Ever felt stuck or unhappy with your career? Let’s face it – there are times where we all feel lost or unsure. If there’s no advancement, you’re unchallenged, or you’re ready for change, it’s frustrating. On top of that, sometimes you don’t know where to turn, leaving you more stressed about the future.
Would you believe that I have not set foot in a classroom since I was 11 years old? (gasp!) Yes, I have chosen an alternative path to my education. But I’ll tell you it has not been the slightest disadvantage. In fact, my lack of formal education has helped me discover what employers truly are looking for. With no schooling, I was forced to take another approach and found out what employers truly want.
In this journey, I learned five steps can make a huge difference in reaching your goals. Anyone that adopts these practices will start to make waves in their career too. And that’s what I want to share with you. So here are the 5 things I learned that will speed up your career journey –
#1 – Don’t get discouraged
When you’re job hunting and not having any luck, it’s very disheartening. And unfortunately, human nature causes us to start doubting ourselves. There’s that little demon in the back of our minds telling us that our dream isn’t possible. That mentality can be pervasive and crippling if you allow it to creep in.
So here’s a reminder of what the truth is:
It has nothing to do with you
I once worked with a job hunter that was unemployed for THREE MONTHS. They had applied to hundreds of jobs and didn’t get a single interview. This person is talented in their field, so I knew that something else was wrong. She spent only 30 minutes with me where I gave her some tips about her CV. That same night, she made the changes and applied to more jobs. In less than 24 hours, she got invitations from TWO different companies to interview! And more invitations came in within the week. Better yet, she received many offers and got to pick which one to accept!
I promise, the problem is not with your skills, your abilities, or who you are as a person. It’s something else that is “off” and only needs correcting. More often than not, it’s in how you’re presenting yourself as a job candidate in you CV. The good news is that this is something you can fix! So don’t allow yourself to lose faith. There is always a path to success.
#2 – Explore Your Interests
I’ve never understood people that treat the rest of their lives like an escape from work. If the hours you spend outside of your job are wasted in unproductive activities, stop! Something as simple as changing your routine can invite new benefits for your career.
First, identify why you want an escape from work. Then figure out what it is that you wish you were doing instead. Even spending an hour per day in this new interest will start to open up new opportunities for you. If you become passionate about it, then consider how it can be a career.
As one without any schooling to show for, this is the exact thing that introduced me to my career of 12 years. Keep in mind that it wasn’t an immediate jump from my old work into this new interest. It was the act of exploring new things that took me to where I am.
But here’s the thing. Had I not gotten involved in that initial interest, I never would be enjoying the same career for the last 12 years. For all you know, you could be in a more fulfilling, more lucrative career in a short amount of time. But if you don’t take that first venture into something new, you won’t ever know that.
#3 – Build Experience On Your Own
Piggybacking off the previous point here. Now think about how you’re settling on an interest you’re passionate about and want to pursue. Consider if there’s ANY opportunities to get into that field without schooling.
Unless you’re wanting to get into a regulated field, I’d bet there’s a path without more school. I’ve seen it time after time – success stories born from ambition, not more formal education. Isn’t that exciting to think about?
The purpose of doing this is to garner more experience so that you can put it on your CV/resume. If you can show an employer that you have the skills, then education becomes less important. What they want to see is measurable results and how you add value. Once I figured this out, it was how I built my career without any education at all, even to the point I was making $100,000 USD.
So now the challenge is finding the opportunities to build that experience! You can offer to do work for other businesses for free, coordinate local meetups on your topic, find opportunties to speak, and more! There are so many possibilities if you are willing to get creative. And with every milestone you reach or benchmark you hit, make sure that ends up on your CV!
#4 – Set goals and DO NOT deviate from them
As you start building up your skillset and adding to your resume, it’s important to also map out a plan. One where you identify what you’d consider to be your ideal position. Once you have that pinned down, do an exercise where you mentally work backwards from that vision. You do this by asking yourself “what milestone is necessary for me to get to that final step?” Then, write that answer down. Next, think it through again, but about the step that would precede that one. Rinse and repeat.
This is my approach to reverse-engineering your career. By doing this, you will identify the stepping stones it will take to get to your desired career. This will also help you uncover what goals you need to reach it.
Lastly, you must commit that you WILL NOT accept any work that does not contribute to those goals. This level of discipline is intended to keep you on track for your goals and not settling for any position. It forces you to remain dedicated in your work and in your skills so that you arrive at your ideal, no matter what that is.
#5 – The ABLE Principle
Once you have some experience, your goals are in place, and you’re sticking to your dreams, now it’s time to expand.
What does that mean exactly?
This is what I call the ABLE principle. Which stands for “Always Be Looking Elsewhere.”
Depending on your goals, this might look a little different at various stages of your career. But in the job market of the last decade or so, people have had the tendency to change jobs more often.
And that’s okay.
If the goal is to continue building your experience and improve your resume, then don’t fret.
The stigma of job hopping isn’t what it used to be.
The job market has become much more diverse and fast moving. If you can show your job changes were always a move up, employers recognize that. In fact, it makes you look valuable.
And the ABLE principle leverages that very fact. Keeping an eye out for the next opportunity shows you’re innovative. It sends the message that you’re someone that puts the effort in and get results. Most importantly, it indicates you are deserving of the recognition your results command.
Which is exactly what I mean when I say you can move up in your career quickly. Good employers are willing to take the measures to keep a valuable employee.
Take advantage of that!
Braxton Wood is the owner of Marketing Career Jumpstart, which is a career guidance company that helps job hunters get more interviews, accelerate their career path, and make more money.
Braxton offers a free quiz to help job hunters discover the mistakes they are making in their resume writing. You can take the quiz here.