Career Success in 2019: Principles for Success

Part 4 of 4 in a special series of SHRM’s ‘Your Career Q&A’ columns

By Martin Yate January 29, 2019
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Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column.

Over the past three weeks, we've talked about how to turn your New Year's resolutions into reality and how to think about and implement a more businesslike approach to managing your career. I also gave you two tricks—to steal time and save money—to invest in your career development.

While you work to achieve the future you want, you also have to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head. Here's how to thrive now as you quietly pursue your personal goals.

Start by Taking Strong Defensive Action

The first order of business is to protect the job you have.

Basically, your job exists to help your employer make money. Your key duties are to anticipate, identify, prevent and solve the problems within your area of responsibility that get in the way of your organization's profitability. This concept applies to every job, at every level, in every profession around the world.

As you begin seeing yourself as a problem-solver within an area of expertise, engage in your work with these priorities in mind:

  • Execute your responsibilities to the very best of your ability. Keep your skills up-to-date, and treat your colleagues with respect and goodwill.  
  • Anticipate, identify and reduce the problems that you commonly see, and address those that occur in a professional and timely manner.
  • Learn something from the problems you handle, and add that knowledge to your expertise, thereby increasing your job security. Your expanding knowledge can also increase your frame of reference for handling other problems in other contexts.

Get Connected to the Most Respected in Your Field

Getting to know and being known by the best people in your profession is both good defensive strategy—we're defined by the company we keep—and one of the strongest offensive tactics you can have at your disposal.

Networking with peers in your profession increases your credibility, visibility and even stability. When you join a professional association and become involved, you get to know and become known by committed and well-connected professionals and colleagues in your area. Likewise, social networking through professional groups on LinkedIn allows you to connect with a large community of like-minded professionals, locally and around the world. The contacts you make through association membership and professional social media groups:

  • Help you grow professionally.
  • Boost your reputation.
  • Open doors of opportunity.
  • Provide connections for a strategic career move.
  • Deliver a profession-relevant network that can help you when the unexpected happens.

In the United States, workers change jobs about every four years. These moves could involve distinct career changes, making the ability to effectively search for a job and manage your career matters of ongoing importance. Of all the career-related resources you need to get through tough times, your professional connections and the networking they enable are among the most important assets you can have for financial stability.

Successful career navigation is a skill that can boost your general happiness, and it deserves your attention. Reread these last four columns to learn how to hone that skill.

Was this article useful? SHRM offers thousands of tools, templates and other exclusive member benefits, including compliance updates, sample policies, HR expert advice, education discounts, a growing online member community and much more. Join/Renew Now and let SHRM help you work smarter. 

Packed with practical, honest, real-world guidance for successfully navigating common HR career challenges, Martin Yate's new book The HR Career Guide: Great Answers to Tough Career Questions is available at the SHRMStore. Order your copy today!

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