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At the beginning of your career, it can be helpful to narrow down your interest in a way that doesn't close doors but still offer flexibility and opportunity for advancement.
Employers typically look for talent and potential and work with entry-level employees on areas of advancement that matches not only their needs but also what employees may be willing to pursue in their careers. That is why taking a passive attitude in early jobs even for the sake of pleasing the employer can be misleading or, worse, indicative of indifference.
Entry-level employees who are active in pursuing their ambition can be rewarded with great opportunities if they are in the right place. All they want to do is to make sure their goals are realistic and presented to the employer adequately. To do so, they should follow these steps:
If you're not clear about career goals, do research and look into areas that really interest you. Set goals for where you want to be within particular time frames — five years for example.
It is not uncommon to be fascinated with a particular field for status or money, but once you position yourself there, you find that it doesn't agree with you. So be realistic and don't waste an opportunity on a whim.
Of course, you can always change your mind, but try to make the best out of the situation. If you have no clue about what you want to accomplish in the future, talking with a mentor — or even just a more experienced professional in your area of specialisation — can be useful. First, you will be able to get a sense of the pros and cons of different paths. Second, such brainstorming may bring up ideas that you had never thought of.
Find an advocate
If stuck in an entry-level job, you may not be able to have your voice heard higher up in the hierarchy. To be able to move sideways or even up, communicate your career ambition to someone who can help you out. That person can be a supervisor or a veteran co-worker. The support you get can help formulate goals and find areas within the company where you can grow.
Needless to say, this person should be trustworthy and genuinely interested in helping you out. Still, make sure that when you express interest in a different type of work or position, don't come out as complaining or unsatisfied with what you do. Keeping a constructive tone will help this person suggest a realistic timeline and steps to get you want to be.
Get proper education
Many employers realise that fostering talent is the way to go in building and retaining qualified staff. With the economy picking up, more money is funnelled into training and education budgets. If your move to a different domain requires a particular type of certification or additional knowledge, pursue this with the employer.
Your very interest in committing to education should be sufficient proof of your dedication. This is the sort of potential employers typically look for in new hires. Make sure to deliver on the commitments. In other words, take your training seriously and apply it as expected, keeping in mind that is a sort of investment from the employer.
Get experience first
Many entry-level workers get impatient quickly. If you have just a year or two of experience, you may still be holding an unattractive title and less than a desirable salary despite all of your dedication and potential. Giving up a job with an employer who continues to invest in your future to get a slightly better job can be a massive mistake.
In reality, if you stick around you will probably get better money and position in time. But that won't be everything. Along with of this, you will get consistent experience, a more established position and larger commitment.
In short, early on in a career, be diligent and consistent in pursuing what you want to do, seek the proper education to achieve it and actually getting it done. The longer you focus on getting this done, you will be more likely to end up in a better position than if you just settle into a routine and wait.
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Source: Rania Oteify, Special to gulfnews.com
The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor