you. If approached in the right fashion, most people will do so. When you meet with them, ask them who else they would suggest you meet and if they’d be willing to make an introduction.
You can also expand your network by joining a professional association (or even an informal MeetUp-type group) in your chosen new space. Jump into some relevant online communities, or attend a conference. Many prior conferences also post videos that are available online.
In all likelihood, you are going to bring a partial set of necessary skills to the new path. Take stock of the skill set you’re going to need and what you have. Address the gaps, through formal educational programs or via the many instructional videos or online courses that are available to you. Job shadows, internships, or contract roles can also help in this regard.
Set out regular micro-steps, even imperfect ones. Be willing to accept small mistakes as learning opportunities. Track your progress and what you’re learning as you go. Iterate and adapt, and bring yourself closer to the end goal with each adaptation.
While making a career change takes care, thought, and real work, the good news is that most people come through the process better off, as evidenced in the Joblist survey data, where people reported being:
In addition, the career changers were making modestly more money, about $11,000 annually compared with their previous positions.
Best of luck to you as you embark on an exciting new path!
Sources and suggested further reading:
If you’ve recently finished school and are joining the full-time work force, welcome! You’re going to be spending a good portion of your adult life in the working world, so commit to making a good start.
From hiring and mentoring literally hundreds of new grads over the years, we’ve observed what distinguishes the best ones. Some of these young men and women have gone on to phenomenal careers: leading companies, bringing new innovations to life, and making a positive impact on the world. Very few things are as rewarding as watching someone you hired right out of school go on to such greatness.
Drawing on our observations, we’ve put together a list of tips for starting your first job out on the right foot. Without further ado, here they are:
1. First, some expectation setting. There are a few things you should accept.
2. Make the right first impression. Treat everyone with whom you work with respect. Say hello when you arrive each day and goodbye when you leave. Be friendly with and learn the names of the supporting cast around you who quietly do their jobs on your behalf, such as security, cleaners, and receptionists.
Arrive early to work and to meetings on time, if not a few minutes early. Be relentlessly responsive. Don’t ask for special treatment. Don’t traffic in gossip, and don’t speak negatively about your colleagues. In short, make it clear to everyone around you that you are a consummate professional. Do this and you’ll make a good first impression with your colleagues.
3. Work at fitting in… Learn the rules during the onboarding process – read the employee handbook if there is one. (In most instances now, it will be online.) Figure out the company culture and work environment. Is it formal or informal? Hierarchical or flat? Conservative or liberal?
Adapt to your boss’ style as well, particularly with respect to how he or she likes to communicate – in terms of method, frequency, level of detail, and even time of day. Take note of how people dress, and select your work clothing accordingly. Remember the adage, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”
If you have tattoos, or body piercings, or brightly colored hair, get a sense (ideally before you take the job) if they will be acceptable. Many workplaces are becoming much more open to varying looks but not all are. If your appearance is going to be an issue, you’ll either need to change it or consider finding another employer that better lets you be you.
4. …and also at standing out. Develop at least an initial view of what you want your personal brand to be – what you want to be known for, and how you want to be seen.
Tap into your strengths. If you’re a master party planner, offer to organize a team outing or the company holiday party. If you’re into sports, join or set up a company team.
Become the go-to person for something important, like producing a particular management report that’s regularly reviewed by a senior exec. Particularly in big companies that hire a large number of recent college students, it’s the things you do to positively can make a great impression which can get you noticed by the higher-ups. These things often have the potential to become catalysts for putting you on an accelerated track.
5. Mind the (blurry) line between work and life. Decide how you want to position work in the context of your broader life. For some new grads, the early working years are a time where they’re willing to work extra hard and learn as much as they can, before they have other obligations to manage (like a family) that will require re-prioritizing work.
Make sure your expectations for work are aligned with your manager’s and your employer’s more broadly, again ideally before you accept the job. If you don’t want to work long hours, for example, you probably shouldn’t take a job with an investment bank or consulting firm.
Inversely, be careful about how much of your outside life you bring into work. We’re all human: we all have a life outside of work, we all have challenges, and we all have bad days. Still, do your best to maintain a sense of professionalism when you’re at work.
Some of your co-workers will certainly be willing to lend a sympathetic ear at times, but don’t treat them as your therapists. Don’t overplay your weekend exploits. We were all young and fun once (really), and we have all done some foolish things in our youth, but it’s better if you’re known at work more for your actual work than for your play.
Be mindful of how you use social media: LinkedIn is a work-focused platform. Particularly if you list your current role in your headline, when you say something on LinkedIn, you are implicitly representing your employer. Most other social media platforms are more personally oriented. Keep them distinct. Above all, never put yourself or your employer in a bad light by doing or saying something unforgivable on social media.
6. Build good habits. Make sure how you approach work aligns with your values. Don’t let your job turn you into someone you’re not.
The late Clay Christensen is known for sharing a story that he wouldn’t work on Sundays because that was a day of faith for him. He indicated he was more than willing to put in extra hours on any other day to make up for what might otherwise need to be done on a Sunday, but Sundays were sacred for him – literally – and he never, ever compromised on this point.
Determine what’s sacred to you and stand firm to protect it. As well, build relationships (and your network) before you need them. It’s always easier to ask someone for something if they already know you and you’ve previously built “relationship capital” with them.
Be humble and be a team player. When you make a mistake, admit it, and figure out what you should have done differently. Don’t get so focused on getting ahead that you trample over your colleagues. From the beginning, and throughout your career, remember where you came from and who helped you get to where you are.
7. Be open:
8. Be patient. In all likelihood, you’re not going to experience a meteoric rise to become the next Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, or Mark Zuckerberg (sorry). The vast majority of us have to put in the hours and the years. Promotions aren’t automatic: they’re earned and they’re in limited supply. Get clear on what’s needed to advance and put in the work.
9. Be fearless. Bring your energy, your passion, your fresh perspective and your commitment. Exude confidence (without being seen as arrogant).
As Teddy Roosevelt said 100 years ago (with an upfront apology for his early 20th century male-centric references): “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
10. Take a long-term view. Entrepreneur and investor Mark Ein puts it well: “It’s a small world and a long life. Treat people well, build relationships, develop your reputation and take a longer-term view about your decisions and actions…The deeper you go into your career, the more you[‘ll] appreciate that it isn’t just your recent history that matters but the full body of your life’s work that [determines] your opportunity set and your ability to most effectively pursue those opportunities. Build a broad network of strong, trusted relationships and be known as someone who people eagerly want to collaborate with…Along the way, avoid the short-term wins that may hinder your long-term goals and trust your internal compass to keep you on your path to your true north.”
Whether you use these tips for your first day at a new job or for the rest of your life, best of luck to you, and again, welcome to the working world!
“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” – Meister Eckhart
Making change is hard. Jumping into something new professionally almost always evokes a mix of both excitement and nervousness. If you know you’re ready for a change, it’s easier to make a switch, but it’s often still not easy.
Think back to the first days of your current job, or when you first started working, or your most recent first date, or going off to college, or even your first day of school. So much is new and unfamiliar. You feel like all eyes are on you, and you’re hyper-sensitive to the importance of making a good first impression.
To make a change, you must first ask basic questions and rely on your past experience and gut instincts. As you are in unfamiliar territory, you may feel vulnerable, so it takes courage to make a change.
For all of these reasons, new beginnings can be intimidating, but they can also be rewarding. They drive a combination of psychological responses. They can help you get unstuck, break old habits, and gain a sense of renewal. Because you know little about your new environment, you’re emotionally more open to change, both in yourself and in how you experience the world around you.
You form new habits, ones that could be good (like being less jaded about work) or bad (like doing too much partying when you first started college).
For some people, these psychological responses are terrifying. As a consequence, they tend to stay in work (and life) situations too long. They choose the familiar over the unknown. This phenomenon is likely the origin of the saying, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t,” an expression that goes back at least 500 years.
If you fall into this category of people, you need to recognize it in yourself. While it’s easier for you to stick with what you know, it can be limiting and in some cases toxic. It’s important for you to create mechanisms that trigger an objective assessment of your current state, such as carving out time periodically to ask yourself,
Other people have quite the opposite response. They thrive on the excitement of new beginnings. For them, it creates a rush, and as a result they are constantly changing jobs, pursuing multiple opportunities, starting new hobbies, or jumping into new relationships.
For them, the “grass is always (or often) greener on the other side.” If you feel you fall into this category, you should ask yourself a different set of questions, such as,
Overall, it’s important to be open to the opportunities enabled by new beginnings but thoughtful about them as well.
Be clear on what you’re giving up and what you’re getting – both the good and the bad. Make a list of pros and cons if that’s helpful. Talk to your friends and family to develop a peer-reviewed plan for managing through the changes. Give yourself and those around you the time and space to adjust to these changes.
Be purposeful about the new habits you want to form and those you want to break. Leave your current situation in a dignified fashion – don’t “burn bridges,” so to speak. You might change your mind later, and you never know who in your current world might re-emerge later in your life. If you do decide to make a change, do so with confidence and conviction.
Believe in yourself, and remember that we all make changes in our professional and personal lives, and we all go through those periods of unfamiliarity. Best of luck to you, and thanks for reading!
If you’re considering a professional change, we can help.