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Boost your career with these 5 actions

Tuesday, December 2, 2014  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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By Kathy Caprino

The inner and outer steps a person has to take to be happy in her work defy easy analysis or a quick "score.” But, after the thousandth request, I created a tool that gives professionals a clear idea of what they’re doing right — and what they’re missing — in building a career they’ll love for the long haul. The Career Success Readiness Quiz outlines 30 steps that are essential for career success.

I thought I had my finger on the pulse of what’s holding people back from happier careers, but after reviewing the results from more than 4,000 survey takers, I can honestly say I’m floored. I found 15 of the 30 steps are being neglected by more than 40 percent the population surveyed (professional women and men around the world, at all levels).

Related: 5 assumptions that destroy career happiness

More eye-brow raising? These five essential steps are being neglected by more than 60 percent of those studied:

1. Power networking. You can’t succeed and reach your best life and career if you’re in a vacuum. You need great people to help you — loyal fans, ambassadors, mentors, sponsors, friends — people you respect and admire who think the world of you and your work, and will open doors and make important introductions for you. You can’t rise to the next level if you’re slogging through your career alone.Focus on meeting at least one new person a month who inspires you.

2. Connecting with people outside your company. I’ve worked with scores of clients from Fortune 100 companies who come to me desperate for a career or job change, but they suddenly realize they know nobody outside of their company. And they’ve been there so long that they don’t know how to proceed. You need to build a powerful support community beyond the folks you immediately work with.Don’t wait. Get out there and meet new people every month who will expand your horizons and show you what life is like outside of your company. It’s critical that you keep your options open at all times, to avoid feeling trapped at a job that no longer fits.

3. Interviewing regularly. No matter how happy you are at your job, you need to be interviewing regularly (numerous times a year) and exploring new partnerships and collaborators. Don’t make the mistake I see over and over with folks over 45 who’ve been suddenly laid off, and haven’t interviewed in 10 years. Whatever your age, you need the practice of communicating to hiring managers exactly why you’re amazing and why you should be hired. Secondly, even if you’re happy at your job, there are fabulous opportunities out there that you should be aware of and going for, to help you guide your career trajectory more authoritatively.

4. Shaping your career. Angie Ruan, PayPal’s retail engineering head told me recently that the most powerful advice she’s ever received (from her first mentor Terri Jordan, vice president of eBay operations at the time) was: "You have to work on every part of your career to assure promotion. Your career is something you have to take control of explicitly.” Too many people let their careers just happen, rather than taking the reins and steering the course. Start today by developing both long- and short-term S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely) goals and find a supportive coaching buddy to hold you accountable to make these goals a reality. You spend most of your time on this planet at work — don’t you want to make the most of it?

5. Career change transition planning. Thousands of people reach out to me each year desperate for a career change, but very few have done the work of identifying the best directions to pursue, "trying on” these directions to make sure they’re a true fit, and, finally, building a solid transition plan with realistic financial and professional goals to get there. You don’t have to go broke to be happy. You can improve your career and redirect your work to something more satisfying without losing everything. But to do it, you need a strong, vetted and proven plan that will take you there.

Take care of these five important career-building actions and your career will thrive!

Kathy Caprino is a nationally recognized women’s career and leadership coach and speaker dedicated to the advancement of women in business. Author of Breakdown, Breakthrough, Caprino is a contributor to ForbesHuffington Post and AARP. Follow her on Twitter at @kathycaprino. For Kathy's original post on this topic, visit her Forbes Leadership blog "Career Bliss.”

Views expressed in signed blogs and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and sponsors.

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