How To Boost Career Prospects
May 22, 2019
Searching for a job can often feel like an uphill battle. Searching for a job that you’re passionate about can feel like you’re narrowing your options. If you’re one of the many individuals who are seeking a career that you’re passionate about and offers you advancement, then you need to boost your career prospects and open your horizon to potential job opportunities that are just around the corner.
One of the biggest chunks of time we spend in our lives is at work. This means we should be excited about going to work each day and feel like we’re truly having an impact on those around us and those we interact with. Sometimes it can feel like we’re stuck in a dead-end job and we’re not getting the career advancement we’d like. Boosting your career and your career prospects might involve a little bit of leg work or a change of perspective, but it’s essential if you’d like to ensure that you’re doing all you can to find happiness and success in your career.
We’re going to break down how you can improve and boost your career prospects with a few simple steps.
Evaluate What You Want In A Career
One of the biggest hurdles to boosting your career prospects is to first identify what you truly want in your career. What are you looking for? What do you hope to achieve? These, along with others, are critical questions that you must ask yourself to identify what you want in your career and what might bring you happiness.
Whether you enjoy your current career or are hoping to pursue something else, you need to have a focus and direction as to where you want to go. This can only come from taking a moment to sit down and evaluate your career and to ask critical questions about your personality, goals, and evaluate whether or not they are in line.
• Evaluate Your Accomplishments
One of the best ways to evaluate what you want in your career is to think about the achievements you’ve already made throughout your career. Are you pleased with those achievements? Did you hope that you’d have accomplished more throughout your career? Has there been something preventing you from accomplishing more throughout your career? Sometimes you’ve done all you can to perform exceptionally, and there are things outside of your control which are preventing you from going above and beyond to achieve greatness in your current role.
Another question that you can ask yourself, is whether or not there is something you can do to achieve more throughout your career? Perhaps you’ve been limiting your career accomplishments and career prospects because you’ve taken the easy road. That’s okay, sometimes it just takes some personal insight to evaluate whether or not there is something we can do to improve our career prospects and evaluate why we’re currently unhappy.
• Evaluate Why You Want Better Career Prospects
The next thing you need to consider is to evaluate why you think you should potentially change your career or why you want to boost your career prospects in the first place. Sometimes boosting your career prospects just means that you want to do all you can to receive a promotion, but you’d like to work in the same industry. In other cases, it means that you’re looking to potentially switch careers and you want to seem more attractive to future hiring managers and employers based on your skills and previous experience.
• Evaluate Your Industry
Another thing you have to evaluate to understand your career prospects and figure out how you can boost them is to take a critical look at the industry you work in. Sometimes we might absolutely love our career, and we’re passionate about the industry we work in — but the industry prospects just aren’t as green as some of the other pastures that we might be able to explore.
With any industry, there are going to be ebbs and flows, ups and downs. Is your industry currently experiencing a down-trend? Is it cyclical in nature, or does it appear like the down-trend is something that will continue for quite some time? It might be that you’re facing difficult career prospects and an uphill battle because the industry you work in is making it extra difficult to advance your career. Do these downward-trends happen frequently, and limit your ability to advance your career quite frequently?
Sometimes we need to change our career industry because we need something more stable that doesn’t have such deep up and downswings. Take a critical look and evaluate your industry to determine whether or not you need to potentially change your career or seek a new position because the industry is in a downward-trend that doesn’t appear to be turning around anytime soon.
The next question you should ask yourself is if there is something that might change in your industry that will ultimately affect your career. One of the biggest things rapidly changing the modern workforce and making the modern worker question their career is the implementation of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and refined production and technology methods. These things are rapidly changing the face of the workforce, and employees need to be able to quickly adapt to the changing workforce dynamics.
Understanding how the industry you work in might change will play a key role in making sure that you pursue career opportunities and boost your career prospects in a field that will ensure that you’re going to find success in your career.
• Evaluate What Excites You
The next thing you have to answer when you’re taking an introspective look and evaluating your career is what initially excited you about your career? What initially inspired you to pursue your career? By figuring out this question, you can identify whether or not you’re truly passionate about your career or if there’s something you’ve lost that you wish to pursue in a new opportunity.
Was there something you did or something out of your control that could have led to you no longer pursuing what initially excited you about your career? Was there something that excited you initially, but it turns out that you’re not as excited as you once were and are looking to pursue something else?
These are critical questions that you have to ask yourself because they help to identify whether or not your key issue in your career and your potential career prospects is due to you no longer enjoying your line of work or feeling like you’re interested in what you do.
Another benefit to evaluating what excites you is that it offers you another opportunity to identify what your dream job might be. In nearly every scenario, our dream jobs are often the ones that excite us the most.
Steps To Boost Career Prospects
We’ve outlined some of the best steps you can take to boost your career prospects. You don’t need to utilize every single one of these, and some of them will only apply in certain scenarios. Take a look at the steps and utilize the ones that you feel will make a direct impact on you and your career prospects.
1. Ask For An Evaluation
One of the first things that you can do to boost your career prospects is to ask for an evaluation in your current job. Asking for an evaluation can seem like a scary thing, but it’s also part of the process in identifying what you can do to improve your career and boost career prospects. An evaluation typically happens for each employee on a quarterly, semi-annual, or annual basis. They offer a great opportunity for each employee to learn more about what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are, areas they can improve upon, and more.
The thing that most employees fear is that they’re going to be critiqued and that they won’t receive a positive review or evaluation. The problem with this fear is that it is often irrational. Your employers and managers want to see you succeed, which means they’re going to provide you with some feedback that you can take and implement into your daily routine, or take advice on what you can do to boost your career prospects in other opportunities.
In addition, asking for an evaluation is a great way for you to get some insight from an employer’s or manager’s perspective. Asking for an evaluation is often the first step to explaining what you hope to accomplish in your career and coming up with a gameplan with your supervisors in the event that you do enjoy your job and want some additional clarity on what you can do to improve your career.
In the event that you’re not employed currently or you’re self-employed, one great way for you to seek feedback is to reach out to former managers or employers. You might even be able to receive some critical feedback from your former co-workers. All it takes is a little message or phone call to ask for a bit of feedback from them and learn how you can boost your career prospects. One great way to ensure they’re open to the idea is to mention how willing you would be to provide that same feedback and constructive criticism if they requested it in the future.
2. Take Some Courses
One of the most undervalued ways to boost career prospects is to take some courses. It has never been easier to obtain an education and learn some new skills. You don’t have to go to college or a university to enroll in a class unless you want to, because there are so many ways to learn new skills and take a course at your own pace now.
For instance, one of the best ways to enhance your skills and boost your career prospects is to enroll in online learning opportunities like a MOOC (massive open online course). Some of the best institutions offer massive open online courses that you can use to enhance your skill set.
In many cases, some of the best institutions offer free programs and free courses that you can use to enhance your knowledge. When you take a course, you are also demonstrating to current employers, managers, along with future employers and managers that you’re passionate about enhancing your knowledge.
When you increase your knowledge, you’re also increasing your marketability. Increasing your marketability means that you’re opening yourself up to a host of new potential positions that you could potentially pursue.
In addition to massive open online courses, there are also other online courses that you can take which are highly curtailed on platforms like Lynda, Coursera, Udemy, and Skillshare. Each one of these has a host of different course topics you can pursue that are really cheap or are based around a subscription service. Some of them also include a certification upon completion to showcase that you’ve taken the time to learn those skills.
Adding some skills to your repertoire doesn’t mean that they all have to be professional skills, you can add some fun skills that you’re passionate about or interested in, and still demonstrate that you can provide additional value to a future employer and boost career prospects.
3. Know Your Value
The next thing that you can do to boost career prospects is to know your value and the worth that you bring to potential employers throughout your career. Every day you work, you’re gaining new skills and experience that you can bring to help someone else out and push a business further ahead. This means that you’re constantly gaining leverage in your self-worth and value that you can market to potential employers and climb the career ladder.
It’s always a good idea to make sure that you’re staying up to date on what the going rate is for your position and the skills you have. You might be earning a decent salary or wage where you currently work, but that doesn’t factor in all of the skills you’ve added on your own time or the ones you’ve developed. You might even be compensated more or have additional benefits given to you elsewhere based on those skills alone. This means that you could potentially be losing out on thousands of dollars in earnings or benefits because you’re not leveraging them properly in your current role and career.
Take the time to make sure that you’re using all of the resources at your disposal to make sure you’re earning what you should be based on the competing salaries and skills in your local area. Some of the best salary and compensation resources are: HospitalCareers Salary Trends for the healthcare and hospital industry, PayScale, and Salary.com for other industries.
Another way to make sure that you’re getting compensated for your value and boost your career prospects is to apply to several jobs that you would consider working in. When you do this, you receive offers and feedback on your career. If the salary and compensation offer is more than you’re currently making, present that offer to your current employer and see if they’ll provide a counteroffer.
If the offer you receive isn’t what you were looking for from organizations that you applied to, you can always seek feedback from them and get a better understanding of what they’re looking for. Once you have an understanding of what other employers and managers are looking for, then you have a little bit more direction as to what you need to add to your repertoire to increase your career prospects and improve your career.
4. Take On A Challenge
Another fantastic way to boost your career prospects is to be open to challenges. Accepting a new challenge in your career can feel like a tall task. You’ve probably got a lot on your plate already, you’re overwhelmed with your current role, or you fear the unknown as it relates to a new task. Get rid of those irrational fears and be open to accepting a new challenge. You’d be surprised at the number of challenges that you can take on each day.
Some of the challenges that will become available to you are both large and small, and if you’re hesitant about accepting any new challenge, don’t be afraid to start small. Showcasing your willingness to accept a new challenge in your job is a great way to demonstrate all the skills you’ve learned throughout your career, and demonstrate your willingness to step into the unknown to do whatever it takes for your employer and manager.
Taking on a new challenge or set of challenges is also a great way to gain additional experience and learn valuable skills which will help you perform better in other areas as well. Over time, as you complete these new challenges, you’ll gain renewed confidence in your ability to pick up more challenging tasks and receive praise from your employers and co-workers who increasingly rely on you for tougher problems. Challenges also present themselves as another opportunity for you to learn more about what excites you in your career and explore your interests.
Don’t be afraid to stick your neck out and accept a new challenge when the moment arrives.
5. Participate In Extracurriculars and Social Activities
For many people, going to work is the only time they’d like to socialize and interact with other professionals in the same industry or career. The problem with this is that it doesn’t generate many networking activities. To truly boost your career prospects and increase the chances of elevating your career, you have to step out of your comfort zone and engage in some social activities and extracurricular activities outside of work.
These activities help you expand your professional network, develop additional skills, increase your sense of community with your peers, and work on your interpersonal skills.
Sometimes it’s as simple as engaging in an association social, where you just have to mingle with others and interact with them for an hour every month or so, and other times it might even be you leading the organization’s baseball team as they compete against a community rival. Take some time to find some meaningful extracurricular activities and social circles that you’d be interested in participating, and put yourself out there for a little bit of time. You never know what kind of networking relationships you can develop and how it can potentially boost your career later on!
6. Learn More About Your Industry
As we’ve mentioned earlier, studying up on your industry is a great way to boost your career prospects — but it doesn’t stop there. Learning more about your industry is a great way for you to identify what opportunities might exist for you in your career. Evaluating what state your industry is in currently might help you with job prospects, but there are other ways to improve your job prospects and potentially catapult you into a career you’re truly passionate about.
Earlier we mentioned machine learning and artificial intelligence, are you interested in how that might potentially change your career? Can you envision yourself in a new role where you use those technologies and change the face of the industry? Entire jobs and careers are being made out of futuristic technology that is being made right now, and you might have the next great idea that can change your industry and catapult your career.
You might have a great idea or strike upon an idea when you learn a little bit more about your industry. No matter what position you might hold within your industry, it’s always a good idea to stay up to date on what’s going on in your industry. Whether it’s from a magazine, trade journals, news sites, blogs, or personal social media accounts on large social networks, staying up to date on your industry and the recent trends that are occurring will help position you in a strong spot for your career. Not to mention, it can always help your career and improve your job prospects when you can speak from authority when a new topic is brought up by one of your managers, employers, or co-workers.
7. Stop Wasting Time
Depending on your personality, you might be an expert at procrastination or stress out when you don’t have enough time to do something. You might not realize how much time you waste until you’ve actually had a schedule to stick to. The reality is that you’re probably wasting more time than you realize, and that also translates to your career prospects. When you delay sending an email, following-up with a client, or doing a rush job on some of your daily tasks, you’re only jeopardizing your performance and sending the wrong message.
You’re probably wasting more time throughout your day than you realize when instead you could be maximizing that same amount of time to improve your work and ultimately improve your job performance. How much better could that report, or that project you worked on been if you had just devoted a little bit more time each day to it? The same can be said for your career. How much time are you wasting daily, when you can be spending a little bit more time each day to build your skills, do a better job with the tasks you’ve been given, and improve your career prospects as a result.
The best way to improve your procrastination and ensure that you’re devoting enough time to each task is to make a list of all the things that you’re responsible for. Then order them in terms of importance and the estimated time it would take to complete them. As you work through them, focus on checking them off one by one so you can focus on getting them completed in a timely manner. As you practice this skill, you’ll find that the amount of time you waste gets smaller, and you become a more efficient and productive individual.
8. Consider Lateral Moves In Your Career
Throughout our lives, we’re always told that we should be constantly seeking upward momentum. That we should always seek the next best thing in our career, and that we shouldn’t settle for sideways moves because they’re seen as an inferior move. The reality of the situation is that sometimes a lateral move is the exact thing we need to take the next step in our career and boost our career prospects.
Sometimes we can get stuck in a rut in our career and for whatever reason, we’re struggling to find a way to take the next step. It might be related to performance barriers, industry trends, ample opportunity, and more. Sometimes, we need to take a step back and potentially explore taking a lateral move in our career just to freshen up the scenery and provide a change of pace.
When you take a lateral move, whether it’s in the same career or a new one, you’re increasing the likelihood that you’ll broaden your skill set and enhance your experience. A lateral move might mean you change from one title to the next
9. Talk to HR
One of the underlooked ways that you can boost your career prospects is by simply talking to or reaching out to your human resources department. Each human resource department is littered with an abundant amount of resources or knowledge you can use to boost your career. Plenty of employers and organizations are paying for a bunch of resources and materials that you can use to advance your career.
For instance, many employers now have a stipend or some form of a compensation package that you can take advantage of to go back to school or enroll in a new degree program. There might even be exclusive courses or training sessions that are only available to you and your co-workers within the organization that you can readily use.
Talking to your human resources department is a great way to learn about some of the benefits you might not be using as part of your employment, and also receive potential compensation on behalf of the employer as you look to continually improve your skill set and gain new experience which can be used in your role.
Another benefit of talking to your human resources department is to find out if there are any new career opportunities that you might be interested in pursuing. Human resource departments are always interested in finding the right fit for employees because it’s incredibly costly for them to find new talent and train them for an open position. It’s much easier for one employee to transition from one position to the next within the same organization.
The human resource team members are also useful resources for seeking critical feedback on what you can do to help you improve your career prospects. Human resource professionals spend most of their day sourcing, interacting with, and hiring quality candidates each day. Which means that they know some of the most in-demand skills, experience, certifications, credentials, and more.
Unless your specific job is small in scope or your career is limited, they’ve most likely hired dozens if not hundreds of other professionals who work in a similar role as you. Which means that they’ve had dozens of potential interactions with other professionals who have the same role as you with different backgrounds and skills. Each interaction they’ve had means that you’ve got a host of knowledge and insight you can potentially source to evaluate what you can do to boost your career prospects.
They might be able to provide you with some ideas about what you can do to improve your marketability and career prospects.
10. Consider Getting Some Certifications
Increasingly, employers are looking to hire individuals who have specific sets of skills, instead of degrees. Nearly every professional works in a different career than the degree they graduated with. This means that job seekers and professionals increasingly need to be able to learn new skills and implement them into their routine. Certifications are a great way of demonstrating your knowledge and experience with certain skills. The best thing about them, they are easy to obtain, affordable, and pay dividends when you use them throughout your career.
One of the biggest problems that employers have when evaluating potential candidates is whether or not the candidate can actually perform the role that they’re being considered for. Professionals who pursue and obtain certificates can help build trust with future employers by demonstrating an independent authority has evaluated and tested your skill set.
Another benefit to gaining some certifications for your career is that it helps you specialize in certain topics. It might seem like a good idea to be a jack of all trades because you appear to be flexible, but specializing in certain topics or industries is a fantastic way of boosting your career and increasing your earning potential significantly. The great thing about specializing is that it’s easy to specialize in individual topics based on the new e-learning and distance learning methods we’ve highlighted earlier. It’s never been easier to increase your skill set, expand your knowledge, and earn certifications that highlight your abilities.
11. Seek Advice From Your Peers and Friends
The next way you can increase your career prospects is by simply reaching out to your friends and peers for some advice. Your friends don’t necessarily have to work in the same industry or career as you to provide some valued advice. Sometimes, the best advice you can get is from those individuals who can provide you with some outside perspective or give you advice on what worked for them in a different role.
Opening yourself up to them about some of your career struggles or questions about what you can do to improve your career prospects is not only a great way to learn about new ways you can incorporate new methods into your career but also strengthen those relationships that you’ve already worked so hard to develop over time.
12. Build Your Portfolio
Another way for you to boost your career prospects is to make a portfolio showcasing all that you’ve done, the accomplishments you’ve had over time, and showcase what you might be able to bring forward in a future role. When you’re put on the spot, it can be tough remembering all the things you’ve done in previous positions or careers, and a portfolio is a great way to remember and highlight all the things you’ve done.
Take some of the worry and forgetfulness out of your career and future interviews by building a portfolio that you can show to potential employers and hiring managers that demonstrates all of your skills and previous accomplishments for them to view. Increasingly, personal websites that serve as portfolios are a great way for you to do this — and it also ensures that anybody can view it at any time, anywhere. If you don’t want to invest in a personal website, consider building up a portfolio on your LinkedIn. LinkedIn is one of the leading professional social network sites and has great tools where you can link media and portfolio projects on your profile.
You might have to get creative for your career portfolio if the industry or career you work in doesn’t have many opportunities to demonstrate your accomplishments, but it’s just another way for you to explore your creative side.
13. Take a Vacation and Recharge
Sometimes, the one thing we need to boost our career prospects is to simply recharge. One of the best ways to recharge is to take some time off work or job search and recharge by relaxing a bit. We can get so wound up in all the minute details of our daily routine at work or the stress of trying to find a job in the modern job search environment, that we can forget what it’s like to run at full capacity and feel like you have full energy.
In the modern work world, employees are constantly being asked to do more with less — including their vacation time. Too often, we’re pushing off our vacation time and telling ourselves that we’ll use it next year or that we’ll use it soon. The problem with this mindset is that some places don’t carry over vacation time because of their policies, or we never do use all of the vacation time we’ve saved up before moving on to another position.
When you’re not taking vacation time, you’re essentially giving up the free time you’ve earned while in your position. Stop overworking yourself and take some quality me-time by taking a bit of time off work to rejuvenate your spirits and boost your energy levels once again. Plus, you never know what you might learn or come up with during your vacation.
Boosting your career prospects can often feel like an uphill battle as we constantly get bogged down in our daily routine or job search, but there are several methods you can take to drastically improve your future career prospects. Whether it’s seeking critical feedback from your manager, or advancing your knowledge and skills by taking some courses on your own time — you can set yourself up for success in no time!