By Perminus Wainaina
Where would you like your career to be like? Are you where you had envisioned you’d be a few years ago?
Recently, I had attended a professional training event. At the end of the event, one lady approached me. For her privacy, I will refer to her as Alice. Alice wanted help on getting her career back on track.
When we later spoke, she shared how she had worked as a customer service executive in the banking industry. She had worked with the organization for six years and had risen in the ranks to become one of the top professionals in her department.
Late last year, she took maternity leave to nurse her infant. After the leave period was over and it was time to go back to work, she was excited.
However, she was shocked to learn her position had been permanently filled by one of her colleagues. When she spoke to one of her bosses, she was advised to take a temporary role as the issue was being resolved.
The only position that was available was a junior one.
It has been a few months since Alice went back to work. Unfortunately, the bosses have gone silent in the matter, and she is still in the junior position –which now seems to be more than a temporary position.
Alice wanted to know how she can get her career back on track.
You too, may in a similar situation. You might be feeling like your career is not where it should be, or where you had earlier projected.
Related Read>>> 6 Signs That Your Career Has Stagnated
A popular reason why your career may have taken a hit is you took some time off and when you came back, you had to start at a different level than you had thought.
Some of the reasons why you might take a break from your job include;
- Being sick or unwell for a considerable amount of time
- Taking maternity leave to nurse a young one
- Coming back to employment from a period of running your business
- Being unemployed for a long time
- Taking a break to study
Irrespective of the reason you took a break from your job, your career could still suffer. When you come back, you will find a lot had evolved, and since you were not around, it may feel like you were left behind.
Question is, how do you catch up with everyone else, and get your career back to where it should be?
Here are three practical tactics that will get your career back on track.
1. Upgrade your skills
Whenever you take a break from your career, when you come back, there are skills that you will need to thrive.
For instance, you can’t equate the skills you needed 10 years ago, to the ones being used in the market today. Almost every industry has embraced the use of technology and the internet.
If you are an accountant, for example, ten years ago, there was only a handful of accounting software. Today, however, there is numerous accounting software. Some relevant platforms, such as iTax, were only invented a few years back.
If you had left an accounting job three years ago, when you come back, you will have to familiarize yourself with filing taxes on the iTax platform.
The same applies to any profession.
To get your career back on track, you’ll have to learn the skills –both practical and soft ones. Once you have these skills, you’ll be able to understand the evolved job market, as well as be in apposition to take up current tasks and execute them efficiently.
2. Engage your networks
While having a career coaching session with Alice, she wanted to know if there’s anything the networks she had formed help her with.
Creating networks amongst professionals is crucial to your success. Other professionals play an important role in how your career shapes up.
A few years ago, I met with a job seeker. He had just come back from working abroad. He had worked for over ten years in a foreign nation.
When it came to the Kenyan job market, he found it hard to navigate. Despite his qualifications and working experience, he could not get a job.
This just goes to show the importance of forming networks.
Professional networks are important in several ways. For starters, they will inform you when a position fitting your qualifications opens up. This will give you an early chance of applying for the position before other job seekers get to hear about the position.
Also Read>>> How Does One Get A High Paying Job?
Moreover, your networks also have important knowledge about the job market. If there are any certifications you need, they’ll be the first to tell you. Essentially, they are a hub of information you can learn from and use to grow your career.
Additionally, since your professional networks already have a relationship with you, they’ll be more proactive in engaging with you. For example, if there is a networking event that could benefit you, they’ll let you know.
Whether you are actively looking for a job, or have been out of the market and would now like to come back, building your network of professionals will be an integral part of your growth and success.
3. Take up more responsibilities
When you come back from a lengthy break, your bosses will be cautious of giving you responsibilities. The general reason could be they are not fully confident of your capabilities of handling the tasks.
As stated earlier, the skills needed to excel in a profession keep changing. Your supervisor may feel you don’t have the right skills to deal with the tasks.
What can you do? For a start, begin with upgrading your skills. Once you’re efficient in the skills needed, you can then approach your supervisor for more responsibilities.
When you take the initiative to ask for more responsibility, your boss will see you’re dedicated and willing to grow your career.
When you can handle more responsibilities, this will put you on track to regaining your career – and advancing it even further.
For instance, after we spoke with Alice, she asked for more responsibilities. While her boss was reluctant at first, he did eventually add her duties. It has been two weeks since we last spoke, and Alice says her bosses are pleased with the work that she doing.
As of now, Alice’s position has not changed. However, if she keeps up with the above strategies, she’ll be sure to rocket back to the customer service executive –or even a higher position.
In summary, it is important to stay on track with your career. If you’re in a position where you feel your career is not where it should be, these strategies will help you. However, remember you need to be intent and practical. Every day, you need to evaluate where you are, where you’d like to be and what you’re doing to get there.
What other effective ways do you know that can get your career back on track?