In today’s digital world, the workplace is advancing with technology and artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML). As a result, we must evolve in the workplace faster and more creatively than ever before. As younger generations begin entering the workforce, there are many things to consider when it comes to career planning and advancement. The same goes for young sales professionals.
As part of a sales organization, you’ll have peers, managers, and executive leaders that can offer advice and provide guidance in your field. To help you get a head start, we’ve put together five professional career tips to transform your career planning and make you stand out from the crowd.
1. Continue Learning
First, having a solid educational foundation with an undergraduate and graduate degree is key, but you should not stop there. Young professionals should continuously look for new educational opportunities to stay up-to-date with the latest knowledge and trends in their field.
This includes taking courses, attending seminars, reading the latest business books and publications, etc. to develop new skills for the career advancement plan you’ve created. That way, when an opportunity presented itself, you are prepared to take on a higher level of responsibility.
2. Network/Find a Mentor/Strive to be a Mentor
Early in your career, it’s important to find leaders in your field that can provide guidance and be a resource of industry knowledge. Mentors can help young professionals learn a great deal from their career experience that can’t necessarily be learned from books and courses.
Mentors, while commonly a manager or superior at your workplace, can also be found outside the office. If you have the opportunity, consider reaching out to executives in your workplace–if not for a mentorship, it is a great networking opportunity (Read about our executives’ leadership journeys here).
For example, by volunteering for roles in non-profit organizations or committees, young professionals can network outside of their job. Later in your career, you can then look for opportunities to pay-it-forward by being a mentor to young people who are starting out in their careers.
3. Have a Proactive Attitude and Strong Work Ethic
First and foremost, put in 100 percent effort to make sure you meet and/or exceeded your job responsibilities, and look for ways to contribute more than what is expected in your current role. In sales, reps are motivated with incentives like commissions and team outings, but not every job is based this way.
Regardless, you should always be on the hunt for process improvements as well as ways to improve the job you’re doing and present those ideas to your managers. A good mantra to have is to always leave your job in a better position than when you arrived. You want to be able to look back and know you learned something and made a positive contribution.
4. Do Work You Love
Many people learn early on in their careers that their best work came when they're in the “flow.” Hours can fly by because you are excited and passionate about what you are doing and the possibilities of what is ahead.
However, it's also important to realize that you might sometimes need to put time into positions that may not be your "ideal job" or work that you love, but they are important stepping stone experiences to round out your career skills. At the same time, always be sure to take time needed for yourself to avoid burnout.
5. Take Smart Risks
Fear can have a big impact on decisions and how many young professionals choose to pursue their career advancement. Pushing through any internal fears and taking (smart) risks that otherwise would stop you from experimenting or putting yourself on the line is necessary to advance your career. In fact, Xactly CFO Elizabeth Salomon said without taking risks, her career wouldn't be where it is today (read more of Elizabeth's career story here).
You should always look for opportunities for public speaking, teaching courses, presenting ideas to improve yourself and the company you work for by volunteering for new projects, or simply speaking up in meetings. Do anything and everything that will push you out of your comfort zone and help you become better not only in your career, but as a person.
With the guidance of mentors and peers and a drive to advance your career, you’re setting yourself up for success. Of course, no two career paths are identical, but it never helps to prepare yourself to encounter new experiences and become a successful you!