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Top career strategy tips to set you on the path to success

By Sarah Owens on 19.04.16 in Your Career

Career advice is never in short supply - you could spend most of your working life reading through the tips and tricks that are available online. However, this post is less about wish fulfilment and more about reality. 

If you want to be ahead of the crowd and not on a par with them, follow our top career strategy tips and watch your progression soar. 

1.  It is not enough to just 'do your job'. 

Doing your job well is not enough and certainly doesn't guarantee you the keys to the boardroom. Employers expect you to do your job to the best of your abilities. However, making the jump to the next level means you will need additional skills. It's all about delivering future value to your company - and that usually can't be taught or explained. Essentially, it's about much new business you can bring in, meeting and exceeding key business objectives or solving a problem. People who can think of what to do and then deliver it are the ones who are in line for promotion.   Motto: Make things happen. 

2.  To specialise - or not. 

Becoming a specialist can be seen as a good thing. Indeed, our industry is looking to hire more and more data scientists and analysts, so is a specialism the way to go? Well, it could be, but you also need to have a good grasp of the general stuff too. Equally though, being a real generalist isn't ideal either - you will be too hard to put into a category, making your next career move problematic. The market is quite fragmented, so if you are going to specialise, choose wisely, get your timing right and don't forget to that specialists need to be aware of context and be able to communicate in terms that more general marketers understand. 

3.  Decide what is good advice and act on it.

There is no magic recipe to make your career take off. Sorry. There is plenty of advice on how to do your job, but it's how you execute what you've been told that makes the difference. You can be advised until you are blue in the face, but if you don't act on it, the advice becomes useless. The trick is to figure out what to apply and what to ignore for your own personal situation. But beware of working and living in line with other people's expectations. You need to break out and be yourself too.

Remember, your career is not a linear, clearly defined trajectory. It is what you make it. What's more, it is essential to find something that you actually enjoy - you will naturally be good at it. 

4. Make time to understand what motivates your boss or your clients. 

By finding out what motivates your boss and your clients you will really be able to get under the skin of the organisation you work for and make a difference.  Done well, you will get a huge number of brownie points as well as being seen as 'invaluable' to your client and/or your boss. The way to do it is to listen - and ask probing questions. I don't mean subjecting people to a psychological analysis, rather ask your clients and boss what their long-term business goals are. Knowing that is gold dust. You can then think of ways to support and enhance them. Play to your strengths - how can you utilise what you are great at to address the challenges your employer and clients face? 

5. Try and visit future employers. 

This sounds random but when you're planning your next career move, checking out a company on the internet is not going to give you a real insight into what your day-to-day working life will be like. Identify a few organisations and through clever networking, try and get a coffee in the diary with someone who works there. You want to see a place before you apply for a job there. 

6. Invest in your own professional development. 

Building your skillset need not cost a fortune. Do as much reading and research into your area of expertise as you can - and also read around the perimeters. There are several online courses that are free and you could also find someone in your current company to do a skill-swap with. However, more and more companies are seeing the benefits of continuous professional development, so sign up for any courses that you are offered and you think are relevant. 

7. Network - internally and externally. 

Network is one of the main keys to your career progression. And it's not just about building strong external relationships - don't forget the people you currently work with. Forge close links with key people in your company, show them how good you are because, one day, they will move on and it might be their door you will be knocking on for your next career move. Equally, expanding your professional network is invaluable. You can do this via LinkedIn and by attending live events that are relevant to you. If you find some interesting people to connect with, ask them out for coffee. The worst that can happen is that they decline, but you never know, one might say yes.

Another thing to do is find yourself a mentor - either within your current company, or externally. You are never too old to have one and they can be a great sounding board as well as providing you with a guiding hand as and when you need it. 

8. Build your profile and get yourself seen. 

This is huge and follows on from the point above. Make sure your online profiles are up-to-date and faultless. Get people to recommend you when you have worked together and connect with people in your industry at all different levels. As you progress up the career ladder, look for speaking opportunities and comment on industry-related articles and blogs. The same can be said for building up your profile within your company - volunteer, take part and self-promote - it's no good achieving great things that no one knows about - so tell the world…. in a nice way, show-offs are generally squashed. 

So there you have it - sage advice to help you with your career strategy. It's up to you what you do with it, but we are always ready to have a chat at Direct Recruitment and will happily assist you in your next career move.