Taking the next steps in your career

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Many of us change career several times over the course of our working lives. Whether you are early on in your career or have years of experience the guidance below can be applied when considering your next steps.

Self-assessment

Perhaps you are about to enter or re-enter the workforce. You might have been working for the same organisation for number of years. Take time to consider your current situation. What are you happy with at present and what do you want to change? What factors are influencing your career development?

Talking through your current situation and potential options can bring out a range of emotions including doubt, excitement, fear. It is important to recognise helpful and unhelpful thinking styles. Discussing your next steps with a friend, family member or careers professional can be a productive exercise.

Task A: Do a SWOT analysis on yourself in relation to your career. This self-assessment tool can help you to identify where your strengths lie and what potential opportunities and challenges are ahead.

Task B: Complete a competency assessment to reflect on the workplace tasks you are confident in and those you find a challenge. There are examples online or you can list all your current duties and rank them.

Explore different options

There are many options open to you when thinking about your next steps. You might want to remain with your employer and take on additional or different responsibilities. Would you consider returning to a previous employer with new skills and knowledge? What sectors might your skillset be useful in? Does working for a start-up interest you? Could contracting be a possibility?

Task: Invest time in researching your career interests and the options available to you. This can include searching online, networking with others, attending conferences and industry events and work shadowing.

Professional development

A willingness to learn and commitment to personal and professional development are sought after by employers. As part of your next steps, you can explore development opportunities in house and externally. Training, additional qualifications and conferences add to your credibility and give you access to a wider network and more career prospects. Many job roles require specific skills and knowledge which you will recognise through your job search.

Task A: If you are in employment, research what staff development opportunities you have access to. Task B: When searching for careers, identify the expertise you need and find out how you can work on this.

Network

Your network can be invaluable when taking the next steps in your career. Mentoring, collaborations, work shadowing and job offers are just a few examples of what networking can lead to. It is important to build and maintain relationships with individuals. Show a genuine interest in those who might be able to help you and find ways to support each other. Your network can be through university, work, co-curricular activities and social media.

Task: Think about who is in your network and how they could potentially be of value you.

Remember…

Career development can mean moving vertically or horizontally. You might want to explore a role that requires more technical expertise or move from managing projects to managing people. Take your time and make informed decisions by accessing the resources around you.

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