Career development is all about improving the direction and success of your professional life. Unfortunately, many women find themselves stuck in dead-end jobs or advancing in careers they don’t enjoy. Whether you’re going after that big promotion or hoping to stray from your current path and pursue something better, here are some effective ways you can bring change to your professional life.
Start Your Own Business
According to Inc., there are 114% more women-owned businesses in the United States today than there were 20 years ago. Women and men alike enjoy the flexibility and autonomy that comes with entrepreneurship, but this career path can be just as challenging—and often more so—than working for someone else.
Getting a successful business off the ground takes some smart planning. Do plenty of market research before moving forward with your business idea to ensure you’ll be able to acquire customers and make sales. It’s also important to develop a website for drawing in customers and marketing your business—whether or not you’re selling products online. Be sure to choose a hosting company that offers reliable up-time and security features. Look for affordable shared hosting and WordPress hosting plans, which are perfect for new entrepreneurs. As your business expands, you can upgrade your plan to faster cloud hosting or dedicated servers.
Likewise, you should make smart decisions when it comes to creating your office. Working from home offers the flexibility to choose your own working hours, but you need to have an office set up in a place that’s free from distractions for better productivity. An attic or basement can be ideal for your home office, though if you have a child, you’ll want to work in closer proximity to keep an eye on them. Wherever you decide to work, try to keep the office as professional as possible, and choose ergonomic equipment to promote better posture and reduce stress.
Spend Free Time Pursuing Your Passion
Don’t feel confined to careers in your area of education. If you’re attracted to a career in another field, consider taking online classes or attending night school while you continue working your day job. Before spending money and time on education, ensure you actually need it. Forbes recommends creating a roadmap to your dream job to determine exactly what you need to do to get there.
To gain experience in this new industry, consider volunteering on your off time. Nonprofit organizations are always looking for help! Alternatively, you could ask around your social circles to discover volunteer opportunities in your field of interest. You may even be able to find similar career paths that draw on your existing education and experience. For example, if you’re a lawyer and you want to get into journalism, consider legal journalism. Importantly, make sure you’re switching into a career that you actually enjoy, not just one that you hate less than your current path.
Take Advice from Powerful Female Leaders
Many women enjoy their current career path, but would be happier at a higher position. If that’s you, take some advice from female CEOs who have found success through negotiating, networking, and demonstrating mastery in their positions. Good networking will uncover unique opportunities for career advancement in your field. You can forge genuine connections with people by attending industry events, conventions, and meetings—consider attending these events alone so you’re forced to push through feelings of discomfort and introduce yourself to people.
Asking for the Money you Deserve
Although asking for more money is uncomfortable, it’s important that you receive the compensation you deserve for your hard work. Before asking for a raise, do your research. Keep track of your success over time so that you can point to specific numbers and data that illustrate how you’ve gone above and beyond in your role. Be confident when you present your argument. Explain to your employer why you deserve a raise rather than telling them why you need one. For example, you may point out that you’ve acquired major customers or improved the company’s bottom line.
Career growth means something different to everyone. For some, it means advancing in their current field. For others, it means starting their own business. Whatever your goals, planning out your path to success will help you get there. Just remember to have confidence in yourself!
By Gloria Martinez
Gloria is with WomenLed.org which aims to celebrate women’s achievements in the workplace and is dedicated to increasing the number of women-led corporations, organizations, and small businesses by educating others about women-led achievements.