Top tips to kick-start your career

Woman on a ladder searching

In my last blog I talked about why you should consider a career in finance.

But once you get in, how do you get on? Whichever sector you’re in, if you’re ready for a new challenge at work but don’t know where to start – read on. Here are my top tips to help make your career ambitions a reality.

Networking

Networking is a vital way onto the career ladder. A LinkedIn survey determined that 85 per cent of jobs are filled through networking. Yet it is also crucial for progression. For some people, waiting for opportunities may be all it takes. However, most of us will need a helping hand and need to create our own opportunities.

Specific events primarily for networking can feel like speed dating. A strong first impression is essential. Remember this triple EEE process.

  • Entrance – hold yourself with confidence.
  • Eye-contact – make eye contact with everyone in your group.
  • Elevator pitch – if you only have 3 mins with somebody, what key messages do you want to get across. know your story and know your audience. Alter your elevator pitch to reflect your audience, exclude jargon where necessary.

In contrast, your colleagues can take time to get to know and, building relationships takes effort. Make time to invest in your colleagues and networking across your business and you never know where these networks might take you.

Volunteering

TimeBank surveyed 700 volunteers across the UK, half of which claimed their volunteering experience helped them acquire a job. However, volunteering is valuable throughout every stage of your career. It can provide you with a platform demonstrate your know-how or the chance to learn about a new area in your field.

Your workplace is the best place to start. Broaden your prospects through joining projects outside your immediate role. By doing so, you will gain access to new areas of the business, enhance your knowledge and build upon your experience.

Whilst optimising opportunities within your workplace is advantageous, your search doesn’t need to be contained to your office. There are over a million volunteer positions available through Do-it.org.

Training at work

Take advantage of any training course your company provides, particularly on communication and presentation skills. It is also important to get involved with your industry events. Through doing so, you will build confidence which, as well as networking, is fundamental for a successful career.

Confidence comes through practice but also through preparation. Boost your confidence at work through their resources. Keep in mind, many organisations provide webinars or industry events to help you develop your skills. Your organisation may be willing to fund your development.

Self-development

Seek out self-development opportunities through professional qualifications. Your employer will often support this training. These qualifications demonstrate your proactive approach and increase your employability. Ultimately, it helps you to stand out.

Always remember to consider whether you need flexible training due to work commitments or personal time restraints. Self-development can be tailored to your needs and come in varying forms. Do you need a specific role for development or a versatile course with opportunities for varying positions?

Get a mentor

Last but not least, intentionally start looking for a mentor. Lots of good employers run mentor programs. However, a mentor could be a boss, a colleague or a contact. You may not already know your mentor. If not, try stepping outside your circle to begin the search. Volunteering, networking and self development courses may be your answer.

Choosing who should be your mentor depends on the end goal. You may want someone who is only one step ahead of you. They will be able to relate to challenges you are currently facing. Alternatively, seek advice from someone mature in their career and has gained much more experience than you. The will provide a birds eye view and can give an objective perspective.

Start by clarifying your mentor-mentee relationship. What do you want to gain? Make a list and discuss this together. Decide how frequently you will meet and how long this arrangement will last. Finally, keep a diary of notes from your sessions. The notes you write during and after your sessions will help you track your progress.

Above all…. confidence

The most important thing to remember is to put yourself out there. The more often you do so, the easier you’ll find it and your confidence will grow. Confidence is your best friend whether you are networking, volunteering, in training, development or during your hunt for a mentor.

About the author

Hema Tank is Associate Dean at The London Institute of Banking & Finance, a leading provider of financial education and qualifications. We’re the only professional body in the finance sector with Degree Awarding powers. We’re a specialist university college providing undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. And we’re an awarding body for professional qualifications in the sector, both in the UK and internationally.

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