A very long time ago, it was believed that any kind of formal education prepared you for a prosperous and decades-long career where you will only have to improve upon what you already know to keep pushing forward.
For better or for worse, the present-day business landscape is much more unpredictable and requires a higher level of workplace mobility. In such a climate where anything you know may become obsolete the very next date, the candidates are no longer required to possess any specific skill but rather to be open to constantly expend their skillset in the most efficient manner possible.
Let us take a look then at a couple of strategies that will help you to improve your business knowledge and develop a lifelong learning mentality that will keep fueling your career in years to come.
Take an honest assessment of your skills and preferences
In order to make any progress in your career, you need to know where you are starting and what tools you have at your disposal. That is why it is more than recommended to perform a thorough assessment of your personal traits, interests, goals, ambitions, success definitions, learning preferences, and all other inherent qualities that may affect your career or learning experience. When you deplete the traditional personality tests and similar resources ask your friends, family members, and employer for their opinion. Keep in mind that negative feedback can be damaging only if you don’t use it as a tool for personal growth.
Set tangible and measurable goals
Now that you know where you’re starting let’s see where you should be heading. Even in a business environment as unpredictable as the one we have now, your career path should lead to some tangible and precise finish line. Once you get these long-term plans sorted out, break them down into more immediate (no longer than one year ahead) objectives, which you will then use to establish even more specific objectives and strategies that will move you closer to the next milestone. Keep in mind that all efforts you are going to take need to be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-limited).
Expand your professional outlook
In other words, your future self-improvement efforts should be steered in the direction that will maximize the number of available career options. Take for instance the MBA degrees that are becoming increasingly popular in Commonwealth countries like Australia. These are very lucrative and developing economies so enrolling for the best MBA in Australia will open you the way to high-paid consulting and management gigs across the entire English-speaking world and the South Pacific region. This may sound like taking very broad strokes, but the labor market is very competitive and you need all odds working to your favor.
Develop a professional network
Having a developed network of business and private acquaintances is critical for a number of reasons. First, valuable contacts may give you greater leverage in the labor market and potentially give access to influential corporate figures. Second, hanging out with people having a good pulse on the industry will do a great job of keeping you up-to-date, steering your professional efforts, helping you learn about smaller markets, and motivating you to keep up the pace with the rest of the corporate world. You can start building these connections as early as the corporate education programs we have described above.
Find a mentor or a role model
The first-hand experience is invaluable. Since you don’t possess such a level of familiarity with the corporate world and learning from your own mistakes is not really sustainable, you should seriously consider finding a mentor that will pass you the knowledge and gradually introduce you to the secrets of the trade. Sure, this approach is not the fastest and it considerably limits your business options but if you want to focus on a single trade, this is the way to go. If you don’t have an access to an experienced mentor, finding some sort of role model you will research, try to emulate, and take as a professional standard will do you just fine.
Practice what you learn
Last but not least, if you want to do better in the business world the skills you learn must not remain the dead letter on your resume. Instead, you should strive for excellence and don’t move to another project until you reach a satisfying level of proficiency. That requires some serious groundwork and practicing what you have learned. Still, these efforts can prove to be nothing but beneficial since you are going to expand your professional network, work out a great number of soft skills, and, who knows, maybe even uncover the career paths you haven’t previously considered. So, stop collecting the certificates and start acting.
We hope that these couple of tips will help you come up with a strategy that will finally put your career on the right track and prepare you for all the challenges awaiting you further down the road. These days we are living in a world where mobility and agility are some of the best traits you can ever hope to possess. But even these seemingly inherent qualities need to be developed, practiced, and nurtured. That’s not an easy job but now you at least know where to start.
Written by Brigitte Evans