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3 Ways to Work Toward the Career You Want

Think your next job is among the millions posted on job boards? You may be more likely to discover it by making some changes in the way you view work, careers, and advancement.

Your dream job could be among the record 7.3 million job openings posted around the country. However, if you depend solely on search engines and algorithms to find it, you might be disappointed.

The problem is in the semantics: Your ideal career path may not fall neatly into a particular position title or category. It may not even exist — yet. Therefore, although sites like Indeed and LinkedIn overflow with opportunities, you need to look beyond internet job boards and come up with ways to position yourself to take a quantum career leap.

Even more importantly, you need to believe wholeheartedly that you deserve to take a new direction, or you might never move past the “wanting” to the “having” stage.

Yes, you can do it.

Whether you want to advance at your current employer, branch out to a competitor, or pursue a different industry entirely, your biggest hurdles are your brain and attitude. If you sift through hundreds of online job descriptions every night but never apply because you do not meet all the criteria, you will stall your efforts.

Living your best career life takes a willingness to go beyond seeing a door as locked to believing it might be slightly ajar. All you have to do is test it. For instance, though you may not have every specified degree or experience for an advertised opening, you may have culled similar skills and expertise from your years in business. Your ability to think more creatively about how to sell yourself on paper and during interviews will help land you roles.

Think maintaining a relentlessly optimistic view is unlikely? Keep in mind that plenty of people like you have carved out opportunities for themselves despite not having a phenomenal résumé. They recognize their worth, and they pursue their desires by harnessing the talents they have.

If you want to move your career forward, reimagine the process ahead of you using the following strategies.

1. Conquer a smaller pond.

Getting trampled in the rat race at your big-city job? You may find both mental relief and better job advancement possibilities in smaller markets. Mid-sized locales offer a less frenzied pace while still offering up exciting career choices and diversions alike.

Case in point: When Alex Haimann, now head of business development and partner at Less Annoying CRM, moved to St. Louis, he discovered a welcoming pool. “In addition to the huge costs associated with living in big cities — which make buying a home and growing your savings nearly impossible, especially for Millennials and Gen Zers — building a professional and personal network is tricky,” he observed. “In St. Louis, I’ve been able to engage with others in a far more authentic way than I did in any setting in D.C. — and as a result, each of the two jobs I’ve had since moving here have come from networking locally.”

2. Embrace fear as a motivator.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest person elected to Congress in U.S. history, said on Instagram, “Without fear, we don’t have the opportunity to prove ourselves in ways we never thought possible.” Her honesty not only resonated with people around the country, but also proved that fear and success aren’t mutually exclusive.

As you consider your next career move, you will no doubt feel many emotions — fear among them. Yet fear can help you push ahead and prepare for an upcoming interview, a meeting to discuss a raise, or a big project request. When you are afraid to do something, pause a moment and figure out why your request or pursuit is indeed valid. What would make you good for this job? Why do you deserve a raise? Why are you the right person to lead that project? Make your answer part of your pitch. Often, taking a few steps forward will temper your anxiety and allow you to make inroads.

3. Boost your career currency.

Reject the notion that the only way to look good to an employer is by moving up the corporate ladder, regardless of how you feel about managing others. You would be better off increasing your career currency by becoming an expert in what you do well — or what you want to do better.

Take time to attend trainings, earn relevant certifications, and meet others in your field. Becoming a thought leader can have profound ripple effects. People will begin to see you as the source of knowledge on specific topics, giving you more clout in your industry. You can then use your enhanced reputation as a springboard to help you uncover potential jobs, potentially before they are announced.

Deciding to take better control of your career can be overwhelming and scary. It can also be exhilarating and rewarding. Allow yourself to envision a future life that includes all the work-related responsibilities you want to tackle. Then, begin channeling your uncertainty into motivation and bringing your dreams to fruition.

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