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How to use your current job to build your future career

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

Career advancement is often a tricky venture, one laden with challenges, failures, and insightful – yet costly, lessons. However, with the right attitude and ambition, you may just be rewarded with opportunities for professional growth. 

While getting your dream job off the bat is a rarity for most (especially among industry newcomers), there are ways of leveraging your current role to make your way up the ladder. 

SkilsTalk dive into our top tips below, and how Upskilled’s courses can equip you with the work-ready skills you need. 

5 ways to use your current job to build your future career 

  1. Have a plan.
  2. Give your best performance.
  3. Seek new responsibilities.
  4. Build your professional network.
  5. Think like an executive.

1. Have a plan.

First things first: create a mental blueprint of your specific career goals, and the necessary steps towards achieving them. This should include both short and long-term plans. If it helps, take the time to write these down; this way, you’ll equip yourself with a physical (and visual) reminder of your broader career goals and your next course of action. 

To avoid overwhelming yourself with larger goals, it can help to break them down into smaller, actionable tasks and deadlines. 

Having a detailed plan, whether written or mentally, can help map out your course for career success – setting you on the right track and helping monitor your progress along the way. It can also inspire drive and motivation, as it offers a sense of clarity of where to go and how to get there. In an article for Forbes, career coach Ford Myers mentions that “too many people bounce through their career like a pinball in a pinball machine, but in order to achieve your full potential, every person needs a plan.” 

2. Give your best performance.

two men reviewing analytics

Secondly, be sure to put your best foot forward in the workplace. According to a guide by the Business Council of Australia; above all traits, employers value accountability, honesty, respect, and work ethic most among employees. In terms of skills, those who exhibit resilience and a high level of adaptability tend to get the job they want. 

While you may be working to get ahead, it’s important to make the most of your current position by optimising your skills and expertise. Be a valued team player by supporting your colleagues and offering help where you can. 

Learn to communicate your thoughts, ideas, and advice when necessary, and embrace changes or new challenges as they come. By giving your best work and constantly pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, you’re far more likely to find opportunities for advancement. 

Professional development can also help build on your skills and improve workplace performance. Online training providers, such as Upskilled, offer a wide variety of industry courses to help workers hone both soft and technical skills for a better career. Pursuing these may not only strengthen your current abilities, but offer new areas of expertise to explore. 

3. Seek new responsibilities 

As part of building your skills and value as a worker, take initiative in seeking new projects or responsibilities – particularly those that focus on leadership, managerial, and independent creative skills. If such tasks are unavailable, pursuing work others don’t want (such as organising inventory or administrative activities) can help demonstrate your drive and “go-getter” mindset, paving the way for bigger, better opportunities in the future.

When taking on new assignments, you’re bound to make a few mistakes – giving you the opportunity to learn from them and take accountability. As mentioned, adaptability and accountability are among the most valued traits by Australian employers, demonstrating a strong work ethic and constant drive to improve. Such workers are better able to expand their knowledge and career opportunities, setting them on track for greater success.

When approaching your manager for more responsibilities, it helps have a clear idea of the tasks you have in mind, the skills you wish to develop, and areas you’d like to grow your experience. Be sure to demonstrate how this extra work can add value to the company and its current goals, and outline your plans for taking on these tasks while managing your current workload. This reassures your boss that your current role won’t be negatively impacted by these extra projects. 

4. Build your professional network.

video conferencing concept

Your colleagues are a valuable source of knowledge, experience, and industry insight. Take the time to build meaningful connections in your current role with people who inspire you and offer insightful advice or ideas. 

Get to know your boss and their broader goals for the company, then align your current work goals with their priorities. They’ll appreciate your hard work and dedication, and are likely to open new doors for career advancement, in turn. 

Don’t be afraid to reach out to the “top players” in your industry (i.e. CEOs and experienced executives), taking the opportunity to ask thought-provoking questions and listen to any career-related advice they have to share. By initiating proper, meaningful conversations with such figures; you’ll leave a strong, memorable impression, keeping you on their radar incase of new job opportunities. 

By expanding your network of business connections, you build on your industry visibility and reputation, enhancing your chances of finding new opportunities for career progression.

4. Think like an executive.

Finally, those aspiring to senior, managerial roles should adopt the required mindset. You may not be an executive yet, but it wouldn’t hurt to start thinking like one. 

This means exerting your leadership skills when necessary, demonstrating your ability to think critically, act on your feet, guide others, and delegate tasks when required. It also involves initiating more than simply executing – going above and beyond the expectations for your current role. 

Think about what you could do to improve your work or streamline processes to improve productivity. Offer insights and constructive feedback to help stimulate your team, and learn from the victories and failures of those above you. 

As mentioned, it also helps to align your work with that of broader company goals, as this demonstrates your dedication and drive towards the success of the business. 

When it comes to leveraging your current job for your future career, you needn’t limit yourself to the work given to you. As stated by Andy Teach, author of From Graduation to Corporation: The Practical Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder One Rung at a Time: “I believe that 90% of employees are executors, but it is the other 10% who initiate, who do things that they are not asked to do, who move up the ladder the quickest.”

Need the skills for your dream job?

As mentioned, upskilling is a common step in career advancement – helping you hone your expertise, as well as build new skills, for further opportunities. 

Upskilled currently offers a wide variety of courses in multiple Australian industries (including community services, information technology, and business) to get you started. Led by industry veterans, each course is also delivered online, helping you tailor your studies around personal needs and schedule.

Do you want to boost your skills for the career you want? Enquire with us on a course today!
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*By providing your information, you agree to our Privacy Policy and to receiving email and other forms of communication from Upskilled. You are able to opt-out at any time.