You might be still at college, just starting out after a period of study or looking into changing careers. Whatever stage youâ€™re at, itâ€™s important to know how best to prepare yourself to be successful in your chosen field.
Whether you are seeking work in the healthcare industry, hospitality and tourism, IT, construction or some other area, here are some top tips about the best way to build a path to a bright future.
Evaluate your strength and weakness: Try to assess yourself objectively, as if you were the employer. Take a hard look at your C.V. and see which skills and experience you have to offer and what you need to work on. The good thing this exercise is that it enables you to do something positive about any omissions you can see.
You might think about volunteering in area that will bolster your range of expertise or, better still, take an online course to enhance and extend your qualifications. Professional organisations offer a huge range of options for study that will really improve your employment prospects. Taking a course shows prospective employers that you take career advancement seriously and are prepared to invest in your future. It also indicates that you are open and committed to continually educating yourself in the area you have chosen.
Re-assess where youâ€™re going at least once a year: Think of this as the professional equivalent of the once a year â€˜physical examâ€™ you might get by your doctor. Set some time aside and make a list of what you have achieved and anything that you regret not having done. Do your qualifications need an update, for example? Could you do a course to extend your skills and offer your employer something more?
Itâ€™s a good idea to jot down the â€˜prosâ€™ and â€˜consâ€™ in two columns opposite each other on a piece of paper, that way they become tangible to you. A catalogue like this will help you focus on where you are going in your career â€“ and whether you are moving at the right speed and in accordance with your goals.
When youâ€™ve completed it, think about the actions you can take on the â€˜could do bettersâ€™ to make them â€˜achievementsâ€™ by the time your next â€˜check-upâ€™ comes around. Remember that you have the power and ability to change those negatives into positives.
Could you make more of your time outside work?: This is especially important if you are still at college and trying to extend those all-important networks that might get you your first break. No one is suggesting that you should devote all your time 24/7 to finding the best ways to hang out with people who might know of job openings, but extending social and professional networks will really pay dividends not only now, but also in the future.
How can you go about it? Start small. If you enjoy soccer â€“ can you find a way to play with a team that also includes people already in the industry you wish to work in? Want to work in fashion design? Try to find a way of attending the seasonal shows by volunteering at venues you know will be taking part.
Set yourself goals: These can be big or small. You can either think about developing a â€˜roadmapâ€™ for your future, carefully plotting where you want to be by a certain time, or at a certain age. Or, you just plan smaller incremental steps for improvement. Having goals helps you focus and not get side-tracked by the myriad distractions we all face.
Donâ€™t forget to look at the â€˜bigger pictureâ€™ too. Make it a priority also to develop some â€˜transferableâ€™ skills, qualifications and contacts that will help you as you move from job to job. Training in business management, accountancy and good writing skills can be applied to a wide variety of jobs in many different careers and are highly valued by all employers.
Think of paving your road to success as an exciting challenge for the future. Make sure you invest wisely in your most precious asset â€“ yourself.