Human beings are inherently creative creatures. Whatever we do, we end up seeing ourselves working and earning. We can’t stand being alienated from our work, and that is where comes the notion of taking charge of your career trajectory.
Now, more than ever, people are looking at jobs from an entirely different perspective. Growth at a professional and a personal level is now at the forefront of the decision-making when it comes to a person’s career. The days of finding an excellent job that pays well enough and settling down for life have all but disappeared.
The generations of today and those that will follow are nothing if not ambitious. Ambitious, not in the outward, heartless numbers and salaries, but in a more internal, personal tone of being content.
Now, when it comes to developing your career by yourself, it means making things happen rather than waiting for something to happen. For your career trajectory to go upward, you have to take charge and know the ways around growth.
After all, in today’s competitive world, you can’t rely on just one way to succeed that you’ve known. You need to keep on innovating and looking for shortcuts and off-road a little if you are to get hold of that elusive state known as “self-satisfaction.”
It’s “Career Trajectory,” Not “Job Trajectory”
If the subhead hasn’t already given it away, the career trajectory is more than just jobs.
Career trajectory is as much about the external world (jobs, the company your work for, your paycheck) as it is about how confident you feel from within and about your knowledge and skills (job satisfaction, the enhancement of your skills).
Both small things, like customizing your LinkedIn URL, or major things such as job hunting, are essential parts of your career development but are by no means it. Taking different workshops, learning new and relevant skills, and always striving to make yourself better in every sense of the word is equally important.
Hence, the fate of your career trajectory is in your hands entirely.
You may be doing well in the job you have and getting paid well. But are you growing when it comes to skills? Are you satisfied? Well, if the answer to these couple of questions is not a resounding yes, it is time for you to step ahead and take charge of your career trajectory.
How to do it? Well, that’s where this blog comes in. Sit tight and read on.
1. Jack of All Trades, Master of “One”.
Don’t let the subhead deceive you. It means that there is no problem whatsoever in knowing a little bit of everything in a particular industry. The problem arises when you fail to concentrate on one niche and stand out in it or when you’re comfortable knowing a little bit of almost everything but not knowing nearly everything about one.
Being the proverbial “jack of all trades” is not the problem; being the “master of none” is. It may make you a favorite of your colleagues who always seek advice on all matters, but what does it do to your career trajectory?
Well, it is sure to make climbing higher up the ladder very hard, and you might end up shifting career paths too often and in a hurry. You should instead invest your attention and energy into becoming the master of “one.”
How can you do it? Well, here’s how you can begin:
- Follow the experts of the niche of your choice online and offline. Listen to them, and try to ascertain the needs of the niche.
- Make sure that you know all the paths, roundabouts, and shortcuts of that niche. Keep learning and know that it is a slow process, and you need to be consistent.
- You can also choose your niche or shift careers smartly. For instance, looking for niches where there is less competition and never a shortage of work.
2. Take Constant Feedback From Employers and Colleagues
SWAT analysis is a word that is thrown around quite often in corporate circles. Although there is nothing wrong with doing a self-analysis now and then, can you always rely on your own opinion about yourself? Wouldn’t it help if you talked to your employers and colleagues every once in a while and tried to understand what’s different about you in a good or a bad way?
Yes, it will help, and it will also clear out a path for you and tell you where you can proceed with your career trajectory.
Furthermore, it will also send a clear message to your employers that you are willing to change and grow. After all, your work alone cannot send such a message. There are times where you have to let others know about your drive and ambition in all sorts of direct and indirect ways.
Also, personally, you will know precisely where you need to work harder to stand out and be noticed by the industry people. As already mentioned, your career development's fate rests equally on getting noticed and growing with your skills and gaining more confidence.
3. Thinking Out of the Box and Your “Department”.
Career growth isn’t something that comes to you. One should be willing to reach out and take it. You can justify sitting in your comfort zone in myriad ways, but it would be lying to yourself.
Choosing a niche and working on it is great, but that niche should be made with a free mindset. The inhibitions about shifting departments and working in a new, seemingly hostile setting will surely be unpleasant. But, wait, who said taking charge of your career trajectory would be easy?
You have to think differently and keep an eye on opportunities left, right, and center. Who knows, there might be a great opening in a different department, and you might offer something the department desperately needs. This is how you can twist your career on its head in a moment of the decision.
The trick is always to choose growth discomfort and positive change over the comfort of a stagnant career.
4. A Mentor to Guide Your Career Trajectory
It is admirable to have absolute independence in your thinking. Yet, when it comes to the more narrowed down alleys of your career where one needs guidance now and then, a mentor will not harm you. The only thing to keep in mind is that your choice of mentor should be wise.
My mentor said, ‘Let’s go do it,’ not ‘You go do it.’ How powerful when someone says, ‘Let’s!’ — Jim Rohn
The greatest and the most creative of personalities in history have had mentors. From the great Greek philosophers to the world leaders of any era, having a good mentor has changed people’s lives.
There are many ways to choose your mentor and approach them. They can be someone in the industry you admire or just somebody you love the thought process of. After all, your mentor doesn’t always need to belong to your niche or your department.
It has to be somebody who gives you hope but is also willing to put a clear mirror in front of you when the need arises. As a career counselor, a mentor can, without a doubt, do wonders for your career trajectory.
5. Your Career Trajectory, Your Choices
This journey that we refer to as career trajectory is in itself personal. Any growth, be it external or internal, is your own. It is a personal journey that you have to make from where you currently are to the desired point. And hence, the journey is governed by your choices.
Define your career goals, what point do you want a reach at your professional and personal level. Make your career plan. Stick to it, measure your accomplishment and mistakes, adjust when necessary, and do what it takes to reach your goals.
It is a self-explanatory point, you might think, but it is something that people often fall out of touch with. They tend to forget, either willingly or subconsciously, that although other factors affect your career growth, the underlying reason is always the choices you’ve made.
Be it the choice of the niche you wish to become perfect at or the workshops you choose to attend. The choice of a mentor to guide you or the big career decisions you might face, such as shifting departments for better opportunities. Be it taking up new projects or be it letting go of what you considered a necessity. Every one of these decisions adds up to take you forward.
Hence, you have to realize that no one will walk the hard steps for you, and no one will make the choices. Only you will make the choices, and only you will reap the rewards or suffer the consequences.
So, step ahead, leave the excuses behind, and embrace the unpredictability. Only by risking it can you achieve the heights that you’ve always wanted to achieve. After all, it needs to be the perfect blend of improving internally as a professional and person, along with efforts to be noticed by the right people at the right time.
Remind yourself to have a goal and stick to it, adjust when necessary. If you want to start right, be good at one thing, be the specialist that everyone trusts. Then you will be able to learn related things step by step and gradually.
To learn new skills and take your chances, think outside the box. It may look like jargon, but how you'll learn more than anyone if you’re doing the same things as the others? How would you be able to outperform if you are not innovating?
And last but not least, have your plan, adapt when necessary, and enjoy the journey. A mentor can help your guidance during the journey, but it’s up to you to make the necessary efforts to get there.