By Perminus Wainaina
It’s that time of the year when you are planning for your career in 2019. You are likely looking for ways to advance to a higher post, a job better suited to your strengths, or a higher salary. Whichever the case, you are accountable for your success this year.
While there are many ways to grow in your career, some of the methods are tasking, cost a pretty penny, and can be time-consuming. There are, however, free and low-cost methods that you can incorporate and boost your career to the next level.
Here are five cheap methods you can exploit in 2019 and have your career grow;
1. Read a book and enroll in short courses
Reading is one of the most inexpensive ways to grow yourself. With a book, you can equip yourself with knowledge from some of the greatest minds ever. Try and incorporate it into your routine to read and finish a book in a month. Look for books that will increase your knowledge about your industry and career path. Some of the most successful people today allocate time out of their busy schedules to read, good examples are Chris Kirubi, Bill Gates and Strive Masiyiwa.
Moreover, look at the wide range of available short courses you can partake. Many of these courses are either free or cost a small fee. A short course will help you gain insight into your field. Other general courses such as project management, public speaking, programming, Advanced Excel and coding can give you a competitive edge over your colleagues.
Mueni is a beneficiary of the public speaking short course. She says,
“I was very shy at the beginning of last year. I was constantly invited as a keynote speaker in functions. But I kept turning them down. I couldn’t keep turning down the requests, so I decided to take up a public speaking class. Now I can speak with confidence and [I] have already honored two invites.”
When it comes to reading, the rule of thumb is read widely and increase on your knowledge.
2. Get a mentor
You may have all the right resources, but knowing how to align them and have them work towards your benefit and advance your career can be a difficult task. To aid your efforts, you can look for a mentor to help you. Ideally, the mentor should be in a similar career field, with more years of experience and more advanced than you are.
When you envision your future –ten years from now, where would you like to be? Look for a mentor who’s where you want to be.
They will guide you along your career, and advice you on what path is best to take, as well as help lift you up when you are feeling downcast.
You can also seek out the services of a professional career coach who’ll help you plan a path for your career.
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Would you like to grow into a bigger role or position in your career? Rarely will you get the chance to prove yourself worthy of the position.
You can, however, volunteer your services at the desired position. This will help you gain insight into the skills needed and then grow them as you volunteer. You can also work part-time to help you grow your skills.
Most Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community Based Organizations largely hire from their pool of volunteers.
When you volunteer in a new field or position, you’re able to network with people who could help you grow your career. You’re also exposed to new skills that you can use to propel forward your career.
4. Develop key soft skills
I have seen many colleagues who had the technical skills but lacked soft skills. Regardless of the industry you’re in, there are certain skills that will make you stand out and excel in your career. Such traits include timeliness, listening skills, and effective communication skills.
You can pick a trait to work on every month. As you work down your list, you’ll notice a difference in how you perceive your career as well as how your message is received by your colleagues.
At the workplace, for example, one of the skills that would put you ahead is great listening skills. When your colleagues speak, you need to understand what they are saying and see how it can benefit the organization. Without keen listening skills, you will lack synergy.
It is often said, “Your network is your net worth.”
If you want to advance in your career, you should try and interact with your superiors and with those you admire. These kinds of networks will not only offer insightful knowledge, they will also avail opportunities that could help you climb the career ladder.
Some of the networking platforms you can exploit include social media platforms such as LinkedIn, forums and seminars in your field and short courses.
At the end of the day, you have to put in the work to see your career grow. When you combine these low-cost tips, you’ll be well on your way into where you envision yourself. You should also update your CV to show these new added skills and competencies.
Perminus Wainaina is the C.E.O and Managing Partner at Corporate Staffing Services, a leading HR & Recruitment consultancy firm based in Westlands. Through personalized career coaching he assists mid-level and senior professionals get solutions to complex and challenging career issues that they are facing. Click here for more on career coaching.