Even before she graduated, Nelly Nyaga had an employer. The 38-year-old fashion and design professional had perfected the art of using the darn needle and coming up with creative designs for women’s tops and dresses. And to further boost her venture, a new crocheting company was setting up in the country. She didn’t need to look for a job.
After working for the employer for five years, she decided to leave in search of pastures green. To her utter dismay, she found out that her skill was no longer unique in the job market. Getting another job became a herculean task.
Where Nelly went wrong is to use her skills only for the purpose of getting a job, rather than to build a career. So, what’s the difference?
Job v Career
A job is a paid position of employment whereas a career is the long term plan of an individual’s professional life. A career is a combination of skills, jobs, experiences, relationships, and qualifications that you gather at work over a period of time.
That is why it is so critical for employers to ask, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” It is also the reason why many go back to school or take short courses to further develop their skills.
Whether you are just getting into the job market or have been in it for years, you need to start looking at your job as a career. Here is how to go about it.
Focus on growth
If you work at the same place, doing the same role for five consecutive years, you will certainly get better at your trade. But what happens if you lose that job? For instance, Nelly had been crocheting for five years and she was really good at it, but it was the only thing she was great at.
When she started looking for another job, she interacted with other people, some younger than her, who had worked for fewer years but had more diverse skills. Nelly had become so comfortable at her workplace that she failed to realise that she had stopped growing.
Know your strengths
To achieve personal growth, you need to be aware of your strong qualities. That way, you will take up opportunities that promise to enhance your strengths. You must also know your weaknesses so that you can improve.
Seek leadership opportunities
Leadership roles will broaden your perspective and teach you to make good decisions and to come up with practical solutions. Good leadership skills will always give you an edge over the rest.
Create a brand
Have you ever wondered why many companies spend millions on branding? They do that to establish themselves in the market and gain the trust of potential clients. Building a brand is very important. You want people to know what you do and who you are. You can do this by creating a blog, professional social media profile or simply providing top notch services.
Build strong networks
Every new person you meet can teach you something new. More importantly, that is a chance to create a lifelong, profitable relationship. From your networks, whether online or offline, you can get to know about some new short courses to advance your skills, job openings, or even tips for self-improvement.
Set smart goals
There are some who sign a new job contract with an exit strategy already in place. This does not mean that they do not plan to immerse themselves fully into their new roles. It means they have goals. They know what they want to achieve in the next three years, and they come up with concrete plans on how to get there. Setting targets can help you get out of your comfort zone and maintain focus.