How to Boost Your Career

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"New Year, new start." You hear this phrase again and again when it's approaching the end of the year and there are many articles on the Internet offering advice on how to get a new job in the New Year. This article, however, focuses on what you need to do to advance your career in the long term. Having reviewed our resources on our Career Tools & Advice section, we have now developed the following top 5 tips which can help you boost and manage your career in the year ahead, be it a new job or your current job.

The Top 5 Tips are:

  1. Assess your strengths and weaknesses
  2. Develop your intent
  3. Create an action plan for 2011
  4. Build confidence by updating your CV
  5. Document your continuous professional development

1. Assess your strengths and weaknesses

A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis can help you to assess what you are good at and the areas you need to work on.

The SWOT analysis is a tool used in strategic planning and marketing, but it can also be applied to your career development, which has been mentioned by both Neil Harris in his article Career Audit and Melanie Allen in her Career Crisis series

Strengths and weaknesses are used to assess yourself. These include your skills, knowledge, experience and your motivation. Opportunities and threats are used to evaluate the environment around you, including issues arising in your working environment and industries. The table below shows an example of your career SWOT analysis:

Internal - About yourself Strengths Weaknesses
External - About your work
& Industry
Opportunities Threats

From the SWOT analysis, you need to determine how you can overcome your weaknesses and convert threats into opportunities. For example, you could take a course to develop a particular skill or obtain a professional qualification, or you can work from home in order to cut down travelling time and costs.

2. Develop your intent

Be clear about what you want to achieve in your career. Evaluate your current job and consider if this fits or if it's time for a change.

Your career intent is your long-term career goals. According to your SWOT analysis, write down what you want to achieve in 3 years, 5 years, and 10 years time in your career. Your career intent will give you a direction that you want to go on your career path. Your long-term intent can help you set realistic short-term objectives. Only by achieving the short-term objectives can you reach your long-term career goals.

You now need to evaluate your current work by asking the following questions:

  • What parts of my job satisfy me?
  • What parts of the current job don't satisfy me and how I can turn it around?
  • Am I able to achieve my short-term objectives and long-term goals in my current position?
  • If I can't achieve my objectives, what can I do to achieve them? By training for career development, staying in the same job but going on secondment, or changing job?

The answers to the questions vary and you have to make the career decision yourself in order to achieve your long-term career goals.

3. Create an action plan

Assess your ideas and establish realistic objectives for the year ahead accompanied by an action plan of how you can achieve these.

An action plan should contain the following:

  • S.M.A.R.T. objectives-Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time framed;
  • Actions and resources-you need to conduct and apply to achieve your objectives;
  • Review-this helps you to adjust your objectives and further development

4. Build confidence by updating your CV

A CV is not just for applying for a new job. Building a CV is an ongoing process. By updating it, you can build your confidence and understand how you can achieve your career goals.

Sections, such as personal profile, skills, and experience, need regular updating. The personal profile summarises who you are and what you want to achieve. The skills section lists your key skills to the specific job you are applying for, as does the experience section. You gradually develop your skills and enrich your experience in your career path. You don't always notice this but you will realise it while you are updating your CV. Building a CV is good practice, as it forces you to examine yourself and what you are especially good at (areas that make you stand out from others). Therefore, by constantly updating your CV your confidence will be raised

As a result of this, when you next apply for a job the application will feel a lot easier and you will have a stronger chance of getting the job you want, because you have been constantly reviewing yourself and building up your confidence by updating your CV.

Regarding how to write a CV, please read the articles on the Career Development section:

Applying for a Job Part 2: CV and Covering Letter

Academic CV Building: Where to Start

You've got 10 seconds to impress me - 10 things NOT to do on your CV

5. Document your continuous professional development

Updating your CV is one way to know yourself and build your confidence. To get a comprehensive picture of your career, it's helpful to use a step-by-step approach to record, reflect and review your professional development.

Continuous professional development (CPD) is an investment that you make in yourself. It's a way of planning your development that links learning directly to practice. By planning and reflecting on your learning experiences you'll accelerate your development and advance your career.

Documenting your CPD process systematically will help to plan, record and review your learning processes, boost your confidence and strengthen your professional credibility. has teamed up with Melanie Allen, a Career Coach and writer as well as an expert in CPD, to develop a simple step-by-step CPD guide for our jobseekers and career hunters.

The CPD guide provides a framework that you can use to track your professional development on an ongoing basis. To see more please visit our CPD eguide page.


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