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  • To most of us, career growth and success are life goals that are right in line with marriage, a mortgage, kids, and two bright and shiny new cars in the driveway. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. In many cases, well-educated people are stuck in jobs that they’re overqualified for and they’re blocked for promotions by senior team members.

    When it comes to career success, if you’re not growing, you’re dying.

    Here are five things that you can do to improve your career growth prospects and be happier and successful at work:

    1. Learn New Skills

    If you’re passed over again and again for promotions, it might be time to start learning new skills in order to make yourself more valuable to the company. Taking online courses and getting professional certifications can go a long way to help you advance with your current company or look more attractive to another company should you decide to leave.

    It’s important to remember that it’s not your employer’s responsibility to advance your career. You must develop your own plan for career growth and hold yourself accountable.

    2. Stop Schmoozing Co-Workers

    Coworkers have fun in the office and take a selfie

    It’s great to have friends at work but your job isn’t a country club aimed at enhancing your social status. Being friendly and courteous is important in the office, but being friends with everyone is not. This is not to say that you shouldn’t attend social events or engage in some water cooler talk from time to time, but remember that your peers may one day be your subordinates.

    This often leads to workplace hostility. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember that you have friends outside of work and that remaining friendly, but not too friendly, is the best course of action.

    3. Set Personal Goals

    Confident young professional on laptop brainstorms some professional goals

    When it comes time for a promotion or a raise, you’re ultimately going to be judged on what you do to provide additional value to the company.

    Corporate goals are great, but setting personal goals to push the envelope a bit further is great for overall career growth and gives you great talking points when you’re met with a review for a raise or promotion.

    4. Build A Network

    Young professionals at a networking event

    Networking is no longer an option; it’s the norm. Attending these events puts you in contact with people who not only could provide opportunities later but could also help you at your current job. Need a new HR person? You probably know someone. The IT department is looking for a new lead—great, you can call the guy you met at happy hour.

    These contacts allow you to not only be on the lookout for future opportunities but to also be the person in your current position who has the contacts they need to get things done.

    5. Be The Solution

    Happy man on laptop thinks about solving problems at work

    If there’s one thing that bosses hate, it’s the person who brings problems to them to solve. Problems happen, and sometimes you don’t have any other choice but to bring it to your boss, but you’ll be looked at in a far more favorable light if you bring solutions when you present the problems.

    “This is a potential problem, but I’ve done some research and it appears that this would fix it”—sounds a lot better to your management team than just being the guy who is constantly complaining.

    If these tips don’t help and you can’t seem to get ahead no matter what you try, it might be time to look for a new job. There’s no shame in trying something and then moving on to something else when it doesn’t work.

    No matter what position you’re in, there are always ways to keep moving up the corporate ladder. Don’t give up. Remember to seize every opportunity and work on your career a little bit every day. You’ll be out of a career rut in no time.

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    This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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  • After months (maybe even years) of careful thought, you have decided that the time is finally right to make a career change. This is one of the biggest decisions of your professional life and it will have a significant impact on your quality of life moving forward.

    Buckle up! This change won’t happen overnight and it’s going to be a roller coaster of a process.

    As you navigate your way through the career change process, here are five mistakes to avoid:

    Mistake #1: Believing That A Career Change Will Be Easy

    As alluded to in the opening paragraphs, the career change process is a roller coaster ride of emotions and there’s nothing easy about it! Some people go into the process, think they’ll apply for a few jobs, and just hope something will come together. Then, after the setbacks mount, they lose confidence and become frustrated.

    You need to take a step back and taper your expectations.

    The job market is as competitive as ever and, depending on how long you were at your previous job, the job search process has changed significantly. From the way you find jobs, apply for jobs, and interview for jobs, the process is not the same as it used to be.

    Mistake #2: Not Doing Enough Research

    Man looks at his phone while researching companies to work for

    You’ve decided you don’t want to continue with your current career path and have narrowed in on another career to pursue.

    Guess what? That’s not enough!

    You need to research the industry you’re going into to see how many of your professional skills will transfer over to the new career field. You also need to take a serious inventory of the skills that you’re lacking and investigate your options for upskilling to gain those valuable skills. This may be the most difficult of all the career change challenges. However, addressing it early in the job search process will only benefit you more in the long run.

    In addition to all of that, you need to have a strong understanding of the state of the industry you’re targeting. Some industries, such as journalism, are struggling and seeing significant reductions in the workforce while other professions are in danger of being automated. It’s important to make sure that the profession you’re going into is better than the one you’re leaving behind.

    It’s also important to research salaries for the profession, so there are no surprises as you go along in the process (more on that in a bit).

    Mistake #3: Attacking The Career Change Process Alone

    Woman at a networking event talking to colleagues who could help her with her career change

    If you’ve neglected your professional network or don’t have one, you may want to make that your first priority before starting your job search.

    A career change is hard enough as it is, but very few people are able to accomplish it without a little help. This is where your professional network comes in handy. Talking to former colleagues, professional acquaintances, and mentors can not only help shape your career path, but they may also be able to recommend companies that may be a good fit for you and make some initial introductions.

    If your professional network needs some work, try to reach out to colleagues to see if they’re willing to introduce you to some professionals in their networks. In addition, you may want to look into attending some local networking events to meet new people.

    Online networking tools such as LinkedIn also give job seekers an opportunity to run their own proactive job searches. If you’ve identified some companies that you’re interested in, you can use LinkedIn to connect with people at those companies. You can also contact the recruiter for those companies.

    Your networking efforts should run concurrently with your job search.

    Mistake #4: Neglecting Your Resume

    Job seeker on laptop shows a lack of interest in working on his resume

    There may have been a time a long time ago when a one-size-fits-all resume was fine but it’s not like that now. Every resume needs to be tailored to the specific job you’re targeting. The modern-day recruiter handles so many resumes that they only have time to skim them.

    You basically have six seconds to get that recruiter’s attention, so all the relevant skills that you possess for that job need to be at the top of your resume.

    There are still some people that fall into the trap of spending most of their time writing a good cover letter but using the same resume over and over again. Both documents deserve an equal amount of attention. It may take a little extra time but it beats being repeatedly passed over for job interviews.

    Mistake #5: Expecting To Make More Money

    Woman saving money during the career change process

    If you’re making a career change just to make more money, you may be in for a surprise.

    Sure, depending on your industry and professional experience, there are some career changes that lead to instant raises.

    But in many cases, any financial gain that comes from career change happens in the long term, not the short term. It’s very possible that you’ll have to take a pay cut initially until you prove yourself in your new position. This is especially true if a company takes a chance and hires you with little experience. The company wants to make sure you can do the job before it makes a significant investment.

    That’s why it’s important to do salary research early in the process and plan accordingly.

    The job search process isn’t easy, but if you take the proper steps, it doesn’t have to be miserable. Hopefully by avoiding these five mistakes, making a career change will be a little less daunting and intimidating. And (even though it didn’t make the list) make sure you don’t prematurely quit your current job before you’ve secured a new one (unless you have the resources) because even the smoothest career changes take a little time.

    Need more help with your career change?

    We’d love it if you signed up for Work It Daily’s Event Subscription! Get your career questions answered in our next live event!

    This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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  • Whispers about a possible recession have been in the air for a few years, but those whispers grew a lot louder recently with many economists highlighting various economic indicators pointing toward a possible recession in the immediate future.

    Recessions can impact everyone differently, but history indicates that there will be mass layoffs, fewer jobs, more competition for jobs, and less job security.

    Here’s what you need to know about a potential recession’s impact on your career:

    Common Situations People Find Themselves In During A Recession

    Man stressed about work during a recession

    As stated above, a recession impacts everyone differently. Any issue with the economy will impact consumers’ wallets in one way or another but things can become particularly painful when it impacts your livelihood.

    From a professional standpoint, the most common situations people find themselves in during a recession include:

    Feeling trapped in a job they hate – Perhaps you were looking to leave your current job and make a career change, but the recession put the brakes on that. A person trapped in a job they hate can be less productive and many times the unhappiness from their professional life bleeds into their personal life.

    Getting laid off from a job – This is the most painful consequence of a recession. It has a significant impact on a person emotionally. It also forces them to pick themselves up and enter into a competitive job market. And the awkward and uncomfortable fact is that if you are laid off, you’re better off being involved in a company’s first round of layoffs. Those let go in a second round of layoffs must enter into an even more competitive job market where their former co-workers already have a head start on them.

    Being forced to accept a job they don’t want – People have bills to pay and it’s not uncommon for some to become so frustrated with the job search process that they eventually settle for any job offer they get. This is especially painful for anyone that may have been laid off from a career they loved. Going from a career you love to one you don’t could make you a less productive worker and could also have major emotional impacts.

    Struggling to land a job at all – This is the worst-case scenario. Not only is the job market ultra competitive, but those who have lost a job are interviewing for new ones with an urgency that sometimes comes across as desperation. The more times a person gets rejected from a job, the more desperate they become and the more it impacts them during job interviews. The unfortunate truth is that those who are laid off during a recession are at a disadvantage because recruiters are more likely to hire people that are already employed.

    How To Know If A Recession May Impact Your Career

    Woman on laptop concerned a recession may impact her career

    There will be some common sense signs such as the state of your industry and the overall health of the company you work for, but beyond that, there are typically six strong indicators that your job is at risk during a recession.

    The biggest indicator starts with doing an honest self-assessment about yourself because if you don’t have a long-term career goal in place, you are vulnerable to losing your job during a recession.

    If you’re currently just getting by at your job but can’t define what you do particularly well or the value you provide the company, that’s a major red flag.

    A solid long-term career goal involves a 2-5 year plan that highlights the skills and expertise that you provide to a company and what the company’s return on investment would be if they hire you. This is all about creating and maintaining your personal brand. Your career goal should also include a plan for how you want to continue to grow professionally.

    While having this plan in place doesn’t make you recession-proof, it will put you in a better position if the worst-case scenario does occur!

    How To Prepare Your Career For A Recession

    Nothing in this world is foolproof but there are certain steps that you can take now at your current job that will make you less vulnerable during a recession.

    It all starts with being an engaged employee who strives to always exceed expectations at work.

    You should be the type of employee who has career goals in place. You know what value you provide the company and how you’re going to provide it.

    You should also be the type of employee who reaches out to management from time to time to see what you can do to increase your value to the company. An engaged employee is a valuable employee!

    It’s not a matter of if a recession is coming; it’s when. Make sure you’re prepared!

    Need more help preparing your career for a recession?

    We’d love it if you signed up for Work It Daily’s Event Subscription! Get your career questions answered in our next live event!

    This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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  • It’s easy to get excited when an employer is interested in you, especially when you haven’t had any luck getting interviews or job offers. But what if the job proposal isn’t a good fit for you? How do you decline a job offer?

    Some of you might be thinking, “Decline a job offer? Why would I do that?”

    Here are some of the reasons why you should reject potential employment:

    Reason #1: It Doesn’t Feel Right

    “You are a company,” says professional development coach and facilitator Henrieta Riesco. When you’re looking for a job or being offered a job, what the company is looking for is what Riesco calls, a mutual benefit.

    For companies, it’s important to find ways to be a better company, and as a job seeker, you have to adapt to that same mindset.

    The ultimate goal for your “company” (you) is to thrive and excel at your professional talents. If the job description doesn’t make you feel like your company can progress, then it probably isn’t a good idea to take the job.

    Reason #2: Your Values Don’t Align With The Company

    Serious man thinks about declining a job offer

    It’s one thing to say a job position doesn’t feel right. It’s another thing entirely when your professional values are not in line with the company at all.

    Riesco uses the following analogy when describing why having mutual values with a company matters.

    Let’s say you’re a person who’s an advocate for preserving the environment and the company that’s really interested in you is an oil company. That probably doesn’t align with your values if you’re an environmentalist. In fact, you probably never should’ve applied for the job in the first place, and you could have avoided wasting time on this employer if you had made an interview bucket list.

    “You have to look at the bigger picture of the company and really find out if you want to support that,” says Riesco.

    Reason #3: The Employer Wants To Exploit Your Skills

    Hiring manager talks to a job candidate during a job interview

    This might be a no-brainer for some, but it’s important to point out because when an employer wants to exploit your skills, rather than use them in a way where you’re still comfortable practicing those skills and enjoying them, then the job is no longer about how you can benefit yourself and the company with your professional abilities.

    Rather, the job becomes something only your employer controls, and exploiting your talents is how they choose to use your expertise.

    Declining The Job Offer

    Serious man on laptop holds his phone as he declines a job offer

    So, how does one reject an unwanted job offer?

    Riesco states that when it comes to rejecting a position, you have to think about that mutual benefit between yourself and the employer.

    “Tell the employer why you don’t see a match,” says Riesco. “State the possibilities, areas, and interests you have right now,” and explain why it doesn’t match with their company.

    By talking about the things you have to offer, you allow the employer to get a clearer sense of who you are as a professional and what you can provide for the company.

    It also clears up any misunderstandings about the position. By highlighting your concerns, the employer could clear things up in case you got the wrong idea.

    In addition, crafting a rejection that allows an employer to respond is also key when declining a job offer. It shows that you don’t want to burn any bridges.

    We can do this by saying the things we would want to hear from an employer when rejecting us for a position. “Treat others how you want to be treated,” says Riesco.

    Nowadays, a lot of employers who aren’t interested in certain candidates don’t even take the time to respond to them. This is not the way you want to handle your rejections. Really think about the things you want to express about the position and why you feel it isn’t a good fit.

    Be honest and authentic.

    Emphasizing that the position isn’t right for you at this time is also something you want to make sure you include in your rejection.

    “I would love to keep in touch with you and would love to know what other opportunities you would have in the future,” are some good things to say to keep that connection with the employer, according to Riesco.

    This shows that you’re not rejecting the company entirely by declining the position, and hopefully, sometime in the future, you could contact that employer and see if you’d be a better fit for the company at that point in time.

    It’s never an easy decision to decline a job offer, especially when you’ve been struggling to get hired. By following these tips, you’ll make sure you don’t accept a job offer for a position you don’t really want.

    Nothing is worse than accepting a job offer and then realizing a few weeks in that you’ve made a huge mistake!

    When the job feels right, you’ll know.

    Need more help with your job search?

    We’d love it if you signed up for Work It Daily’s Power Hour Event Subscription! Get your career questions answered in our next live event!

    This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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