5 Career Questions You Need To Ask Yourself in 2021 (Part 5 of 6)
Taking your career to the next level in 2021 may seem like a sick cosmic joke to some people, especially to those whose industries have been severely affected by the pandemic. Some people have lost their jobs, taken pay cuts and reduced benefits to help their companies’ cash flow; and although a glimmer of hope is showing at the end of the tunnel, it might be a long journey to recovery for some.
Given this, you might be perplexed with the 4th installation of this 6-part series - how in the world are you going to level up your career given this disheartening landscape? Leveling up has a lot to do with the way you think, and the way you approach things. It may mean shifting your direction towards a path you’re much better off on and following through on that. It may mean taking two steps back from a path you’re not supposed to be on and taking one step towards the right direction.
So how do you level up your career in 2021? You can start by answering these 5 questions:
Are you where you want to be?
Before you go into the specifics of things, you must ask yourself first: are you where you want to be? Are you happy? Are you valued? Do you (almost regularly) dread Mondays and going back to work? Is your workplace providing you with opportunities to grow both as a person and as a professional? Your work right now may not be the place you’ve envisioned for yourself 5 years ago, but has it pleasantly surprised you in the process? Or do you feel stuck, with no foreseeable end in sight?
Reflection, or self-reflection, happens when you pay very close attention to your own thoughts, feelings and behavior. It allows you to consciously assess how you feel towards the things that are happening to you and the situations that you are in. It is looking into your values, inspirations, aspirations and cross comparing them to your current situation - do they match?
If you find that they are, then very good for you! All career paths will have their bad days and bad turns as nothing is ever going to be perfect. But as long as you feel inspired and what you do speaks to your purpose, then you are most probably in the right path. You just have to keep going and watch out for opportunities to learn more.
If the answer is no, or you’ve been laid off, for example, there is definitely no need to despair. You’ve already done the first step - you’ve identified the problem. There is something that you want to change, and that gives you a sense of purpose and direction - you become a man on a mission.
What are you doing to improve yourself and your skills?
If you’re a man on a mission, you set your eyes out on a goal. You focus on that goal and come up with a game plan to achieve it. One good component of your game plan could be improving the set of skills that you have; fortifying and strengthening your strongest suits and capitalizing on that.
You can take advantage of a lot of online courses and resources that are available for free. These programs range from diverse topics and each course is designed to work based on your schedule preferences.
Is your CV/résume updated?
Be honest, how long ago since you last updated your résume? When was the last time you took a corporate headshot for yourself? Is your résume photo still from your college graduation even though you graduated more than 5 years ago?
Even if you’re not applying for a new job, it’s always good to keep your profile updated with changes in your job description, the trainings you’ve attended, even the new skills you’ve gained! These things pile up over the years and it is difficult and will most likely take more time to remember them all at once, as opposed to updating the file every time there’s new information.
Your résume is a written collection of your professional achievement and milestones. It speaks for you when you are not in the room, so give it the proper voice to do your awesomeness justice.
Are you making authentic connections?
Look at your LinkedIn profile, and see how many connections you have. Of those connections, how many do you actually know? How many do you genuinely think you can learn from? If you answer not too many, then it might be time to authentically connect with people and expand your network.
Reach out to people whose industries you’re curious to know more about. Who knows, you might find yourself a career mentor who will be able to teach you some tricks of the trade. They say experience is the best teacher and how awesome will it be for someone to impart their acquired wisdom through their experiences to you? The idea of getting a mentor (or even mentoring someone whom you know might benefit from it) comes from a place of humility - from knowing and recognizing that no matter how successful and “self-made” you are, there’s always an opportunity to learn something new.
When you’re looking at your work issues, there’s a tendency that your judgment may be biased. A mentor, on the other hand, is an “outsider” looking in who may be able to provide you with a fresh perspective and a new angle on things which you may not be able to see from your side.
Are you ready and willing to make the change?
You’ve reflected and identified the problem, you’ve updated your résume and you’ve made connections; the most important question is, are you ready and willing to make the change? Change is scary and some people are not willing to do it for fear of uncertainty which is a very valid point especially from a survival standpoint.
Change requires putting in the work and making sacrifices. It can mean long hours and efforts towards something that may or may not work out in the end. But you know what? Change can also mean waking up Monday morning feeling refreshed, energized and ready to take work challenges head-on. It can mean being in a place where you’re valued, respected, and celebrated for the contributions you bring and the impact you make.
It doesn’t always have to be radical changes for something rewarding to happen, sometimes small incremental baby steps get the job done as well. What matters is, you have to be very strategic about every step that you take. You also don’t always have to keep moving. It’s okay to stop, take stock of what’s happening, regroup and recoup. Look at the bigger picture and see how each piece of the puzzle connects to the rest.
Whichever way you want to take the trajectory of your career for 2021, know one thing: you are worth it. Step in your purpose and wear your confidence like a glove that fits perfectly and watch things happen. That’s it for part 5, see you in the last one!