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Career Advancement

By Ursala Garbrecht, Resume Writer & Job Search Coach, ResumeHorse / Vicki Lind & Associates

We all want a job where we are excited to start our week and face each day feeling calm, confident and creative. Taking charge of our career evolution allows us to grow in ways that reflect our values, skills, strengths, and lifestyle throughout our lives. Here are some suggestions to stay engaged, marketable and happy at work.

Track your accomplishments: Write out a list of successes from the last year, and then update it throughout the year. I even recommend clients get stats on a project, process, or existing work performance when they start something new. That way, when they complete the project or are ready to move on, they can talk about the impact they had such as sales or engagement went up, processes took less time, or customers were happier. Even if every project doesn’t end in a glorious accomplishment, you can at least track what you learned from the experience. This is like writing your resume as you go, and can help you see how your strengths are shaping up over time to inform potential career direction.

Reach out to spend time with people you admire. Your value to them is your curiosity and interest. Be intentional about who you select and who can be supportive professionally or otherwise. If you want to up level, you are ready for a new challenge. The more support you have, the more you will grow.

Alternately, get a protégé. Teaching is a great way to deepen your understanding or knowledge and builds leadership skills. You only need to be one step ahead to help someone grow. In fact, you might be able to relate better if the person you are helping is right behind you. A classic example is how graduate students can often answer certain questions better than professors because they were just there and understand the mindset of the undergraduate.

Set motivating goals. If you don’t know what goal to set, use the opportunity to reach out to people in your industry or on your career path who are further along to learn more. You might find some jobs are not as compelling as they are glamorous sounding. When you gain these insights into the day-to-day realities of different roles, you can determine what gaps exist in your experience in order to compete at the next level. Locating these gaps can help you identify what types or roles or projects you can seek out to gain new skills. For example, I had a client who managed finances for the resolutions area of the business. He knew that by making an impact on the bottom line, he would be able to compete for other roles with significant financial responsibility. He didn’t enjoy the mess he cleaned up during this phase, but he was able to use the success he had to transition into a project management role including larger budgets and the decision making power to proactively address issues.

Recognize that you will simply grow into something new eventually anyway. While some careers are positioned well to do the same type of work for your entire career, most aren’t. Just by recognizing that eventually you will want a new challenge and to avoid waiting until you become stagnant or scared, embrace that career change will come. While many people wait until they are unsatisfied or unemployed to start the process, the people who proactively accept the change to come and plan for it are in a much better position to compete well with confidence.

What has helped you excel in your career growth?

What types of conversations or tools do you use to motivate advancement?


The Oregon Career Development Association is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable and educational entity.

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