There’s so much written about how to get a job that it can seem like that’s the only difficult stage in career planning. But once you get a job, it’s a good idea to start thinking about your career trajectory, focusing on how you will flourish and grow as a professional.
Having this focus will help you show your employer that you’re serious about your career. More importantly, you can enlist the help of your manager or others in the company as you expand your knowledge and skill base. There are a few things you can do to both grow professionally and instill a sense of purpose in your career.
Take advantage of training opportunities
Whether they be lunch-and-learn in-house training, or outside training that your company is willing to pay for, always take advantage of the opportunities your employer gives you to better yourself in the workplace.
Often, companies will offer general seminars in time management or wellness, or reimburse employees for training or classes that specifically apply to their jobs.
When you complete training, make copies of any certificates or other verification of completion, and give them to appropriate people in your company, such as your supervisor or human resources contact to keep in your file.
As well, keep a list of all the training opportunities you’ve taken advantage of over the year, so in a review, you can present this to your manager to show him or her how engaged you are in ongoing professionalism.
Be a team player
Let’s say a co-worker is behind on a project, and you’re finished with your tasks for the day. If you can, pitch in and help, even if that means staying a bit later to get the work done.
Remember, your employer focuses on results. When you show that you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and help attain those results, you become even more valued. It also shows a maturity towards your work and loyalty towards your coworkers and the company.
Along the same lines, if your manager is looking for volunteers to help with a project, accept the challenge and get involved.
Stay out of workplace gossip.
While it’s okay to ask coworkers about the outcome of the company’s softball team’s last game, or how their children are doing in their various activities, like sports or scouts, it’s a good idea to keep the chit-chat congenial and positive. The so-called water cooler might collect lots of juicy tidbits, but engaging in workplace gossip makes one look like a busy-body, not a serious professional.
A good rule of thumb is to never say anything to someone else at work that you wouldn’t want said about you. As well, never badmouth the company at work. We all have tough days where we need to vent, but find a trusted person to talk to outside work on your off hours.
Seek advice or help in a proactive way
A corporate controller of a large health-related nonprofit related a story about a subordinate who had questions about her job, but didn’t bring those questions forward in a proactive way. The problems spiraled, and by the time she did approach her supervisor, it was a much bigger issue than it might have been if she’d just asked for help sooner.
When you bring a problem to a manager, be specific about what the issue is, and be thoughtfully engaged in discussion a solution. But don’t just limit these interactions to problems. That same corporate controller had another employee that proactively approached him about process improvements that could save the department time and effort.
This second employee made a big impression with her suggestions, many of which were implemented to great success. Whether you approach a manager with a problem or a suggestion, make sure you’re not just complaining, but helping craft a solution.
As well, you may want to schedule times throughout the year to review your progress with your manager. Don’t wait for him or her to make a meeting. When you are talking with your supervisor, have a few of your career goals—learning a new skill, achieving a raise or promotion—ready to discuss. That way, you can show an enhanced sense of purpose about your career track with the company.
There are many ways to catch the attention of your superiors at work. Make sure you’re being noticed for the right things, and your managers will be looking for ways to help you grow in your career.