Unless you’re already at the top of your company’s food chain — and maybe even then — you probably spend more than a little time thinking about what’s next. Whether it’s a promotion or an entirely new situation, you know that thinking by itself isn’t going to be enough when that door opens. You’ve got to be ready to walk through it.
Now’s the time to put your thoughts into action. This guide should help you prepare for your next career move, whatever it may be.
Pick Your Spot
What do you want to achieve? Contrary to popular belief, your job doesn’t have to be something you are passionate about; you don’t have to love going into work each and every day. However, that doesn’t mean your career can be meaningless. Rather, every job you have should help you work toward a grand career goal that will bring you satisfaction and fulfillment.
While you begin contemplating your next great job, you should consider what you want to do with your career. Perhaps you idolize CEOs who control huge enterprises, or perhaps you have always dreamed of running your own boutique. With that ultimate destination in mind, you should identify the next step on your career path.
Prepare for It
You might not be qualified to obtain your next great job right away. Thus, before you apply for a new position, you should make yourself as attractive to prospective employers as possible. That might mean working especially hard in your current position to gain experience and establish positive referrals.
It could also mean enhancing your education with an AACSB-accredited online MBA, which you can earn while maintaining your current employment. An MBA is an excellent degree if you hope to climb the business ladder quickly or function effectively as a business leader. Even if you have little experience in business, an MBA qualifies you for upper-level positions, helping you reach your career goals faster.
Know What’s Happening
Whether your career goals lie in your current industry or a completely different one, you should strive to be informed on all pertinent news. The internet is your best resource for this; regardless of your target industry, there are undoubtedly dozens of blogs dedicated to bringing you the latest information, which you can use to make more informed career decisions. You can make staying informed even easier by subscribing to email newsletters from your favorite blogs or following their accounts on social media.
Make Contacts and Keep Them
A recent survey indicated that more than 80 percent of open positions are never even listed on job boards. Instead, they are immediately filled through networking.
Indeed, knowing the right people is key for finding your next great job, but networking is more than throwing your business card at anyone you meet. You should be striving to rub elbows with people who are well-positioned to get you the jobs you want, meaning they must be inside (or closely tied to) your target industry. To do this, you should keep an eye out for industry networking events, including conferences, and be ready to make a good impression on your potential contacts.
Even after you exchange information, your networking efforts aren’t complete. You need to keep your name at the front of your contacts’ minds, so they immediately consider you when they hear of an available position. Long before you need to call on your contacts for assistance, you should have an established relationship. Initially, you might want to take your contacts out to lunch — or at least shoot them an email — once every couple months. Later, you can reduce the interactions down to a couple every year, but you shouldn’t neglect to maintain the relationship. You never know when you might need something.
“No” is the easiest word in the English language. Not only is it short and simple, but it allows you to maintain the status quo, continue doing what’s easy, and avoid the unknown. Unfortunately, “no” won’t get you anywhere in your career.
Instead, you need to learn to say, “yes” whenever a new opportunity appears. Even small opportunities, like taking on a bit more responsibility at your current job, can develop into career-changing breaks. It might not be immediately obvious how an opportunity can lead to your next great job, and that’s all the more reason to take whatever chance life throws your way.