career building post-pandemic

The world is changing rapidly today: 2020 has made us sit up, and the approach to career-building is not what we used to have.

While artificial intelligence changes recruiting strategies and helps employers hire top talents, some candidates still consider a job search for a technical process. They believe it’s enough to write a resume, place it on as many job boards as possible, or come to an interview to get hired.

What are the actual secrets to building a successful career post-pandemic?

Your higher education diploma and hard skills you’ve got in college or at former workplaces are not enough to win the battle for professionalism and high salary. Career building and success are about the close interaction of hard and soft skills and the synergy of knowledge from different fields.

Lifelong learning for successful career building.

In 2021, career and professional growth are about lifelong learning and personal development. But besides continuous training for new knowledge, skills, and habits acquirement, there are three things you’ll need to succeed in career and life:

  • Motivation
  • Competition
  • Networking

The chances are that you’ve heard of these factors and their significance for those striving for career success. However, their role changes and takes on a new meaning in 2021. For yesterday students struggling with time management and startupers relaxing after the first successful investment, it’s time to take a fresh look at your career path.

Motivation is the secret to Career Building

Tons of articles on motivation are online. You know that people need it to learn something, grow their professional skills, do what they need to do, and, after all, be happy. And that is why they all look for a kind of magic button to push and become motivated.

But it doesn’t work that way.

For career success, you need to study all the time. Professional education doesn’t stop once you’ve graduated with a diploma in hands; it continues during your overall career path, and it requires permanent and systematic actions on self-development from you.

Lifelong learning is in most educational and professional training programs today, and an employee needs to be in constant search of motivation to develop their professional skills again and again. In other words, you won’t succeed if you don’t have a habit of studying.

But how to motivate yourself to keep on learning for career success?

Understand the secret of motivation and how it works for you.

Do tons of motivational posters on your wall help you get off a chair and start doing anything? And what about dozens of motivational quotes you read every day? Do they help to get the job of your dreams or reach a goal you set last year?

That’s because motivation comes in waves. One day you wake up inspired and ready to take on the world. You decide to start a new project, come up with its logo design, win a mountain top, make money traveling, and finally get that damned driving license.

But then, a new day comes. You wake up and — nothing. You don’t want anything. You take a cup of coffee, stay in bed, and scroll your Facebook feed or watch Netflix for hours.

Why? Because there’s no such thing as motivation alone. It doesn’t work that way. If you sit and wait for inspiration to come, you’ll fail. What you need to do instead is set up systems with clear goals.

Set SMART goals

Define what it means for you to succeed; therefore, you’ll understand what actions and steps to take for that. Fear of failure, desire to earn more, or fear of missing deadlines, and getting a boss angry are all about your extrinsic motivation.

Letting fear and anxiety overrun you won’t help you succeed. What you need is intrinsic motivation — your engagement with work and your interest in overall project success.

Intrinsic motivation helps you stay interested in work and self-growth even if you don’t get money. And SMART goals enable you to understand why you keep on working and why you want to succeed.

Studies prove: we need goals to keep on acting and feel proud and happy about what we do. And once you feel proud of your work, motivation won’t take long in coming. Right now, with COVID — the goal of feeling proud of what you are doing and accomplishing may be more difficult to attain — but you can find the motivation.

Another trick to try for better motivation: tell or write to others about your goals. According to psychology professor Gail Matthews, it will help you achieve them faster because of your better commitment to goal-directed actions and your accountability for them.

Reframe your success mindset

Professor of Psychology at Stanford University Carol Dweck insists that our motivation and desire to grow — depend on our mindset. In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she describes how conscious and unconscious thoughts affect us and our ability to improve. Carol speaks about two mindsets:

  • Fixed mindset — when a person believes their intelligence is static.
  • Growth mindset — when a person believes their intelligence and skills can be developed.

Depending on what mindset you have, it will impact your self-regulation, achievements, and interpersonal processes. Dr. Dweck and her colleagues’ research isn’t new, but it has changed the approach to education and overall success back then.

Those with fixed mindsets avoid challenges, give up easily, ignore negative feedback, and feel threatened by others’ success. As a result, they achieve less than they could.

By contrast, those with growth mindsets embrace challenges and learn from criticism to become more professional. They find inspiration in the success of others, they are open to new things, and as a result, they reach higher levels of achievement.

People with growth mindsets are more successful. So if you feel that you have a fixed mindset, it’s high time to start reframing it for a better career building and life in 2021.

Competition for Career Building

It’s still debatable whether competition helps or hurts your career. Some specialists believe that competition can grow a toxic environment in the company. There’s no need to tar all employees with one brush — is it more efficient to let everyone work their way and speed?

Competition in the workplace is not about cold-eye races for better results. When done right and played fair, it can enhance your career path and help you grow.

Competition boosts your creative thinking

Understanding that someone can overtake you at any turn, you become more self-demanding and start thinking of alternative ways to improve your skills.

Greg Clydesdale analyzed this phenomenon back in 2006, representing The Beatles’ enormous success as the result of constant competition between Lennon and McCartney. They were two dominant forces in one team, encouraging the band to develop more and more creative decisions to sound better for even higher heights.

Competition makes you more productive

As Jason Corsello and Dylan Minor nailed in their article at HBR, everything you need to do for better productivity at work is to sit next to someone productive. That’s how competition works: looking at someone successful and efficient, you’ll strive for better personal results.

So when you pair with people who have strengths that are opposite to yours, it can encourage you to improve your own skills and productivity. But, at the same time, make sure you separate yourself from toxic coworkers demotivating you or influencing your workflow negatively.

Competition helps you learn faster

To increase your performance at work, employers often organize e-learning courses and different training programs. Love it or hate it, but they can influence your ability to learn new things faster, adapt to new tasks and duties better, and therefore build your career more successfully.

However, they’ll only work when you learn and train in groups, with other colleagues, and homework to complete and submit for a trainer’s review. You compete with other learners through this process, motivating yourself to try harder for better results.

More than that, if you know the test or exam results of other learners and see they are higher than yours, it motivates you to work better and, again, try harder to “beat” them.

Networking for Career Building

Okay, you know that networking is about interacting with professional contacts in your niche, therefore getting new business clients, building your status, and increasing your confidence and interpersonal skills. But what about networking as a strategy to build a career? Can it help you here?

Yes, it can. In 2021, make sure you understand how proper networking can influence your professional growth and benefit your career. As far as you know, it goes far beyond having 500+ contacts on LinkedIn or your boss liking your new status on Facebook.

Networking fuels your self-identity

It just happens so that people define themselves by belonging to a particular group. It’s our psychology and human nature. For example, you’ve launched a blog this year: so you define yourself as a blogger now. Or, you’ve joined the marketing department in a company, and you are responsible for market segmentation or link building now: so you identify yourself as a marketer.

In other words, it’s a community around us that helps to define ourselves as professionals of this or that sphere. Understanding who you are and knowing that you are not alone makes you more self-confident, creating and growing your professional self this way.

Your network, aka the surrounding community, fuels your self-identification and confidence. It gives you the motivation to succeed and helps to set goals on your way to success.

Networking provides you with new career opportunities

Networking is not only about short-term relations with other people from your professional field. It’s your behavior to build and maintain long-term relations that may lead to a mutually beneficial exchange in the future. And one of those benefits is your access to new resources, learning opportunities, and career growth.

Networking with colleagues and like-minded people creates relationships that are often stronger than romantic ones. Purdue University’s research shows that professional networks are maintained for many years, enriching all participants both professionally and emotionally.

Also, networking provides you with social support. It’s a great way to establish yourself as an expert in the field so others would recommend you or ask you for help when it comes to business.

Networking gives you new business ideas

Communicating with people who work in different fields can help you get new perspectives and ideas on building your career or finding alternative approaches. It’s not about plagiarizing business ideas or plans from others; it’s about inspiration and motivation for self-development others can give you.

The point is to build trustworthy relationships and a supportive network that can help you throughout your career. People from your network can assist you or advise about any particular problem at work or your professional growth. You may find a mentor who will inspire you to a new career move or assist with your next project planning or implementation.

Your network can highlight your professional weaknesses and strengths, so you will know what steps to take and what skills to develop for positive changes.

Long story short, your network is a resource to use for career success. Learning from their achievements and failures, you’ll be able to plan your career path more carefully and wisely. But remember that professional networking is about helping each other: you can’t just take; you should also give. It’s the law of reciprocity, and it’s the only way to succeed.

It’s the rule we all know: the more you give, the more you get.

Conclusion

When thinking of career-building, you hardly consider the above three components as must-haves for success. However, they are pillars allowing you to grow as a professional in your field.

In 2021, a career is not about hard skills and working 9-to-5. It’s about emotional intelligence, communication, and learning all the time. The world changes, and we all need to keep pace with it if we want to succeed in work and life.

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Lesley Vos is a professional web writer and content strategist. Currently blogging at Bid4Papers, a service that helps students deal with college life.

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