Navigating your Career path is an ambiguous topic that can be stressful and provoke many questions. However, chances are, you are not alone if you’re wondering what’s next in your career, or how you can change and improve your current situation.
We provide career advice online and have found that many people have the same or similar questions. Below is a Q&A of the most common questions we have answered. Keep in mind this is just one opinion. If you have any additional questions you can ask on our Questions page or send us a direct message and we will answer privately.
Hopefully you can use this advice if you are in a similar situation!
How do I set my career goals?
I will start by saying that Career Goals are personal and require some self-reflection.
Start by thinking long-term. Where do you envision yourself in three years, five years? You don’t have to know the exact job or even the exact field that you want to be in, but think in terms of professional development. Where do you hope to see your career? What impact would you like to be making?
Once you’ve answered this honestly for yourself, think about what you can be doing now that sets you up for success to achieve those goals. Create objectives or milestones for yourself, and work towards these “short-term” successes to keep you on track to reach your goals.
For example, let’s say you decide you want to lead a marketing team at a Fortune 500 company. Now let’s think backwards to where you are now and what you would like to achieve along the way to this goal. Maybe you decide you need to develop a particular skill – create an objective to learn this skill either through your job or outside of work. Don’t forget to be specific and think of how you will measure this success (SMART goals).
Can a bad manager or boss ruin your career?
Only if you let them! Your career is up to you. If you work in a company with a culture that doesn’t foster open feedback to your management then you may want to see what other options are out there that are better aligned with your career goals. If your company does value upward feedback, you can certainly deliver the feedback to your management in a productive way to help them improve as a manager. A manager should want to see their employees succeed, which is a success for them as a manager.
The bottom line is: take control of your career. Start by Setting Career Goals for yourself and evaluating if your current situation is a positive environment helping you to achieve your goals.
How can I find a mentor?
One way to find mentors is through LinkedIn. You can search for people with the experience that you aspire to have yourself, people who have worked for companies that you admire, and/or people who have been in your position and moved on into different career paths.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to someone and let them know you are eager to learn about their experiences and ask for an informal phone call or meeting. Ask a lot of questions and be genuinely curious about their experience. An initial meeting can turn into a mentorship organically if it’s the right fit.
I’m [insert age] and still have no clue what I want to do with my life. How do I figure that out before it’s too late?
It’s not too late make a career change or to start focusing on finding what it is you want to do professionally to have a fulfilling career.
I would first recommend some self-reflection from the jobs you’ve previously held. What is it that you liked best about those jobs and what is it that you liked least? Now think about your strengths. What skills (hard or soft) do you excel in? That may be a hard question, but everyone has strengths.
Let’s focus on your strengths and those areas that you listed that you found fulfillment or enjoyment. It’s often not about finding your “dream job,” rather finding a job that let’s you utilize your strengths to their full potential and make an impact doing work that you find meaningful.
You can apply your learnings from this exercise to your job search and see if there are any jobs or careers out there that you didn’t previously consider but match your strengths and areas of interest.
What are good goals for a high school student to have?
Putting thought into your career goals as a high school student sets you apart from your peers, so great job already!
Start by thinking “long-term,” meaning think about the next step for you after high school. Is it to go to a top University? Do you want to go to a technical college to develop technical skills?
Once you’ve answered this honestly for yourself, think about what you can be doing now that sets you up for success to achieve that goal. Create objectives or milestones for yourself.
For example, do you need a certain GPA to get into your top school? Set short-term objectives to improve your GPA. For example, one objective could be to increase your Math test scores by 10% over the next semester/quarter. In order to do this, maybe you need to spend an average of an extra hour studying for each math test.
How do you move on after being rejected from your dream job?
Keep positive and stay focused on your career goals. Remember that a dream job is usually just a point along your career path, but you still have completely control over your career.
I would recommend setting career goals for yourself. You can start with a job search goal – remember to keep it realistic and specific. Maybe your goal is to start in a new job within 3 months. Now you have to work backwards from there creating short-term objectives that will you keep you on track and accountable for putting yourself out there enough and in the right areas to accomplish this goal.
I had an interview at [insert large company] and have not heard back. The recruiter said they would call me with feedback. Is this a bad sign?
It’s not necessarily a bad sign, there are a lot of things that could be going on internally at such a large company. While I understand this may not be the best experience for you, I would recommend reaching out to the recruiter and seeing if they have any updates for you and when you can expect an update if not. Sometimes you may just need to pop back up to the top of someone’s inbox to get a response.