A traditional public library with books and study spaces

So you know that you want to do something to forward your career and get you out of that rut your in, but where do you start? Here are a few quick and easy steps to help you get your career sorted:

Think about what you want from your career?

What makes you happy in the office? What makes you unhappy in the office? What do you wish you knew more about? What sacrifices are you prepared to make? How long-term are your goals? What are you unhappy with right now? What changes do you need to make to be content in your career? Where do you want to be in the future?

There are rather a lot of questions to think about here, but spend a few weeks, perhaps on your commute home or while your cooking to think about where you see yourself in the near future.

Research

Now that you’ve more of an idea of where you’d like to be in the future, you need to figure out how to get there! You might not have a clue where to start, so see what’s out there in your industry and what’s the most respected form of upskilling. For some industries, it might be about experience whereas for others it might be about more formal qualifications. 

If you have no idea, you could look at dream jobs on e.g. LinkedIn and see what skills, experience and qualifications you’d need to get there, while you can also look up your idols and see specifically how they have navigated their career path.  If there’s someone in the office or someone you know personally that you can talk to about there experience of getting to where you want to be, face-to-face contact never goes amiss!

Try for size

The problem with upskilling is that you don’t really know whether it would exactly be for you until you start. Our advice would be to start small and build your way up. Short online courses, or one-day courses, are a great way to get a feel for whether you like a discipline. With MOOCs you can even just try one or two sessions and go from there. 

Tell you employer

The skills you gain from any training, courses and other forms of upskilling that you undertake will be beneficial to your employer so let them know about your intentions. They might be able to help you find the right path to upskilling and have advice for you, they might be able to offer funding, and if your efforts will take up a lot of time they might be able to be more lenient with your working hours.

Formulate a plan

Now you’ve got more of an understanding about how to get to where you want to be in the future, put a plan in place of how you are going to get there. Don’t think too long term, as in ten or fifteen years, but in incremental steps. For example, if you are looking to undertake a few short courses or a professional course, your goal might be to take on more responsibilities and experiences in the workplace in six month’s time having gained all your new skills, while if you are undertaking a Master’s you might want to look for a promotion or new job by the time you finish to complement your new skills. 

Make it a family affair

Let your family know of your intentions, what you are trying to do and where it will take you in the future so they'll also get on board. This will make it easy when you've got all your other commitments to juggle and you can plan for times in advance, for example if you have exams or essays due you might be able to get your partner to cook tea or you parents to pick the kids up from school for a couple of days to ease the pressure 

Commit your time

Get stuck in! Dedicate time and effort to your plan. 

Re-evaluate 

Are you getting out as much satisfaction from upskilling as you were hoping for? Can you really afford it? Are you strapped for cash? Is it taking up too much of your time that you can’t dedicate to your family or to your work commitments or is the studying overwhelming you? 

If you can’t keep up the level of upskilling you are undertaking, consider changing your programme, either cutting down the amount of studying you are doing, or planning to do it over a longer period of time. If it’s not enough, you can add to your goals or shorten your timeframe. 

If you’re not finding it as interesting as you hoped, perhaps it’s time to think again about whether it’s the right career for you. One or two aspects might well be a bit dull, as everything is in life, but if you’re finding the entire experience eye-wateringly boring  see what else might be out there!

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