Tips to Maintaining Your Professional Edge
“Change is inevitable, growth is optional” - John C. Maxwell
In our constantly evolving digital climate, just about every position, in every industry is changing at a rapid pace. It is the nature of the modern workplace. The upward progression of technology has allowed us to connect and work with people all over the world, interacting in ways we never would have thought possible just ten years ago. As technology continues to progress, just about every industry is adapting and changing at rapid speeds.
Change can be intimidating and uncomfortable, however when embraced, it can lead you to opportunities and experiences you never thought possible. One of the biggest challenges we as professionals’ face today is staying relevant and showing your worth. Your ability to adapt to the changes in your industry can lead you to a higher level of success in the end. As John C. Maxwell once said, “Change is inevitable, growth is optional” so make the choice to grow yourself today to prepare for the changes of tomorrow.
Commit to it
Although it seems simple, the first step to maintaining your professional edge is to recognize the importance of, and committing to future growth. If you just maintain the status quo, you may become stagnant within your industry causing you to lose the value you bring to your job. Staying current within your field may require you to change your attitude, your processes, your current skill set, or even the tools you use today to accomplish tasks. To succeed, you must first embrace change and evolve with your industry to move forward in your career.
Once you are ready to commit to improving yourself, the following tips will help you get started in the right direction towards maintaining your professional edge.
Tip 1: Take control of your own education
Just because you graduated, doesn’t mean you should throw in the books and stop learning. A continued dedication to learning new things will help you not only succeed in your career but also in life. It is not always easy, especially if you are not required to learn new things in your current position. However, new skills you obtain can help you complete your current tasks more proficiently. There are many great free resources out there to help you learn new things to further yourself and your career. Take some time to check out the following resources and see if anything sparks an interest:
Check out what Xerox has to offer through Learning@Xerox
Look for free online courses from reputable websites like Alison
Tip 2: Find and follow thought leaders
You can learn a lot from the experiences of others. Thought leaders, also known as industry leaders, are informed opinion leaders whose views on a subject are authoritative and influential. They have had years of hands-on experience within their industry or field, and often pave the way for innovative thinking and future development. To find and follow thought leaders within your industry check out some of the suggested links below and start following them on your favorite social media platform.
Listen to some TED Talks
Check out Time’s Most Influential People of 2018 list
Google “[your industry] thought leaders” for example I Googled “Digital Marketing Thought Leaders”
Tip 3: Join the conversation/network
One of the best ways to demonstrate a continued interest in your industry is to join in the conversation. Find people and groups with an interest in the latest trends in your industry and make a point to engage in these conversations.
Pro tip – make friends and converse with people across generations to widen your perspective of where everyone is at within your industry.
A couple of ways to get started include:
Find and join a LinkedIn Group
Set up Google alerts with relevant key words to your industry
Find and follow blogs and/or podcasts that are reputable and specific to your industry
Join a professional association
Tip 4: Stay ahead of the game by learning new tools
Don’t wait for your company to implement new tools before you learn how to use them. Get familiar with the latest tools and technology in your industry, even before it is part of your day-to-day operations. This way you will be able to help lead innovation within your department and the company by suggesting a better way to optimize time and move things forward. Since software varies widely within different industries and departments, start by doing a little research to find emerging new tools and software applications. If you are a developer, this may mean learning new languages or software platforms. If you are a project manager, however, it may mean looking in to new software tools. Certifications, such as a Green Belt certification for Supply Chain professionals or CAPM for Project Managers, are other ways to show off your skills and stay ahead of the game.
Tip 5: Know your strengths and how to apply them
Do you know what your personal and professional strengths are? Identifying what sets you apart from others is not always easy, however once you recognize your strengths, you can leverage your best qualities towards your future professional development. It is not always enough to simply know your strengths, you must also know how to strategically apply them in your everyday life. The up-coming YP University webinar UnlockIt: The Power of Strengths Use focuses on teaching you how to effectively recognize and apply your strengths in ways that will lead to optimal performance within your personal and professional life.