You should consider more than just your salary when making career decisions. It’s always nice to earn money, and sometimes money will be the priority in your life, but make a conscious choice. If you’re not experiencing some kind of passion in your job, you’ll be pretty good at best but not excellent.
When planning your career path, it’s helpful to think of yourself as a brand. You need to understand the passion you’ll bring to the table as well as how you are perceived by others.
Here are some tips:
- Do a self-assessment. Assess your soft skills and your hard skills. Your knowledge and technical skills are your hard skills. Your soft skills are everything else, such as your ability to communicate, manage others, be politically savvy and manage your emotions. The skills assessment will also reveal if you lack sufficient training for your desired career path.
- Get feedback. It’s important to get feedback to see yourself the way others see you. People love to give you their opinions, so go to your boss and/or colleague and ask, “I really want to improve, please tell me what what my strengths and weaknesses are.”
- Establish goals. Think about what you want to be able to say about your position after you leave it. Everything you do in your career helps you to develop your career goals. Translate that into how it will benefit the company.
- Develop an executive presence. Polishing your brand or image involves working on how you present yourself. Make sure you have an “executive presence.” This is the ability to communicate and act with both warmth and strength. In doing so, you will convey confidence and expertise in your field.
- Build your network. Maintaining an online presence is important to get your brand noticed. Make sure your resume or profile is current on networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. Your goal in this is to have your resume chosen over your competition. Make sure to be professional everywhere you are online to ensure you are represented the way you want to be.
- Develop a career timeline. Develop a timeline outlining your desired career moves. Add in your salary requirements and determine what you are willing to do to achieve your goal. For example: would you move or accept more hours? Decide what success looks like to you and you will be able to decide if you should seek a new opportunity.
- Talk to your employer. The most successful negotiators are able to demonstrate the benefits they will provide in exchange for the increased responsibilities and/or salary they are requesting. Think about your timing and what’s going on in the company before you ask. An ideal time to discuss the possibility of advancement is during a performance review. It’s the perfect time to discuss career goals and ask your employer what you can do to advance your career. Asking too often can actually be detrimental, but you must ask.
The definition of a successful career is different for everyone. If you’re willing to do the work, results will follow. Ask yourself, “What do I really want to have in my life?” You must be honest with yourself in order to decide what you really want.