The Post College Professional

The Top Steps to Take at Every Career Stage

Posted by Michelle McGuire on May 04, 2020

Tags: Your next career move

Succeeding in your career involves more than just having a job you love, although that’s certainly a huge plus. You have to take deliberate steps along the way to develop both personally and professionally. No matter what stage of your career you’re in, here are the top actions to take to ensure you’re always moving forward: 

When you’re junior, you should:

  • Raise your hand for any opportunity. Look at every day as an opportunity for growth. By volunteering yourself for different opportunities, you’ll learn more and your manager will know you’re someone they can rely on. This means your name is at the top of the list for the next best opportunity or promotion.
  • Grow your core skills. In the beginning of your career, it’s essential to nail the basics. Take time to grow the technical skills you need to get your job done and the soft skills you need to succeed, like leadership, communication, and feedback. 
  • Track what brings you joy. Life’s too short to do things that don’t make you happy. Keep a list of the type of work you like doing and reflect on the type of environment you thrive in. Both of these things are critical in choosing the best possible career and company for you.
  • Build your professional brand. Buy a domain name and build a website showcasing your expertise, even if it’s just a landing page. It only increases your level of professionalism and you never know when it’ll come in handy in your next job hunt.
  • Try freelancing or a side gig. The gig economy is only going to continue to grow. Use freelancing as a way to hone your expertise or a side gig to explore your other interests.

When you’re mid-level, you should:

  • Reassess your path. Do you feel like you’re getting what you want out of your job? It’s never too late to pivot in a new direction by switching companies or career paths. In fact, you should consider switching companies every few years to increase your salary and title
  • Refine your skill set. While the beginning of your career was about growing a wide set of skills, this stage is about playing to your strengths. Consider going to graduate school or taking additional certifications to gain expertise in your chosen niche. 
  • Find your leadership style. Knowing who you are as a leader is critical in helping your team succeed. Take advantage of any professional training at work and use professional assessments for leadership tips and tricks.   
  • Take networking more seriously. Join associations, attend networking events, and go to relevant conferences. You’ll not only position yourself as a leader in your field, you’ll grow your professional network. 
  • Focus on work-life balance. It’s common to start a family at this stage of your career. If you do take a break from your career, make sure you stay connected with your network so you can easily transition back into work. 

When you’re an executive, you should:

  • Be a mentor. This is the perfect stage to use your expertise to develop others. Not only will you help your mentee grow, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for your own career path by having to explain it to someone else.
  • Find a way to give back. You’re in the perfect position to give back. Figure out a way to volunteer your expertise or resources to causes and companies you care about. 
  • Not become outdated. Don’t use your seniority as an excuse to not stay up to date on the latest trends and technology in your industry. You should always add to your expertise, no matter what stage of your career you’re in. 
  • Leave a legacy. What do you want people to remember you for? Focus on those big projects that you know will continue to impact the industry long after you leave. 
  • Think about your ideal retirement. Retirement is an exciting step full of possibilities. Start thinking about what you might want to fill your time with, whether that’s part-time work, a hobby, or a lot of relaxation. 

Although your career path is unique to you, a lot of the steps we take are universal. What matters most is that you never stop challenging yourself to grow as you move forward in your career.

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