Take Control of Your Career

Your happiness is up to you. You need to determine what will make you happy and then work to achieve it.

Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve — Napoleon Hill

I’m not a coach of any kind (career, life, athletic, etc.). What I can offer you is some advice based on personal experience if your happiness relies on advancing your career, changing careers, or even securing a career in the technical writing or instructional design industry (though most of this can be applied to other industries).

  1. Set your goals and determine the steps required to get there. This will be your road map to achieving what you want. Make sure you set SMART goals. You should know what I mean by that, but if you don’t, look it up because the next thing you should do is:
  2. Constantly learn. It is important to stay relevant by keeping up with innovations and trends. The world is changing fast so keep up. As my company’s mission states: Excel Now. Embrace the Future. Learn Always. Learning can take many forms – reading books and blogs, attending lectures and networking events, downloading free software to test or completing tutorials. Do not expect to be hand fed information and training. Employers can’t provide you with everything you need to know to get a better position or change careers. You have to do some work yourself.
  3. When meeting with a potential employer about a job or your boss about a promotion, have recent samples available that showcase your writing and development skills. I don’t want to hear the excuse that you can’t show samples because everything you have ever written or developed is proprietary. Be responsible! You know people want you to prove that you can do the work, so show them. Before you start thinking about leaving me nasty comments, I’m not suggesting that you break confidentiality agreements with employers or clients. What I am suggesting is that you do work on your personal time to create samples. Demonstrate that you are serious about your career, that you take initiative, and the you are creative. The samples do not have to be elaborate. They just need to demonstrate your capabilities. For example:
    1. Write a brief User Manual for using the toaster (remember the safety warnings).
    2. Create an elearning course demonstrating how to send an email.
    3. Develop a creative, new activity for classroom training (not Jeopardy).

What are other ways you can suggest for people to take control of their careers?