If New Year’s resolutions are at the forefront of your mind right now, you’re on the right blog post. Thinking about how you can develop your career is overwhelming, but you can breathe easy because finding yourself here means you likely already have a tool that’s going to make career advancement easier: motivation. Let’s go through some creative approaches you can use to grow your skills and advance your career.

What are 5 tips to help you advance your career? 

1. Check out job descriptions

Even if you’re not actively searching for a new company right now, combing through job descriptions is a useful way to see what you can do to become a more valuable professional in your field. Knowing this information can help you negotiate raises and title changes, steer your educational goals, and ultimately give you more confidence when you’re ready to change jobs.

How to do it: Read five job descriptions for your ideal next role. Are there any patterns? Is there a certain software that keeps emerging, or an unfamiliar term you keep seeing that you need to research? Take note and let that information guide you to your next goal, inspire you to update the wording on your resume, or give you an idea of how to talk about your achievements in the next meeting with your boss.

2. Take stock of your transferable skills

There’s more to your professional skill set than what you’ve learned on the job. Taking a moment to think about some of your life experiences and how those can be utilized in the professional world is a valuable technique to build confidence and effortlessly advocate for yourself the next time you’re networking, checking in with your boss, or interviewing for a new role.

How to do it: Sit down and list some systems you’ve created, skills you’ve developed, or challenges you’ve overcome outside of work. Maybe you implemented meal planning for your family, had to assert yourself to resolve an incorrect bill or solved a logistical transport challenge when your car was being repaired. These are all great examples of skills that will show employers who you are and what you can bring to an organization.

To learn more about this topic, check our video on optimizing your resume (tip #2 covers transferable skills).

3. Develop your communication skills

knowing how to communicate effectively is important in every job and every hiring process. Whether the setting is an interview, a presentation, or just a conversation, emotional intelligence works hand in hand with technical skills. After all, it’s a lot easier to demonstrate your technical prowess to an audience that is receptive because you won them over with emotional intelligence first.

How to do it: Research is your friend! There are millions of books and career development content creators that make videos to help you improve how you communicate. Reading or watching for 15 minutes a day can teach you so much about keeping your audience engaged — bonus points if you communicate what you’ve learned with someone else.

4. Take advantage of your employer’s education budget

Did you know that many companies allocate some of their annual budget to providing educational benefits to employees? This benefit isn’t always widely-advertised; it could be just a small note in your employee handbook or training materials, but it can save you hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars on education, certifications, and seminars that you can put on your resume to help advance your career. 

How to do it: It’s worth asking your manager or HR team first to see if this is a benefit they offer. Your company could work with a third-party course provider, or they could allow you to pick out a program (like Pathstream!) that best suits your goals and pay for it or reimburse you. After that, it just comes down to filling out the necessary forms for your company’s records and getting started with your course. (Tip: if you plan on leaving your role in the near future, make sure you understand whether there are constraints on how long you need to stay at your current company after leveraging this benefit).

To learn more about this topic, check out our blog posts on how to navigate this process.

How to access employer tuition reimbursement to pay for your education

8 Employer tuition assistance questions to ask

5. Take time for self-care

If you’re reading this, it means you’re already driven and ready to move forward in your career. But one of the hazards of being driven is deprioritizing our mental and physical well-being in the pursuit of achieving our goals. Your body and mind need time to regenerate after periods of intense focus so they’re well-rested for the work ahead.

How to do it: Remember to step back from active productivity once in a while, and if doing that makes you feel anxious or unproductive, remind yourself that letting your mind and body rest or play is actually an integral part of the plan to achieve your next goal. Sit quietly, go for a walk outside, watch a movie, or play a board game. After working as hard as you’ve worked to advance your career, take some downtime. You’ve earned it.

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