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October 20, 2016
Want to Improve Your Career? Know What You Don't Want
 
If you’re like most people, your career isn’t where you want it to be. The number one reason people leave a job is a lack of growth and opportunity. If you’re feeling despondent about your career, lack of growth probably tops the reason list for why. Before you decide to bail on your present job, construct a plan for going forward that improves your situation.
 
1. Take a look in the mirror. Your problem may be you. If your work peers are getting better opportunities, your lack of growth may be due to not delivering well on your current responsibilities. Ask coworkers you trust how they have succeeded. Ask for a critique of your performance in that regard. 
 
2. Talk to your boss. The way to approach a discussion with your boss about what you want is to offer something beneficial to your company. Perhaps it’s working on a new business effort or improving the company’s marketing. Come up with a few ideas and bring them to the meeting. Your boss will appreciate the attitude. If he or she doesn’t, go to the next step.
 
3. Figure out what you want before you make a move. The first thing a lot of people I coach say is, “Get me out of here.” I remind them that leaving a job isn’t an assurance of getting what you need from the next one. First, prepare a career analysis. You wouldn’t sail around the world without a compass. Why try to navigate your career without a destination in mind? An assessment of goals allows you to prepare productively and get the job you need to succeed.
 
4. Be ready to move before you do. You may not be as attractive to your ideal employer as you need to be. Quality companies hire people that will make them better. If you can’t demonstrate that ability, you won’t get in the door. A current or past employee of your targeted company can give you insight as well. An honest critique of your current portfolio is also invaluable. You want that critique by someone who has succeeded at what you want to do. They also need to be willing to deliver bad news. Make it clear that you are prepared for a critical analysis of your work.
 
Want the career of your dreams? Figure out what you want. Determine your options. Get some help. Do the work. Before you know it, you’ll be doing the best work of your career. You will be smiling a bit more, as well.

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Bart Cleveland spent over 30 years helping grow brands like Coca-Cola, The Ritz-Carlton, and CNN. Now, he guides creative professionals to plan and execute successful careers through his business, Job Propulsion Lab℠. He also helps both agencies and marketers nurture customers into advocates through a relationship development program he calls, ACES℠. 
 
Bart launched Ad Age’s most popular blog, Small Agency Diary. He is also a contributing author of the book, The Get A Job Workshop, How To Find Your Way To A Creative Career In Advertising.

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