It is very common to get caught up in your current, day-to-day job that you can easily put the management and progression of your career on the back burner.  

But think about it: your career is always a work in progress.  It is always something that requires attention in terms of learning new skills, in looking or being open to new opportunities, in figuring out ways to increase your overall job satisfaction and, of course, how to increase your paycheck.

I’ve worked with hundreds of job seekers over the years who had reached a comfort level with their jobs when they suddenly found themselves in career crisis; they were laid off from their work, they got a boss they don’t like, the job itself became obsolete or the company went bankrupt.  In other cases, they simply reached a moment when they realized that they just wanted something more from their career or  wanted to pursue a long-held dream of doing something different from what they were currently doing.

Here are a few manageable steps that can help you to avoid career stagnation:

1.) Always keep your resume and LinkedIN profile updated.  I’ve heard it over and over: “That job is a perfect fit and I’d love to apply, but I don’t have an updated resume!”  If you haven’t updated your resume in a long time, you will be surprised of what is expected of a resume in order for it to be an effective career-seeking tool.  Work with a professional resume writer to make sure your resume is top-notch and ready to go.  I recommend Ruth Pankratz at Gabby Communications.  She’s a certified resume writer who can worth with you to update your resume, your LinkedIN profile as well as cover letter creation and other job-search strategies.

2.) Be on the lookout for new opportunities!  Use your favorite job boards to prospect for new opportunities but also talk with colleagues and friends to find out about new opportunities.  People who know you best will be the ones that refer new job opportunities to you.  In addition, if you have your eye on a specific industry or a company, constantly keep an eye out on new jobs, developments and other information that suggests new opportunities.

3.) Keep your skills sharp.  Be a life-long learner!  If you feel you need additional or up-to-date skills to progress your career, it is never too late to go back to school.  Often, professional associations provide valuable certification training programs and many community colleges, online universities and private training organizations provide individual courses to learn specific skills.  Check with your current company to see if they will reimburse you for skills training programs and costs related to professional association participation.

4.) Look for opportunities in your current company.  Chances are, your employer doesn’t want to lose you.  You’ve been there a while, you know their business, you have a record of success and accomplishment.  If you are unhappy or burnt out at your job, talk to your boss or to your HR Department and let them know you need a new challenge.  See if there are new opportunities in other departments or ways for you to move up in your current division.

The bottom line is this:   Work and happiness don’t have to be exclusive things. The fact is that life is too short to be unhappy at your job.  You can and should be happy with your work and your career choice.  You spend more time working at a job then you do with your family, your spouse or enjoying special things outside of work that you like to do.    But like anything, if you have a career goal, it requires planning, determination and persistence and in many cases, a complete change of focus in terms of how to go about achieving your dream.  Learn from others, constantly manage your goal and keep determined.  Do something every single day – no matter how small – to progress forward in your goal and you’ll start to find that what seems to be an overwhelming leap has become achievable through manageable, day-to-day steps forward.

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