You’ve started out in the world of work, and now you’re thinking of growing your career. Where do you start?
More and more frequently we are seeing stories about the ‘Quarter Life Crisis’. You may be aware of the signs; insecurities surrounding your career and relationships, feeling like you haven’t achieved much, disappointment, and loneliness.
This phenomenon doesn’t routinely strike as you hit that literal quarter milestone. Typically, people report experiencing these feelings somewhere within the decade between their mid-twenties and mid-thirties. These realisations tend to take effect shortly after entering the ‘real’ working world.
A lot of these negative feelings stem from insecurities surrounding money and career. Feeling like your career is not going as fast or in the direction you want it to, or that you are trapped in a role that you don’t like can really take its toll.
Whether you are experiencing this or not, we have put together some of our best advice to help you along your career path. Whether you’re looking for job progression, to increase your earnings, or are at a career crossroads we have some targeted, positive advice aimed at providing some answers for these and more.
You’re in charge of growing your career
Firstly, and most importantly, you are the person who is in charge of your career. Although there are lots of people willing to help you along the way, ultimately, you have to look for opportunities to develop and grow, take the initiative and ask for advice from more experienced people.
When it comes to taking that first step, remember that everyone has to start somewhere. Even if a job is not exactly what you want, it may be great for getting your foot in the door. Look for roles where you can start building some of the skills that you will need to actually get where you want to be. In your interview be open about what you would like to do in the future or which area you would like to work in. You may find that the company regularly looks to promote people and move them around. The job you embark on will probably not what you want to do forever but the company may provide these opportunities further down the line.
Identifying where you want to be
When it comes to your future, knowing where you want to end up can seem impossible. There’s such a wealth of jobs out there, you may not even be aware that the perfect job for you exists. In fact, the space is evolving at such a rate that maybe it doesn’t even exist yet!
The best place to start when you’re thinking of growing your career is by identifying a more general field of work you want to go into and the skills you’ll need to have. From there, try and figure out what skills you have which you could develop in the short term to help you get moving. Perhaps there is a new technology platform you could learn which could get you a job closer to that field?
Utilise the skills and technologies that you already have to use in your role. Do you have to use a CRM or database? In this case, you could ask to do some extra training. Maybe you could become a support colleague, or become an admin. Volunteering to learn the ins and outs of this technology could help get you into a leadership role in the future.
Ask yourself if there is anything you could learn outside of your 9-5? Could you learn to use photoshop skills as a hobby? Or could you do an online coding course?
Identify the roles people already do at your company. Is there anyone that does something related to what you want to do? If so then have a chat to them and see how they started out. You could even ask what people who have done your role in the past have gone on to do. It may not be what you want to do, but it could be interesting to see how they have used the skills they have developed to propel them into a different role.
Have a look at job adverts. For example, you know you want to go into the world of technology….reach out to a niche recruitment agency, such as Ignite Digital Talent and identify the type of roles that are currently available. On our website, you can filter jobs by skills. Look for a skill you currently have and see what type of roles demand that. It also gives you a good idea of the type of experience you need for those jobs, the roles available and the salaries they command.
Stay ahead of the game
One thing that is vital to remember when thinking about growing your career is that particularly in the world of technology, new technologies come out all the time. Older ones become obsolete so quickly that it is important you stay ahead of the game.
Take some initiative and learn new skills under your own steam. Don’t wait until you’re told to do it. Your employer will be grateful for your efforts and it’ll look even better if you’re the one that suggests it!
Develop skills you may not directly need. In many tech and IT roles you may not think you need marketing or sales skills but actually having those can really set you apart.
Switch up how you judge success
When you’re starting out your career and aren’t in the best position financially, it’s really easy to let yourself slip into the habit of thinking money is how you judge your success. You may constantly be looking for a pay rise, a new car or a luxury holiday. However, when you’re growing your career, try thinking of, and judging your success in different terms. Do you enjoy the job? Do you find fulfilment in it? Even if you don’t love it, are you good at it? Are you getting positive feedback?
If your employer recognises that you are working hard, are enthusiastic and are always looking for new ways to push yourself in your role then things like a pay rise will follow. If it doesn’t, and you decide that you would like to look for a role with a higher salary then that is when you should start looking for a new job.
Explaining to your employer that you have found a new job which utilises the skills you have and allows progression is positive and encourages discussion about your career path. Companies are having to restructure in the wake of digital transformation and as such, it could be that there could be scope to create a job role for you based around your skills.
Let your employer know where you want to be
Growing your career doesn’t always mean changing companies. If you let your employer know your career goals and ambitions then it may be that through training and development, your current skills could evolve into a role that is more fulfilling. They might be able to offer some insights into learning opportunities you can complete to get there, or extra responsibilities you can take on. If your line manager can’t help then maybe they can point you toward someone who can.
Look for a new job before you need it
Don’t wait until you absolutely can’t bear your role anymore before moving on. Getting to your breaking point will mean making a spontaneous decision based upon emotion and not one that is measured, calculated and informed. You are also more likely to leave on a “bad note” leaving you open to your employer exerting their right to employ their ‘bad leaver’ protocol….a reluctance to provide a reference for example. You are also far more employable while you are already employed. As such, you may be forced to move into a horizontal position in a different company and not actually move into a role that has more responsibility or one that is better paid.
Consider moving to a smaller company
In a large business it is more likely that there will be a team dedicated to a particular role. In a small company you need to be much more agile. You will need to be prepared to help out with things beyond your job requirements. In turn, this can lead to you getting much more experience and having to employ more skills. Your role will be more varied and will encompass a much bigger variety of tasks.
Being in a smaller company, you are much closer to the people in charge and therefore have a much more personal relationship with them. This makes it much easier for them to see the good work you’re doing leading to more personal conversations about your goals.
Another positive is that with a team of much fewer people, if they decide to implement new technologies, chances are no one is experienced in them so it is the perfect time to take the lead and develop.
When you’re thinking of growing your career, the people you know are a fantastic resource. Having a strong network and taking the opportunity to build it could be the key to the next step in your career.
In addition to this, you could try and find a mentor to help you with your career. It could be someone within the company or someone from outside work. Anyone who you look up to and has lots of experience could be useful to provide insights. Remember, many skills are transferable and so even those who are not directly involved in your desired sector could be a great resource.
Finally, develop your communication and leadership skills. Although you may prefer to work in a task-based way, if you are able to explain a complicated idea in plain English then that is a very valued commodity and one which may lead to great opportunities. This is especially true if you are looking to escalate into data science or analytics. Not everyone is mathematically minded. Your soft skills and ability to explain technical language to a layperson will go a long way in enabling a business to grow based on data and hard fact.
Go above and beyond
In your career, you will always stand out if you give that little bit extra than is required. This is particularly important in growing your career, If you are assigned a piece of work then complete it, but try and go a little bit further. It doesn’t have to be much, it could just be making your task a little easier for the end-user, or making your presentation look a touch more polished.
Another great way to stand out is to volunteer to take on the projects that no one else wants to. If a project is difficult or failing then no one really wants it. Turn it around and you will get noticed for all the right reasons.
Starting out on your career path can be daunting and hard. Even knowing where to start can be really tough, let alone growing your career.
If you are struggling, maybe we can help! At Ignite we are industry leaders and there is quite literally no tech, digital or data job we haven’t resourced!
We have placed seasoned “heads of” for massive household names, found graduates their first jobs and progressed candidates looking for the next career stepping stone.
Most importantly, remember that you don’t have to be in your dream job already, your career is a marathon, not a sprint. If you would like help to cross the finish line, reach out to Ignite today!