When it comes to your career, there are always ways to improve and climb up the chain of command. No matter which industry you’re in, opportunities for improvement are always available to those who are looking.

Whether you’re simply unhappy with your current position or want to change career paths entirely, there’s always a reason to hope. Taking control of your career isn’t limited to how outstanding your resume or CV are either.

Taking action is the first step to skyrocketing your career. It’s not all about what’s on paper. In fact, below you’ll find many ways to improve your career that don’t involve paperwork or your resume!

1. Make a Plan

One of the best ways to ensure success is by making a plan. Many people like to make five-year plans that depict all the necessary steps to get from Point A to Point B in five years. A five-year plan can be as detailed as you want it to be and include anything from simply talking to your boss to earning a graduate degree in business online.

Your plan doesn’t have to be five years long. In fact, a shorter one-year plan can seem more doable for many people. Simply making a plan is a great way to start.

Here are some ways to create a solid plan.

Brainstorm Goals

You can have more than one goal within your plan. They don’t have to be anything big, just a few small goals will do.

Plot a Timeline

Know what goals you can complete now, in a year, in two years, and so on. Something like finding a mentor can be completed now, but something like earning a new certification may take longer.

Reward Yourself

Every time you complete a goal on time or early, reward yourself. Little rewards along the way encourage you to keep moving towards your goal even when things seem difficult.

Have Meetings with Yourself

It’s possible that your original plan doesn’t work as well as you anticipated. Along the way, make sure to consider what does and doesn’t work and adjust accordingly. Revisiting and adjusting your plan can keep your goals attainable.

Some things may change during your plan too, requiring you to make unexpected changes. Don’t let these discourage you from continuing with your plan, though.

2. Become an Expert in Your Industry

Every industry has constant changes that you may or may not be aware of. By reading up on current industry standards and changes, your updated knowledge can help you propel yourself forward in your career.

When you only know outdated information, it’s easy for new professionals to quickly outshine you. The best and only way to remain an expert in your field is to regularly read up on all the changes being made.

Even if you don’t think your industry changes very often, the chances are that a few standards or expectations have. Maybe you aren’t working in the medical or scientific field, but even those in the field of education will see changes made over time.

3. Network

Networking is vital to skyrocketing your career. A solid network can help you find advancement opportunities or positions that you never would have found on your own. Even if you aren’t looking, someone in your network might refer you to someone else and help you land a job that gives you a step up in your industry.

A great network can be made in many ways. Some people develop a strong network while at university while others don’t start networking until they jump into their career.

There’s no single time that’s better than another when it comes to starting your network. If you feel like you need to expand your network or want to begin networking altogether, now is as great a time as any.

4. Take a New Course

Earning a certification or diploma in something can really benefit you from a professional standpoint. Whether you want to earn a certificate in data entry or complete a graduate degree in business, now is a great time to get started.

Taking a course helps improve your resume, but it also expands your skillset and knowledge. It’s a challenge that not many career professionals are up for and can set you apart from other employees and candidates.

It doesn’t matter what type of course you take. If you’re a medical professional but get a certification in Spanish, it can be just as beneficial as earning a medical-related certification.

When you take a new course during your time as a career professional, you show future and potential employers that you’re still willing to learn and actively increase your knowledge. It demonstrates motivation which is a huge benefit for many businesses.

5. Find a Mentor/Mentee

Finding someone to mentor you during the process can help keep you motivated and moving forward. When you start to doubt yourself or feel like stopping part way through your plan, a mentor is there to encourage and help you.

Additionally, finding someone to mentor yourself can motivate you to continue improving. As you help your mentee grow and develop professionally, you find new reasons for wanting to skyrocket your career and move up the ladder.

The benefits of a mentor and mentee are numerous. In fact, many programs exist to help career professionals find someone who can help them. If you’re interested in finding or becoming a mentor, doing a quick industry search is likely to reveal many available opportunities.

6. Improve Soft Skills

Soft skills are essential to being a good employee and finding new career opportunities. They are specific skills that translate into every industry and aren’t taught in the same way university classes are taught.

Some of the most important soft skills are the ability to communicate well, work in a team, problem-solve, manage your time and projects, organize, adapt, and be resourceful. While some industries may prefer certain soft skills over others, they’re typically all transferable and help make you a highly desired employee.

The most qualified professionals in any industry demonstrate several different soft skills. If you’re able to work on and improve your own set of soft skills, you’ll find that your career will take off in no time.

Take Control of Your Career

There’s no need to wait around for someone to give your permission before launching your career. In fact, don’t! It’s time for you to take control and skyrocket your career on your own. Not only will you see the results you want, but you’ll have something to be proud of and look back on fondly.

Remember, it’s never too late to get started and there’s always something that can be improved.

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