If you're anything like me, you know that there is always room to improve. Always! Even if you have already found your dream job or career, there are steps you can take to move forward - remember, if things stay the same for too long, you'll become stagnant!
Here is a list of 33 things that you can do today to improve your career. You can start at the beginning of this list and move through the items in order or pick one or two that take your fancy and start with those. The main thing is that you don't spend too much time thinking about it. Start making a change for the better today!
EDIT: Since originally posted, this article has garnered some attention on Pinterest and has been shared over 5000 times! To celebrate, I turned this post into an ebook and included 17 additional career improvement ideas AND a handy checklist so that you can keep track of what you have completed. You can get your copy of the ebook by clicking the image below.
1. Read a book
Of course, I don't just mean any book! Pick up a new business, career or personal development book and note down any a-ha moments. I am currently reading Playing Big by Tara Mohr.
2. Reach out to an influencer
Is there someone in your industry that you'd like to connect with? Perhaps they are someone you would like to learn from or collaborate with? Stop wasting time thinking about it - Reach out to them and set up a meeting! Mattie James from Mattieologie shares some useful tips for writing amazing emails in this post.
3. Update your Resume
I recommend that you always have an up-to-date resume. After all, you never know when an opportunity might come knocking on your door and if it does, you don't want to be behind the 8-ball. Sign up for my free Detox Your Resume course and get started immediately!
4. Create a Portfolio
I am such a huge fan of portfolios and not just for people in creative positions. This one should be at the top of your list and just like point 3, there is no point waiting until you are ready to apply for a job. Be proactive and create your portfolio so that it is ready when your dream job becomes available and you need to make a play for it.
5. Attend a Networking Event
Networking events are great for meeting new people and keeping up to date with what is happening in your industry and your town. If networking isn't really your thing, enlist a friend to come along and make it into a game. See who can make the most connections or be each other's wingman and help each other get introduced.
6. Ask for a Testimonial
I know, you have heard me rabbiting on about testimonials before, but they truly are a powerful way for you to get your message across! If you don't follow me on Instagram, head on over and keep your eyes peeled as I will be sharing more of my own testimonials... just like these ones:
7. Enrol in a Course
Studying is a fantastic way to improve your skills and your career opportunities. Remember though, that not all study has to cost a bomb! These days there are so many free and low cost options online, with courses available on any subject. I have been learning how to code with Codecademy, which has been so helpful and is totally free!
8. Set up Google Alerts
Google Alerts are brilliant for staying on top of what is happening in the world. They are so easy to set up and you can have news articles sent to you as frequently as you like! Set up alerts for your current employer, dream employer or industry and sit back while the news flows straight into your email inbox.
9. Send a Thank You Note
If you have ever been on the receiving end of a thoughtful thank you note, you will understand what a lovely gesture it is. If one of your friends or colleagues has done something to help you out recently, show them how much it meant to you. Want to go one step better than a thank you note? Think about sending a thank you present. Check out La'Quar for some clever, personalised gift ideas.
Want to move forward with your career, but not sure how? Check out these 33 ideas!
10. Ask for an introduction
Does one of your friend's friends work for your dream company? Perhaps your cousin's boyfriend's sister is a local influencer in your industry? You should ask for an introduction! Seriously, what have you got to lose. The worst thing that could happen is they could say no. If they say yes though, a thank you note or a small gift wouldn't go astray... just sayin'.
11. Meet with your Manager
Sure, you probably meet with your manager all the time. But what if you scheduled a specific timeslot to talk about your career and your plans to develop? Your manager is perfectly placed to be able to assist you with your development plans and might even have some ideas that you haven't thought of. Go on, book some time in their calendar now!
12. Define Your PPV
Yep, that is short for Purpose, Vision and Values. You have probably heard me talk about this in the past and you may even know that I have written a short ebook on the subject. Click here to get access to the ebook and start deep diving into defining your purpose, vision and values today!
13. Create a Career Plan
You probably aren't new to planning. I imagine you probably write shopping lists and maybe even have a planner you use to keep track of your appointments. But have you ever taken the time to plan your career? If not, take some time, sit down and start today. You can write about it, doodle or cut and paste images. Be clear about your goals, set some milestones and make time to get stuff done!
14. Help a friend or colleague
Want to be on the receiving end of one of those thank you notes we talked about? Helping a friend or colleague is not only a great way to earn "brownie points" but it can also help you to get clearer on your strengths, passions and expertise! Think about what your friends usually come to you for advice on... is this related to your current career or could it be something to consider in the future?
15. Watch a TED Talk
Who doesn't love a good TED talk? I certainly do. I love to listen to TED talks while I am working or when I am in the car. Here is one of my favourite TED talks at the moment - I have watched it a few times and it just makes so much sense! Note: This is especially valid if you are thinking about any of the points on this list and you aren't taking action!
16. Catch up on your favourite career blogs
Favourite career blog? Pop Your Career of course! Blogs are just another way to absorb information and are super popular because of the fact that the information usually comes with a side of opinion. You might also want to check out Career Contessa and Levo.
17. Read the News
Now, we have already talked about setting up Google Alerts and other ways to keep abreast of what is happening in your industry, but take a moment now to think about the broader world. You know, politics, current affairs... that sort of stuff. I know that a lot of the news is dark and gloomy, but you need to know what is going on outside your bubble - even if only to make small-talk a little more bearable.
18. Get Published
What better way to establish yourself as an authority or thought leader in your industry!? Either consider starting your own blog or submit articles to industry publications. Don't forget to include the finished product in your portfolio!
19. Develop Your Personal Brand
Personal branding is all the rage! Now that we have the internet and social media, so much more of our lives are becoming public and it is important to make sure that whatever you are putting out into the world is reflective of your own personal brand. What message are you trying to get across? Is your brand facilitating that message or damaging it? Check out this post from Forbes.com for more info.
20. Work on Your Elevator Pitch
Your elevator pitch is an introductory blurb that you use to tell people about yourself and what you do. The idea is that you should be able to get through your elevator pitch in 30 seconds or so - the length of an elevator ride. Now, whether you are a fan of the elevator pitch, or the escalator pitch, I don't mind, as long as you have the words ready and available to explain what it is you do!
21. Upgrade your Work Wardrobe
If you were looking for an excuse to go shopping, here it is! Are your shoes looking a little ragged? Hems on your trousers starting to fall? Makeup stains on the insides of your collars? It is time to upgrade your work wardrobe so that you are dressing for the job you WANT! You also might want to read up on my post about Personal Presentation, as your clothing is not where this matter ends...
Check out this EPIC post - 33 things you can do today to improve your career!
22. Have lunch with a colleague
And I don't just mean your mate Candice, whose desk is next to yours. (BTW, if you don't have your own Candice, you should get one - they are well fun!) I am talking about moving outside of your normal comfort zone and lunching with someone who you don't usually chat with. This can be really helpful if you are trying to find out more information about the company you work for (from someone who has been there longer than you) or about how something is done (from someone in a different work area). It is also a superb demonstration of proactivity, which is sure not to go unnoticed.
23. Do a 360 degree review
So, we all know about performance reviews, but what about if you have staff reporting to you? Have you ever conducted a 360 degree review where you ask your staff to provide feedback on your performance as a manager? If not, start today! You might even choose to use a tool like SurveyMonkey to collect the responses so that your staff can remain anonymous.
24. Meet with a recruiter
Sometimes recruiters can have... well... less than positive reputations. Just check out this innocent google search and the predictive responses below to see what I mean. One thing about recruiters though, is that they are often very hard workers and do whatever it takes to make sure they are up to date with industry knowledge. Want to get an insight into what is happening within the market? Offer to take a recruiter for coffee and ask them to spill the beans!
25. Take a time out
A break. A siesta. A vacation. You might be wondering how this can help your career? Well, employers give paid holiday leave for a reason. They know that employees need to take holidays in order to feel rested and in turn work to their full potential. If you aren't feeling at the top of your game, it might be time for a short time-out or you might be ready for an all out holiday! Listen to your body and take time off when you need it!
26. Do something different
Um... vague much? Do something different? What I mean here is that you should do something different to what you usually do, or, do something a different way. By changing things up, you are stimulating your brain and promoting the production of new, innovative ideas! So, take a different route to work, hand write your to-do list instead of typing or try exercising during your lunch break. See what happens as a result.
27. Brainstorm ideas
I love a good brainstorming session, especially when other people are involved. Although I am a serious introvert, I love working with others, bouncing ideas around and troubleshooting problems. Schedule a brainstorming session with your team and look at ways that you can do things more effectively.
28. Bring Morning Tea
Morning Tea is fabulous for team building as it gets everyone out of their seats, mingling over some tasty snacks. This is an opportunity for you and your colleagues to find out a bit more about each other and you never know when you could help each other in the future! Just a word of caution... you might become known for your signature dish. Don't let the popularity go to your head! Haha! I am planning to take this to our next morning tea...
29. Start a Side Hustle
Are you looking for a little bit on the side? A side hustle is one way for you to embrace your creativity and tap into skills that you don't get to use in your 9 to 5. Traditionally a side hustle is when you start your own business outside of your day job, but it could also be a second job or a volunteering gig - anything that you do on top of your full-time role to either make a bit of extra money or fulfil your passions.
30. Create Systems and Processes
Is a lot of your work repetitive and time consuming? Do you have systems and processes in place in case someone else needs to take over part of your work? Have you ever considered batching your work to help you get more done? Paper and Oats is one of my favourite sites for all things productivity - they even run a monthly Batch Day to encourage you to embrace task batching!
31. Update Your LinkedIn Profile
I am no LinkedIn expert. In fact, LinkedIn is on my list of areas to explore in the second half of the year. It can, however, be crucial to your job search as employers are referring to LinkedIn as part of their hiring processes. I haven't purchased myself, but I have heard very positive things about the LinkedIn packages from both Job Jenny and Think Bespoke - both are on my wish list!
32. Join an Association
I could go on all day about the benefits of joining associations. In my early career I actually sat on the committee of a local association, which was an amazing way to make connections in the industry and become known for my work. Joining an association is also a way to build credibility and authority as they don't generally just let anyone in!
33. Hire a Career Coach
So hey, my name is Becca and I am the creator of Pop Your Career. I have just launched my career packages and would love the opportunity to work with you one-to-one on finding and securing your dream job, improving your near perfect career or starting up a side hustle. Click here to find out more information about my coaching packages!
Well, there you have it! 33 different ideas to improve your career today. Don't forget to download the free ebook and checklist with 17 more ideas - click here to get your copy.
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