5 steps to take charge of your career

Laveta Brigham

December 4, 2020 8 min read This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process. By: Sarah Danzl, Global Communications Director at Degreed Accept imperfect opportunities. Keep learning and developing skills. Create “your personal brand.” Create a network of people. Be […]


8 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.


By: Sarah Danzl, Global Communications Director at Degreed

  • Accept imperfect opportunities.
  • Keep learning and developing skills.
  • Create “your personal brand.”
  • Create a network of people.
  • Be realistic, patient, and persistent.

Building a career is a difficult task. The ups and downs are inevitable, as they are influenced by the economy, employers, and the decisions we make along the way. The economy is not something we can control and, although it can be influenced, this is not always possible. What is within your power of control are your own decisions.

Through deliberate and thoughtful choices, you can (and should) take charge of your own career in the most meaningful and impactful ways. When you do, you are more likely to be in control of your own future. For that, you must focus on five aspects:

Think long-term: accept imperfect opportunities

Like most, I have had several employers and have worked in different positions. I love my current job, but finding and landing this dream job didn’t just happen. For one thing, I had to envision myself in a role like this long before I thought it was achievable.

Image: Depositphotos.com

At the beginning of my career, I had the dilemma about what I felt, at that moment, it was a big change in my career. I was working in marketing for a nonprofit organization that I really believed in and had a manager who had taken a risk for me. The opportunity was in a new field, at a lower level of the scale, in the corporate sector.

But then something happened that put my dilemma in context that instantly clarified everything for me. My dad asked me how the job I was considering would contribute to my ability to land my next work and, finally, “the job of my dreams”. Rightly, I began to view good but imperfect opportunities as valuable stepping stones.

Keep learning and developing skills – embrace advancement

Developing your knowledge is one of the biggest keys to success. It is not only smart, but also necessary. For better or for worse, the skills we learn in school or early in our career often lose their importance within a few years.

The good news is, it’s easier than ever to keep up with the skills you need to be successful, no matter what your career goals are. More and more employers are offering employees online learning opportunities. Outside of work, the same types of learning content abound on the internet, and many are free. Identify the skills you have and the ones you need and then dive into them!

And keep this in mind: it’s one thing to explore new skills, but it’s another to really learn them, incorporate them into your everyday activities. To become truly competent, you must apply new skills in the real world. You can do this by taking on new projects, participating as a volunteer in your community and advising or teaching other people interested in obtaining the same skills. And if your employer offers you these or other development opportunities, don’t hesitate to come forward and take advantage of them.

Every step you take to learn and develop prepares you for your next big career move. Always keep an open mind and be willing to take risks.

Control your social behavior: create “your personal brand”

The way you choose to show yourself professionally is very personal. It can also depend heavily on your line of work. Regardless of the image you present, realize that you are creating a personal brand that indicates your value to potential employers.

I think it’s always best to keep control of your image, and you can do it in two key ways. First, refine your presence on social media. It can be tempting to think of certain types of social media, like Facebook , as a place to hang out with your friends and family. So is thinking that no one will ever realize that, on Twitter, that secret, random name is actually your username.

The reality is this: chances are a potential employer will try to see what you posted . Choose images and words that are consistent with your professional goals. And if you insist on publishing content that could be harmful, verify that your settings are secure and that your accounts have the maximum possible privacy. Remember that there is no guarantee that this will save you.

LinkedIn is another story. Its main purpose is to act as a professional network, so there really is no excuse to go the extra mile and post content outside of what is acceptable within your chosen industry. LinkedIn is also possibly the best place to establish your professional brand online and you can do it in a number of ways. To get started, post a profile picture and keep your profile updated. Users who have a profile photo on LinkedIn can get up to 21 times more views than those who don’t. And profile pages with a compelling title and summary can boost your personal brand and help you make a great first impression.

Your brand also exists offline in the way you conduct yourself with your peers and leaders. He stands out for being reliable, friendly and with a good attitude to work. Deliver what you promise. Go ahead and make key plays.

Create a network of people: it’s about getting in touch

The word “networking” can have a negative connotation if it conjures up images of sycophantic opportunists lurking at professional events, trying to get in touch with all the “right” people. Of course, it is important to meet people who can help you get ahead. But networking involves much more than greeting half the world at social events.

Image: Gabriel Benois via Unsplash

Done right, networking is as much about helping others as it is about helping yourself. With more than 700 million members from around the world working in almost every industry imaginable, LinkedIn is a great place to start connecting with others. It’s worth joining groups on topics that interest you, finding tutors, or just asking experts questions, and offering help to others.

You can, and should, also network in your current workplace. By doing so, you will establish key contacts with people who can help you take the next steps in your career.

Be realistic, patient and persistent

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you most likely won’t be vice president in your second job after college. Most likely, you will not get a millionaire salary within two years of joining a company. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dream big.

And you need to take smart and firm steps towards each goal. Don’t limit yourself, especially when the going gets tough. You are going to receive negative comments. Someone is not going to like what you wrote or how you presented something. But turn it into an opportunity. Allow it to affect you for a moment, but then use it as an incentive to get better over and over again. Do your best not to take setbacks personally. If you view rejection constructively, it can actually boost your self-esteem.

Lastly, don’t feel “too important” for certain tasks. Sometimes you have to work in the trenches first to earn the medals. And I would say that it does us good both physically and mentally. Don’t underestimate yourself. You won’t know what’s possible until you try. And if you fail, don’t feel like it will always be this way in the future. Keep being positive and learning, never give up.

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