“I just need to get my foot in the door,” said the ill-informed job seeker. Too often obtaining a position is seen as an end goal, when in reality it should be the first rung of the ladder. This advice isn’t unique to those just entering the workforce either: as the Notorious B.I.G. once said, “The key to staying on top of things is to treat everything like it’s your first project. Like it’s your first day back when you was [sic] an intern.”
Failing to plan your next moves after getting your feet wet is a mistake all professionals need to avoid, neophytes and industry vets alike. That’s why we’ve assembled a few tips to keep the momentum up after you land that coveted job. You’ll find these business strategies will evolve as your career progresses, but the fundamentals will remain the same.
Staying up to date on advancements isn’t limited to doctors or scientists. No matter what industry you’re in, researching and keeping abreast of new and emerging ideas is always essential. Case in point: crowdsourcing has exploded in the tech and business worlds, and unless professionals were in school after 2010 or kept up on their research, they may have been left in the dust. Outside of your own workplace, looking into professional societies and seminars, industry publications, or simply searching online for independent industry and market research are all great ways of keeping up with the shifting tides.
Networking is key not only in receiving that initial offer of employment, but also in excelling once you do land it. Making new connections is something you should start day one and end once you’re buried. Just like with researching trends, seeking out professional groups or seminars is a great way to start. However, your networking shouldn’t be limited to just your professional life – it’s just as important to make and keep personal connections that one day may open opportunities for both parties. For example, if you volunteer for an organization, connect with those you help, the staff of the organization, and even other volunteers. Finally, and this should be a no-brainer, whenever you make a new connection, be sure to request/offer a card, and request a connection on Facebook or LinkedIn (whichever is more appropriate).
Chart Your Progress
Whether you have strict goals set by your position or if progress is more abstract, professionals always need to chart their momentum, and decipher the cause of any gains or losses. In a field like sales it may be as simple as reviewing your numbers, and reviewing what changes may have been made to sales approaches – what changes have worked? Which ones haven’t worked? What new changes can be made? For web design progress can be more subjective, thus reviewing will need a different approach. A designer may compare work they’ve done recently with a piece from six months prior and ask themselves a few questions: Has my overall quality changed? What techniques or tools am I using differently? How is my work being received now compared to 6 months ago? Whether or not it is requested by your employer, keeping a personal history of performance milestones and examples is an effective way to keep perspective on your professional talents.
It can be extremely easy to overinvolve yourself in a new job. Professional burnout is a very real phenomenon, and is an easy pitfall to suffer. While some factors that contribute to burnout are out of your control, what you can control are things like understanding your job expectations, improving your work dynamics, and having a healthy work-life balance. Put simply, you need to stay human – a human who has fun, can make and learn from mistakes, and has good relationships at work.
Of course, these aren’t the only steps to a successful start to a new position, but they are cornerstones on which to build a great beginning in a new chapter of life. Keep these starting suggestions in mind, as they can easily transition to lifelong business strategies throughout your professional life.