Unless you’re deliriously happy with the job you have, you’ve probably spent some time thinking about your next step. Whether you’re looking toward a promotion in your current company, are hoping to land a position somewhere else, or are contemplating a total career change, you’ve got to do more than daydream about it. Opportunities may be all around you, but you have to be ready for them. Your next job depends on how prepared you are today.
So what are you waiting for? Now’s the time to put your thoughts into action:
Plan Your Move
Decide what your goal is, and then make a plan to reach it. First, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Is it realistic? Optimism is a wonderful thing, but if you’re not ready to do a job, wishing won’t make it happen. Assess your qualifications and consider whether you need more training or experience before you go for it. Also, If a job you think you want requires an unusual schedule, for example, or extensive travel, are you able and willing to spend a lot of time away from your family? Can you pick up and move if the best opportunity for the kind of job you want is based in another city or state?
- Does it match your interests? A job may sound good on paper, but do you know what the working routine will entail? Having a title doesn’t mean you’re going to like the day to day work. A job that engages you makes the workday fly. (More or less, anyway.) One that you have to drag through from 9 to 5, even if the pay is great, is going to have a negative effect even after you leave the office.
- Are the long-term prospects good? Research the market for the job you’re contemplating. Is it a growing field? Is there high demand for people who can do it or is there an over-abundance of qualified people doing the same work? If the outlook isn’t positive, be prepared to shift course.
- Will it provide the money you need? Money isn’t everything, but the bottom line is that your job needs to support you during your active working life and also provide retargets for your retirement. It’s no small consideration.
Upgrade Your Education
Whatever job you’re working at currently, prepare for your next one by enrolling in an AACSB-accredited online MBA program to broaden your scope of knowledge and give you new tools for effective communication, critical thinking, and creative problem-solving. Not only will it hone the professional skills you already have and add new ones, having an MBA on your resume will allow you to compete for a greater range of opportunities.
Continue to Develop Yourself
Don’t stop searching out opportunities to learn more and do more at the job you have. Contribute as much as you can to team efforts. Make yourself available for more responsibility. Bring new ideas to the table. Study what’s going on in your industry and related fields, and make sure you stay on top of what’s happening in your own organization.
Be Your Own Best Advertisement
The business world can be tough, and it’s filled with people who are looking to get ahead. You may not be highly competitive by nature, but it won’t serve you at all to keep your best qualities hidden. As you continue to work toward your next move, be aware of how you are perceived and how you want to present yourself.
- Record your achievements. Keep track of all your successes in terms of project results, sales figures, or whatever other ways you can quantify the record of value you’ve brought to your employer. Those are what count when you’re in line for an upgrade where you are or a new position elsewhere.
- Promote yourself. Don’t be shy about letting people know what you can do, not by bragging, but by sharing information that makes you look good. Everyone else is doing the same thing, so you’re keeping yourself on the sidelines if you don’t self-promote, too.
- Enlist your boss as a mentor. Make sure he or she knows you’ve prepared yourself to move on up, and ask for advice and guidance. Your success will reflect well on your boss, and any good boss will want to help you achieve it.
- Keep your contacts current. Network and keep in touch with people who can advise you and open doors to new opportunities. Do what you can to help others, also, because a little good karma never hurts.