8 Ideas to Help Launch Your Career

Dec 19, 2014 9:00 AM ET

8 Ideas to Help Launch Your Career

Dr. Marla Gottschalk recently shared a blog post on LinkedIn with some great tips on how to help launch your career. She’s an industrial/organizational psychologist and serves as Director of Thought Leadership at Kilberry Leadership Advisors in Toronto.

Whether you’re new to the workforce or starting with a new organization, she says it’s important to set the stage early, showing that you will be a high performing contributor. Here are some things she recommends:

  • Work with a sense of urgency. High performing employees see the necessity to build a “clear and present” road map and stay on task. As one manager described, “They get up in the morning, have a plan and want to accomplish their goals.” Identify your best strategies to remain focused. Deal with any obstacles head on.
  • Strive to be industry savvy. Keeping up with current “waves” in your industry is critical. (The internet offers endless possibilities to tackle industry specific topics that are relevant to your role and organization. You can also network with in-house experts as well.) Get up to speed as quickly as you can — and don’t coast.
  • Bolster your level of business acumen. Often neglected, knowing the nuts and bolts of the business side of your organization will likely help you excel. Start with the basics. What does your boss really do? Do you fully understand how your team contributes to profits (and losses) within your organization? Devote time to develop this important business “muscle.” (See Susan Colantuono’s TED Talk on the topic here.)
  • Take a broader view of your work. When completing an assigned project, try not to simply check off tasks on your “to do” list. Always focus on the end-user — whether it is an outside client or someone within the organization. How does your work impact them? How can you craft your work so it becomes more valuable to them? Take a moment to consider the “bigger picture.”
  • Ask about company initiatives. Be just as concerned about your organization, as you would like them to be about you. Inquire about current challenges and initiatives they face. Offer help when appropriate.
  • Know your fellow team members. Becoming a well-respected, productive team member is an art form — and an important part of work life today. So, do your research. You’ll be more invested in your team if you know the backgrounds of your fellow team members. If you have a tendency to “turn off” opposing opinions — you may look at things quite differently, when you truly know the source.
  • Consider taking a risk. To grow, we need to push the envelope — and this includes honing new skills. Consider a stretch assignment or serving on a project outside of your comfort zone. Don’t stagnate. If you feel you have reached a plateau, explore options to bring more into your work life.
  • Don’t play the career comparison game. Career progress is a highly individual process. It may be frustrating when a fellow employee climbs the career ladder more quickly than you — but there may be a perfectly good reason. Don’t “abandon ship.” Trust in your value and have confidence in your skill set.

These seem like good tips for all employees to remember as they move forward with their careers. One more tip for recent graduates is to seek out all resources to help you make a great first career connection. One resource, 1stGig, is actually a recruitment service – not a static job board – that can help you make connections with companies that are seeking potential employees with skills just like yours. You simply create a profile with your skills and workplace preferences, and when there’s a 100% match, you get to choose whether to pursue the opportunity. Check it out today.