The road to career success is neither static nor accidental. Successful professionals are those who are able to sustain and build on their success by having a vision, planning astutely, taking initiative regularly and working relentlessly but smartly to realise their success.
For achieving long-term career progression, growth and accomplishment, and keeping your competitive edge, you need to remain attuned to demands, trends and developments in the marketplace, and then fine-tune your skill sets accordingly. Fortunately, there are ways to ensure that you are constantly growing, even during volatile times:
1. Know your industry
Remember, it’s not just about competency; it’s about optimal performance, and purely competent players today are in danger of being outshone and even rendered redundant by professionals who have maximised efficiency and optimised performance, and somehow carved a niche by raising or redefining the bar. If you are too busy poring over data sheets day in and day out in the exact same manner you have done for years, you may miss out on the fact that other professionals have largely outsourced a key segment of their work, for example, or imported new systems that are far more efficient, and are making time to learn new and more effective methods of doing things. Keep your eyes and ears open to the latest trends and developments, both in your industry and out, so you are in the best position to understand if your own modus operandi is optimal and sustainable.
2. Leverage your connections
We have all repeatedly heard that in today’s career world who we know and the quality of our relationships are as important as what we know. Try to maintain an active presence in relevant circles. You can network with like-minded professionals physically, but also online on key professional networking platforms. You will make good friendships, remain top-of-mind in the right groups and also pick up valuable business pointers and insights. Networking is a skill like any other, and if you are the shy, retiring type you need only do a bit of online browsing to pick up some essential tips on effective networking and find a networking style and strategy that suits you best.
3. Learn continuously
Embrace learning in all its dimensions and embrace it as a lifestyle. Learn by seeing, by doing, by reading, by taking physical and online courses on leading professional platforms, by asking questions and talking to people, and by experimenting and innovating. Aim to stay ahead of the literature in your industry and pick up books that motivate and inspire you and benefit you in your overall career and general well-being. At the same time, you should constantly be on the lookout for opportunities to re-educate yourself, sharpen your skill sets and broaden your knowledge base. Aim to stay on top of industry trends by exploring industry journals, publications, relevant conferences, and seminars. Share your learnings with others at the workplace and in your peer circles to entrench your reputation as an expert in your field and become acknowledged as a valuable resource for other professionals in the company and out.
4. Be a creator
Don’t be afraid of implementing what you learn and experimenting with new ideas. At a minimum you should improve your performance and productivity levels. But why not try to innovate? Innovation was identified by more than a third of respondents in a Bayt.com poll on career success as the ultimate vision of success. Innovation requires firstly the willpower, courage and flexibility to try new things; secondly, the knowledge, research and analysis to adapt the experimentation to the needs of the marketplace, plus the company’s own objectives; and finally, the professionalism, energy and communication skills to get internal and external buy-in for the change.
5. Perfect your personal brand
If you don’t have a CV or public profile parked on your region’s leading job sites you may be missing out on key opportunities. Remember, the objective of a public professional profile is to get you noticed by the region’s employers, and also by clients and peers, so make sure it is truly professional and always updated to reflect your latest skills, experience and qualifications. If you are not visible in relevant circles, or if your online professional profile is not accurate and attractive, you may well risk not being in the running for top jobs in your industry and other lucrative career opportunities.
Lama Ataya heads the marketing department at the Middle East job site Bayt.com.