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Published On: Thu, Jul 30th, 2015

How to build a lasting career

Toyin Komolafe

Building a good career or making a good career choice is practically a lot more than choosing a job; it is about choosing something that will provide you with the lifestyle you seek. It is no news that in careers today that professionals change jobs more frequently than in previous generations. You need to be prepared and proactive in managing your career. The tips below provide you some solid strategies to achieve and advance you career goals whether you are just beginning, or you have several years of experience:

Don’t decide until you are ready

Too many young people are making no delay in making a choice before they are really sure of what it is they want to do. In fact, many young people don’t even know who they are, let alone what they are or what they want to become. Take off time to discover yourself and what you are good at. School doesn’t teach you a lot of life skills – life does! Many successful people take off time to slowly work out what it is that makes them flourishing and brings them fulfillment.

Curriculum Vitae (CV) and LinkedIn profile maintenance

Do not hesitate about updating your CV and continue to update it regularly. Write down your accomplishment from the past years. This will help you identify your market worth. Perhaps you already know this, LinkedIn is the world largest professional network – a modern and innovative concept, combining the realm of social network with the job market. Post your experience, education information and skills, just as you would on a CV or résumé. Always keep your LinkedIn profile up to date, and if you are yet to create one, you really have to do that now. This will help you visible in the job market with recruiters or hiring managers.

Keep your options open

Instead of attempting to narrow down your options, it can be helpful to keep open as many options as possible within your chosen field of expertise or profession. If you look for breath in your career choice, you gain flexibility as you and the job change. You can add a lot to your career by studying books and taking tutorials. Doing short term courses with certification tests might add valuable weight to your CV. For instance, if you want to be a marine biologist, why not consider taking a course in photography and writing as well, so that you can write or photograph stories about what is under the sea on a freelance basis. Keeping your options open might mean a little extra study but it will be worth it in the long run when you gain increased flexibility. Bear in mind, your current job is often the most valuable source of building new skills.

Realise your dreams

Don’t let a busy job kill your dreams. If you have higher goals, put them into action now. Don’t use your daily job as a ‘waiting station’, if your plans are about taking more education, getting a better job, starting a new job and so on. Your daily job can get busier, you will be caught up in the rat race and you will burn your energy without need. If the energy is there now, use it to realize your dreams.

Success takes hard work
Building a lasting career takes preparation and hard work. Thomas Edison once remarked that “a genius is a talented person who does his homework.” Bill Gates was a computer geek before he was catapulted into the limelight. Michael Jordan was a hardworking and determined high-school and college athlete before he became one of the greatest athletes of all time. These men are rich, but they devoted themselves to their work, have been willing to work hard, and haven’t been daunted by failure. They know that success depends on learning from mistakes and overcoming challenges.
It’s not enough to be ambitious. The world is filled with ambition. And the path to success is littered with discarded dreams and disillusioned people who never achieved the recognition or success they felt they deserved. It would be great to skip having to make investments of time, energy, and money in skill- and credential-building and go straight to the rewards.

Indeed, it’s wiser to think in terms of “everyday successes” or little wins, rather than focus on the giant jackpot. Little wins add up to big wins and are more easily achievable. They include the satisfaction of resolving a customer dispute, gaining a new skill, writing a report, getting a good performance appraisal, improving on an existing ability, and learning to handle constructive criticism. These little victories are the building blocks of a good reputation, the name you acquire for yourself through your work, Coderanch says.

Volunteer in your desired career

Zig Ziglar said, “What you do off the job determines how far you’ll go on the job”. There is no better way to know whether or not the career is for you than to just pitch in. It is more likely to happen if you take on such roles without payment, especially where the employer understands your motivations. If you can handle the work thrown to you and still want more, you are likely to reach your goal. Moreover, the network contacts built up during volunteer experience are priceless. If what you do is to show up for work everyday, do what is expected of you and go home, you are not going to make much progress in your career anytime soon. This is the kind of mentality that keeps people trapped where they are scratching their heads as to what it takes to get ahead in their careers.

Most people take the risk of playing it safe. This is a guaranteed way to remain ordinary and average. Real progress only happens when you start to veer outside the confines of your job description and your comfort zone. There are a number of things you could do to continually develop yourself; start a blog, volunteer somewhere, learn a new skill. All the above will contribute to your personal and professional development in a positive way. Someone once said: your tolerance for risk has a tremendous impact on your potential for success.

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