3 Ways to Guarantee Long-Term Career Success
Building a career isn’t easy. In fact, it’s one of the top ten most stressful events we go through in our lives. But throw a specialised sector like non-profit into the mix, and there’s a whole new set of challenges you need to embrace in order to succeed.
Between identifying opportunities for advancement, networking to stay in the know and honing your skill set, there isn’t all that much time to step back and identify the ways you could be positioning yourself for long-term success.
Fortunately, there are some tried-and-true methods that can make all the difference in the world. Here are three of the most important strategies that can help you succeed in your non-profit career.
1. Don’t be afraid to embrace your weaknesses
Although it sounds obvious, you’d be surprised at how many people have difficulty identifying and admitting to the things they need to work on. We celebrate our successes, but how often do we take a closer look at the things that are holding us back? Maybe your written communication is top notch, but your people skills could do with a bit of polishing. Or maybe you’re a bit timid when it comes to leading a project or fundraising event. It’s important to know what skills are necessary to progress in your career, which is why the first step is to honestly evaluate yourself to figure out where your weaknesses lie.
Set aside some time to consider your current position – what are you good at and where do you struggle? Then create a document that outlines your strengths and your weaknesses, highlighting the areas that you plan to work on (and how long it will take to tackle those deficiencies). The document will serve as the blueprint for your future efforts, reminding you to stay on course all while helping you track your progress.
If you find that your current skills aren’t a great match for your existing position, use what you’ve learned as a guide to help you identify other non-profit organisations that could be a better fit. Who knows, maybe there’s a totally new career route out there you hadn’t even considered.
2. Always create clear boundaries between life and work
The next step in building a successful non-profit career is to set career boundaries early on. Believe it or not, the most successful people recognise that there is more to life than work, and studies have shown that happy employees are more productive. In fact, many people shift into the charity sector because of the flexibility it provides in terms of working hours and remote working options.
That means it’s critical to establish a healthy work/life balance if you plan to be at your best while you’re on the job. Doing so will help you to stay healthy and stress-free, and ensure you’re ready to tackle whatever challenges your job has to throw at you. Being in the right frame of mind will help you to establish a track record of professional success that will do more than almost anything else to propel your career onward and upward.
3. Remember: complimentary skills are key
Many will make the case that striving to be the best in your specific area of expertise is the way to rise to the top of the ranks in any industry. But there’s a problem with that: only one person can be the best, so what is everyone else supposed to do?
The answer is simple. Differentiate yourself by building complimentary skills that the competition lacks. Now we’re not saying you shouldn’t try to be the best, we just want you to be realistic in your goals. You should still strive for greatness, but don’t get bogged down worrying about how you compare to your colleagues. Experts call this ‘non-linear development‘, because it is a way of advancing your existing skills by working on other, tangentially-related skills.
In the non-profit world, non-linear development is essential because of the sheer number of cross-functional positions within the industry. The good news is that there are now courses online to help people build new complementary skills without the need for massive time or financial commitments, so this is a strategy that’s easier to execute today than it’s ever been.
If you put the three strategies into action, you should end up with a roadmap to career advancement in the non-profit sector that you can execute while still maintaining your sanity. Through it all, you will also be growing, both as a professional and as an individual, which is the real secret to achieving true long-term success. As long as you commit to the process, there’s no limit to how far your own drive and initiative can take you – so keep at it until you are where you want to be!