It’s one thing to have a successful day or project, but consistent career success takes work. Luckily, Hays’ Dan Rodriguez is here to give you a step-by-step guide to get there.
I’ve always believed that you can only get so far in your career without being personally committed to driving forward your own career success.
Yes, you may be talented and you may impress your boss with these talents but, without committing yourself to progressing forward, this is where your career journey will grind to a halt.
Sustained success takes an unwavering commitment and focus – not just now, but continuously throughout your career. Here are six things you need to habitually commit to if you want long-term career success.
Commit to an end goal
I’ll start with the most obvious, but ultimately the most important point: your end goal. Make sure you are clear with yourself on where you want to be in your career in one, three and five years’ time. Now draw up a list of realistic targets for the next few months that can help you to meet this goal.
From here on, commit to regularly checking in with yourself to see how much progress you have made with your targets, which new ones need to be set, and whether your end goal has changed and strategy needs to be adjusted.
I will also add that it is important to ensure you are working with a boss who is happy to help you meet your goals, provided you are willing to work hard and stay focused.
Commit to making the most of your strengths
So now you’re clear on what your end goal is, it’s time to channel your strengths into working towards it. Identify your key skills and remember to consider your soft skills, ie the skills that reflect your personality, such as being well organised. How could you use these skills to boost your career prospects?
It could be a case of applying more of these skills to your day-to-day role in order to achieve better outcomes, or asking for more opportunities to put these skills into practice.
For instance, you may have strong communication skills, and are particularly good at teaching others. As such, you should ask your boss for more chances to do this, whether it’s training new starters or even different departments at your organisation.
Commit to always looking for new ways to bring your best self to the company and make sure you are given the chance to prove your potential.
Remember to add any increments in responsibility and wins to your CV, online professional profiles and so forth, so that you can draw on these examples when moving upwards in your career, whether it’s asking for a pay rise, a promotion or interviewing for a role elsewhere.
Commit to continuously learning
Now it’s time to be honest with yourself. Which areas of your job do you struggle with and how could you develop? Think about your typical working day and the tasks that tend to take longer because you find them difficult. How can you improve in this area?
Make honest self-reflection and improvement a part of your everyday working life, no matter how far you get in your career. Even the top business leaders will never stop learning.
Take myself, for example. Every morning when I wake up, my first thought is: how can I be better than I was yesterday? How can I be a better father, a better spouse and a better boss? That drives me to continually find opportunities to learn, grow and improve.
I have taken inspiration from the most successful people I know, as these are the people who will constantly ask questions, push themselves out of their comfort zone and teach themselves new things. This is the inquisitive mindset that got them to where they are today.
Commit to acknowledging your mistakes
Even as you develop as a professional, overcome your obstacles and improve your knowledge, you will still make mistakes – everybody does. Some will panic, feeling like they have let themselves and others down, or like they have ruined their chances of career success.
If this sounds familiar, you need to commit to changing your reaction. Next time you make a mistake, try to see the situation objectively, removing some of the negative emotion from it. You could even pretend you are looking at someone else’s mistake or problem if that helps.
What exactly has gone wrong? What is the best course of action? Who needs to be told what? Which practical steps can you take next? Taking the time to see the issue objectively can give you a bit more of the clarity and perspective needed to come up with a solution.
Next, remember that honesty is the best policy, so don’t take too long to communicate the problem to those affected. Don’t blame others, don’t come up with excuses and don’t be too self-deprecating. Relay the facts, your suggested remedy and what you will take on board for next time.
It is important that you accept the fact that in your career, there will be curveballs and you will make mistakes. This is not a hindrance to your success, just so long as you commit to a transparent, solution-oriented approach and learn from each mistake as you continue along your career path.
Commit to building and nurturing your network
Committing to your career success also involves building upon your existing network within the business and outside of it, and developing a good relationship with the colleagues and professionals who can help you to reach your career goals.
Start by identifying the most influential and effective people within your organisation, from those who seem to be on a meteoric rise to success within the company, to those already at the top.
It is easy to build a rapport with these people if they are in your department, especially if you are in regular contact with them. But how can you reach out to the stakeholders who you don’t see on a daily basis?
The key is to look out for opportunities to build relationships with such people. For instance, if they are hosting an internal training session, attend, listen and ask questions. If their team wins an award or launches a new product, offer up your congratulations in person, and show your support and interest.
I would also strongly advise finding a mentor; someone you admire and trust, and, importantly, someone who is credible enough to give you confidential guidance and support.
Meetings with your mentor will ensure you have a set time in your diary to prioritise your own development on a regular basis. This is also a great opportunity to build relationships with senior stakeholders while learning some valuable lessons about their own journey to career success.
Commit to maintaining your work-life balance
Of course, committing to your career success and following the above advice involves hard work and dedication, but don’t make the mistake of being so hellbent on career success that you forget to take a break. In doing this, you risk hitting a wall or exhausting yourself, which will only serve to hinder your progress.
Take care of yourself, don’t stay in the office until all hours of the night, don’t work every weekend and don’t stay glued to your laptop or mobile phone even when you’re on annual leave. Everybody needs time to relax and unwind, and everybody – no matter how successful – should maintain the right work-life balance.
In short, if you want to achieve continued success throughout your career, you need to commit to the above actions and never letting these slip, no matter how senior you get. In maintaining this commitment and focus towards your own progression, no doubt you will constantly grow as a professional and reach your ultimate ambitions.
Dan Rodriguez is the CEO and managing director of Hays US.
A version of this article originally appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blog.