5 steps to take control of your career

8 min read

By: Sarah Danzl, Global Communications Director at Degreed

  • Accept imperfect opportunities.
  • Keep learning and developing your skills.
  • Create “your personal brand”.
  • Create a network of people.
  • Be realistic, patient, and persistent.
5 steps to take control of your career
5 steps to take control of your career

Building a career is a difficult task. The ups and downs are inevitable as they are influenced by the economy, employers, and the decisions we make along the way. We cannot control the economy, and while it can be influenced, it is not always possible. What is in your control are your own decisions.

By making conscious and thoughtful decisions, you can (and should) take your own career into your own hands in the most sensible and effective way. When you do this, you are more likely to be in control of your own future. To do this, you need to focus on five aspects:

Think long-term: accept imperfect opportunities

Like most, I have had multiple employers and have worked in different positions. I love my current job, but finding and landing that dream job didn’t just happen. For one thing, I had to envision a role like this long before I thought it was achievable.


At the beginning of my career I had the dilemma of what I was feeling. At that moment it was a big change in my career. I was working in marketing for a nonprofit that I really believed in and had a manager who took a risk on me. The opportunity was in a new area at a lower level in the corporate sector.

But then something happened that put my dilemma in context that immediately clarified everything to me. My dad asked me how the job I was thinking about would add to my ability to land my next one Work and finally “the job of my dreams”. I rightly began to view good but imperfect opportunities as valuable stepping stones.

Keep learning and developing skills – encourage progress

Developing your knowledge is one of the greatest keys to success. Not only is it smart, it is necessary. Good or bad, the skills we learn in school or at the beginning of our careers often lose their importance within a few years.

The good news is, regardless of your career goals, it’s easier than ever to keep up with the skills you need to be successful. More and more employers are offering their employees learning opportunities on-line. Outside of work, the same types of study content are available on the Internet, and much of it is free. Identify the skills you have and need, then dive into them!

And remember, it’s one thing to explore new skills, it’s another to really learn them and incorporate them into your daily activities. To get really proficient, you need to apply new skills in the real world. You can do this by taking on new projects, volunteering in your community, and counseling or teaching other people interested in acquiring the same skills. And if your employer offers you these or other development opportunities, do not hesitate to get in touch and take advantage of them.

Every step of learning and development prepares you for your next big career move. Always be open and willing to take risks.

Control Your Social Behavior: Create “Your Personal Brand”

The way you present yourself professionally is very personal. It can also depend a lot on your job. Regardless of what image you are presenting, you will find yourself creating a personal brand that shows potential employers your worth.

I think it’s always best to be in control of your image, and there are two main ways you can do it. First, refine your presence on social media. It can be tempting to think of certain types of social media, such as: Facebook, as a place to spread out with your friends and family. So keep in mind that no one will ever realize that that secret, random name on Twitter is actually your username.

The reality is this: Chances are, a potential employer is trying to see what you’ve posted. Choose pictures and words that match your professional goals. If you insist on posting malicious content, make sure that your settings are secure and that your accounts have the most privacy possible. Remember, there is no guarantee that this will save you.

LinkedIn is a different story. Its main purpose is to act as a professional network. So there really is no excuse to go the extra mile and post content outside of what is acceptable in your chosen industry. LinkedIn may also be the best place to start your professional brand. on-line and you can do it in different ways. First, post a profile picture and keep your profile up to date. Users who have a profile photo on LinkedIn can receive up to 21 times more views than users who don’t. And profile pages with a compelling title and summary can strengthen your personal brand and help you make a great first impression.

Your brand also exists offline in the way you interact with your colleagues and managers. He is characterized by reliability, friendliness and a good attitude towards work. Keep what you promise. Go ahead and do key games.

Create a network of people: it’s about making contact

The word “networking” can have a negative connotation when conjuring up images of sycophantic opportunists lurking at professional events trying to get in touch with all the “right” people. Of course, it’s important to meet people who can help you move forward. Networking is much more than just greeting half the world at social events.

Image: Gabriel Benois via Unsplash

Done right, networking is as much about helping others as it is about helping yourself. With more than 700 million members from around the world working in almost every industry imaginable, LinkedIn is a great place to connect with others. It’s worth joining groups on topics that interest you, finding tutors, or just asking expert questions and offering help to others.

You can and should also network at your current workplace. In this way, you can make important contacts with people who can help you with the next steps in your career.

Be realistic, patient, and persistent

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you most likely won’t be vice president in your second job after college. Most likely, you will not receive a millionaire salary within two years of joining a company. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dream big.

And you have to take smart and firm steps towards each goal. Don’t limit yourself, especially when things get difficult. You will receive negative comments. Someone will not like what you wrote or how you presented something. But turn it into an opportunity. Let it sway you for a moment, but then use it as an incentive to keep getting better. Do your best not to take setbacks personally. Looking at rejection constructively can increase your self-esteem.

Don’t feel “too important” for certain tasks. Sometimes you have to work the trenches first to earn the medals. And I would say that it is good for us both physically and mentally. Don’t underestimate you You won’t know what is possible until you try. And when you fail, you don’t feel like it will always be in the future. Keep being positive and learning, never give up.

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