Education

10 tips for boosting your career in 2011

From developing cross-functional skills to aligning your contributions with company goals, these tips will help you map out a plan for advancing your career in 2011.

The start of a new year offers a prime opportunity for charting a course for career advancement. Executive recruiter Kathryn Ullrich shares her advice for managing your career in the months to come.

Note: This article originally appeared as an entry in our Career Management blog. It's also available as a PDF download.

1: Look out for number 1

Take responsibility for your own career development. Many large organizations have scaled back on training and development -- a common outcome of the economic downturn -- and small companies can rarely provide significant support. Simply put, your career rests in one set of hands: yours.

2: Be strategic

Have a long-term career strategy, or at the very least, a sense of where you're headed. Ask yourself, "What do I really want to do?" or "Where do I see myself in five to 10 years?" Seek people in similar roles and ask for their advice.

3: Work in step with your company's goals

Connect the dots from your role to your company's vision and key objectives. How does your work align with the organization's goals? What can you do to maximize your contributions?

4: Be customer-centric

Whether your customers are internal or external, know their wants and needs and be fervent about meeting them. Bring the voice of the customer into your day-to-day work and let it enhance your decisions and deliverables.

5: Collaborate

Working with and through others is requisite to innovating, creating, and producing business results. Adopt a mindset for teaming and collaborating and put it into daily practice.

6: Hone your communication skills

Communication skills can make or break careers. Pick one area that needs your attention -- considering skills such as listening, presenting, influencing, persuading, or distilling messages -- and commit to improvement. Take a class, practice with a trusted friend or colleague, or join a group such as Toastmasters.

7: Cross over functionally

Many successful executives have risen through the ranks by taking cross-functional roles, such as moving from finance to sales or from marketing to IT. Follow their lead and you can grow your skills, your network, and your political capital.

8: Expand your experience

Volunteer for special projects or assignments that are outside your everyday role. Discuss your goals with your boss, an HR representative, or a senior leader and ask for help in finding opportunities to broaden your experience base.

9: Find a guide

Mentors can serve as influential role models and provide important guidance for your career. Reach out to a potential mentor within your company or industry and see if he or she would be open to mentoring you for a specific purpose and timeframe.

10: Network -- now

The best time to increase your network is... today. Starting now, get involved in groups such as professional associations, charitable organizations, or even sports leagues. Step into leadership roles and make your expertise known.

Bonus tip: Specialize

Today, companies look for specialists, not generalists. Develop a personal brand, distinguish your skills and strengths, and determine how to best market yourself.

Kathryn Ullrich is a Silicon Valley-based executive search consultant and author of the award-winning book Getting to the Top: Strategies for Career Success. She also serves as associate director of Alumni Career Services at UCLA Anderson School of Management.

15 comments
ankitk
ankitk

update your knowledge level......

deveshsingh
deveshsingh

but i want to go towards vlsi chip designing side.what are the opportunities???

ClaudiaVandermilt
ClaudiaVandermilt

,,,and your experience. Professional training can be a big boost to your career, either within your current company or at another one.

Hamid.R.Naseri
Hamid.R.Naseri

There was very useful . hope to post some other .

braa
braa

it seem security is the matter now days since there are alot of attack from the network

Dinosteveson
Dinosteveson

I developed a database program with ms access, and i wish to develop executable file for the program in order to make it an installable program, which will only run on ms access, please which software development program should i use, someone advised me to use visual basic. Is it ok, if not which software development program can I used. Help!

sconyers
sconyers

English may or may not be your first language, but I for one find it hard to take someone seriously when they spell the same word two different incorrect ways in the same post. This goes along with personal branding and professionalism.

batchsowjanya
batchsowjanya

just in this year i have started my carrier in s/w company without any experience can u gv me some suggestions how to improve my knowledge skills inorder to secure a better position than right now

bvdon
bvdon

Great advice - definitely applies to my current job.

CareerSaverSamantha
CareerSaverSamantha

Great point! Take responsibility for your experience, knowledge & education. The IT industry is unique because professionals in this field have the opportunity to really hone in on various skills and validate their knowledge with a range of certifications. CareerSaver even offers free courseware and a no pass/no pay guarantee!

jakerson9
jakerson9

The thrust of this article is that visiblility and personal branding helps your career. If you want to LOOK valuable, it helps to BE valuable. Here are three somewhat inter-related suggestions: 1) Be unique. If YOU are the only answer... you will be in demand. 2) Be creative. If YOU bring new ideas, you will be in demand. 3) Solve problems. If YOU put out fires, you will be in demand. All of these will increase your demand by making your contributions more valuable.

Quackula
Quackula

This is nothing new, you should be doing this in good times and in bad times as well.

binukavumkal
binukavumkal

The points are found very useful and practical. For me "Networking" is essential and "expand your experience"

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