5 Small Career Moves That Can Make a Big Difference

If you want to move forward in your career, you’ll have to take an active role in getting to where you want to be. Generally, opportunities won’t just be handed to you (unless you know someone). You’ll have to work hard to advance, but the good news is, it doesn’t always require big steps for you to arrive at your desired career destination. Sometimes it’s the small, deliberate steps that propel you forward. It’s import to pay attention not only to practical steps like sharpening your career skills but also working on your soft skills, like how to interact with the people you encounter throughout your work day. Here are five small career moves that can make a big difference.

1. Form a “work squad”

group of workers sitting together at a meeting

Group of co-workers | iStock.com

If you don’t talk to anyone at work, you may want to start. It helps to have a few colleagues on your side. This is especially true when it comes to meetings. Have you ever had moments in a work meeting where you offer a suggestion and you either get shot down or ignored completely? Then someone else suggests the exact same idea and all of a sudden it’s the best idea anyone has ever heard? One way you can hedge against this is by having a group of colleagues at your job who are in your corner and who will fight for you when the going gets tough at work. Ideally, you’ll want one of these people to be your manger. This way, when you present an idea during a meeting, your work squad can back you up and support your idea so that it doesn’t get stolen or passed over.

2. Leave your desk

man working on laptop on office desk

Working at a desk | iStock.com

Don’t overlook the impact of engaging with your network. Taking time out of your day to get to know your colleagues and acquaintances better could help move your career forward. Remember that anyone could be laid off or fired at a moment’s notice. You never know when or where a new job opportunity will present itself. This is why it’s important to regularly stay in touch with your professional network. Too busy? With resources like LinkedIn, you have no excuse. It also doesn’t take a lot of time to grab a quick coffee or a bite to eat with a co-worker. Also make use of informational interviews. This is a great way to connect with a professional who works in an industry or career you’re interested in.

3. Talk to people you wouldn’t normally socialize with

success

Good office relationships are the key to success | iStock.com

If you’ve perfected the art of networking and you’ve formed your work squad, good for you. However, there’s one thing you’re likely missing. Have you talked to the cleaning staff lately? Do you greet the building’s security or the office receptionist? Don’t just talk to people you’re comfortable with or those who can get you a promotion. Be friendly to everyone. Without support staff, your office wouldn’t run as smoothly. They are an integral part of your work environment and should not be ignored. Besides, you don’t know everyone’s story. You can’t really judge someone’s level of education by their current job. People who are in a transition phase take lower-level jobs all the time.  A few years from now that custodian or receptionist could become your co-worker — or your manager. Engage with staff and co-workers who are on the lower rungs of the career ladder (or not even on the ladder at all). If you were mean when they weren’t on your radar, it’s likely they won’t forget when you’re working together.

4. Read a book

collection of books

Books | iStock.com/ConstantinosZ

Getting too comfortable at your current job is a big mistake. Always make room for career development whenever you can. One good way to do this is by reading a good career book. There is some really good information out there written by top career experts. If you hate to read, get an audio book. You’ll finish the book faster and be more likely to remember what you heard. You can listen on your way to work or during your lunch break.  

5. Regularly update your resume

man holding resume

Resume | iStock.com

The resume that got you the job won’t necessarily get you your next one. Always make updates to your resume as you acquire more skills. This way, once it’s time to apply for jobs, you won’t have to scramble to add details or remember past accomplishments. If you forget something, you can always mention it during your interview, but it’s best to get everything down on your resume the first time.

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