Businessman climbing the career steps drawn on a black chalkboard

Stock image, Dreamstime.com

10 things you can do to boost your career

You're the only one who is responsible for your growth.

May 11, 2018 - 12:00 am

Whether you are at the beginning of your career, at a transition, or just stuck where you are: you are the only one who can change your path.  You hold the key.

Take control, and do something - even little things - that can boost your career growth and enhance your career.  Here are 10 things you can do today that will make a difference:

1. Connect with colleagues.  Build relationships with your co-workers and supervisors. When a team works together cohesively, the entire team wins. Good team players are reliable, eager, flexible, responsible, and respectful.  Trusting each other is key to working together. Everyone in the office is essential to the team, from support staff to the CEO and everyone in between.  

2. Become a member of a professional organization in your field.  Networking is not just all about "who you know," but often "who knows you."  Connecting with colleagues in your industry will expose you to new ideas and opportunities.  Explore professional groups, networking associations, your college/alumni group, advisors and friends.  Be prepared with an "elevator pitch" - a 15 second speech that describes who you are and what you're hoping to accomplish.

3. Google yourself. If potentially embarrassing information or images come up, delete or bury them. 

4. Set up or update your LinkedIn, Twitter, or other relevant social media accounts with your professional goals in mind. Reflect who you are and who you want to be.  Is your "outside work self" hurting your "professional self?"

5. Set goals: 5 short-term, 5 mid-range, and 5 long-range.  Create a career map, with goals along the way.  Where do you want to be in 10 years?  How will you get there?  In 2 years?  In 5 years?  Your goals will only work if you have a map to get you there.  Create your own GPS!

6. Check out your college’s Career Services and Alumni Office websites to see what resources are available to you.  Your college probably maintains a huge data base of graduates and their professional experiences.  Alumni are infinitely helpful in opening doors, mentoring, or offering advice.  And don't forget the Veterans Office at your university.

7. Take the initiative on a project at work.  Demonstrate your willingness to do more by volunteering to lead a project, take on a new project, or offer assistance on another.  

8. Review your paystub.  Do you deserve a raise?  We all want to make more money, but the question is, how much are you worth? Research what others in your job are making.  Use online calculators like www.salary.com or www.bls.gov. Check with professional organizations, university alumni network, classified ads, and your company's human resources department.  But don't dig too much with your coworkers.  Now, create a list of your accomplishments.  What do you, specifically, bring to the job? How have you excelled?  Document your productivity, salesmanship, teamwork, and problem solving skills.  When you ask for a raise, be prepared to back it up.

9. Create a file to keep track of your professional accomplishments.  Develop a summary of key projects you've worked on, and outline your achievements. Keep documents that support your work. 

10. Identify a mentor in your organization or in your field.  Mentors offer one-on-one relationships that promote encouragement, constructive criticism, and guidance.  Your mentor can help you set and realize professional goals.  Pick someone in your organization or industry whom you admire.  Ask him/her if they'd be open to mentoring you, and then create a plan to meet.  Mentoring relationships are based in honesty, so be prepared to look hard at yourself.  

University of Maryland University College is a proud partner of Connecting Vets.  For more information on career guidance for veterans and military, click here.