9 ways you can improve your career in the next six months


01st Mar 2019


Feeling a little bored in your current role? Wondering how to step up to a more senior position? Thinking about making the move to a different field completely?

The great news is, you’re not stuck there! There are lots of things you can do to change your career prospects in a relatively short space of time. Here are some of our ideas:


1. Set goals

Many people have a career ‘end goal’ that they want to achieve, such as obtaining a certain salary or moving into senior management, but it’s difficult to achieve this without meeting some smaller milestones along the way. Maybe you need to achieve a certain qualification? Or undertake some training?

Start today by writing down the steps you need to take to meet these, and set yourself a series of practical and attainable goals with clear deadlines.


2. Take on challenges at work

Your current place of employment is a great place to start.

If you are looking to develop your skills in a particular area, speak to your manager. There may be an opportunity for them to find work for you in this area, and if you don’t ask you’ll never know. They may be excited to explore a new area of business, or you may be able to relieve a coworker of a project they are too busy for.

Many more senior roles look for management experience, but if you’re not a manager that can be hard to come by. Think outside your job role to look at places you could get experience leading a team. Is there a social committee, or could you start one? Does your company do any trips, and would it make sense for you to coordinate them?


3. Volunteer outside work

Local community groups and charities are always looking for extra help, and if you can find a group that could benefit from the skills you are hoping to develop, all the better! If you want to go into marketing, offer to do some promotion for your local tennis club. If you are hoping to go into law, join a debating club or volunteer for a legal aid charity. If you hope to go into criminology, look into drug and alcohol rehabilitation, domestic violence refuge centres and your local police station.

Whatever field you are hoping to enter, there is likely to be a host of ways to gain volunteer experience. Try searching online for “volunteer” + your field + your location in order to find relevant opportunities in your area.


4. Start an online course

Achieving an undergraduate or postgraduate qualification is a great way to show employers that you’re dedicated and determined to succeed in your field, and ready to move into senior management. The subject-specific and transferable skills that you’ll develop are applicable in almost any workplace, right from the start of your studies.

And even though our courses all take between 8 months and 48 months to complete, when you study online you don’t need to wait to graduate to start seeing the difference in your career. Studying part-time means you can start applying your new knowledge from day one.

For example, our student Julie started her new role as CEO of Age UK Scarborough & District just a few months into her MSc Business and Management. She credits the course with giving her new skills she can use directly in her new role, as well as the confidence to apply in the first place!


5. Networking

Never underestimate the power of networking. The connections you make now could be beneficial several years down the road.

In any major city there will be lots of networking events to choose from. Even in smaller towns, you’ll often find occasional events. The ideal events to attend would be industry-specific ones, such as conferences, which may require some travel. But if you’re proactive and go out of your way to meet people when you go, you’ll reap the benefits when you get closer to looking for a new role.

Don’t forget to take advantage of social networking sites. Join relevant groups on LinkedIn and engage regularly in conversations. See if there are “Twitter hours” for your field and join in the conversation on there as well.


6. Shadowing

If you know what job role you want to get into, you could approach a relevant company to see if you could shadow someone in that position. This might be difficult to work around your existing job, but if you can find a situation that works for you then you are likely to gain tons of relevant knowledge about working in that field.

If you go ahead with this, make sure you turn up prepared and take along a list of questions you have about the role. The person you are shadowing – i.e. the person in your ideal role – is going to be best placed to give you a realistic overview of what to expect from your potential future career, including warning you about any of the challenges you will face entering or working in the industry.


7. Find a mentor

A mentor will help you to steer your career in the right direction, provide advice on your goals and much more. They will be able to give valuable guidance and help you to achieve success, while challenging you to keep pushing yourself to achieve more.

Not sure who could be your mentor? If there’s someone in your workplace or industry that you admire and feel that you could learn from, they sound like an ideal candidate!


8. Reading

If you are hoping to enter a new field or advance in your current one, being informed about the latest news and biggest challenges in your industry of choice is incredibly valuable.

Do some research into the recommended books by experts in your field. Find some useful blogs and website to subscribe to. You never know how useful the information you gain will be in a future interview, or in spotting an opportunity you hadn’t thought of previously.


9. Start applying

Even if you feel like you’re not ready to move role yet, start applying anyway. You might find a company that is willing to invest in you and provide the training you need. Even if you don’t, you will have a better idea of how the job market looks, what salaries are available and what is reasonable to expect.

If you do get around to going to interviews, even if you’re not sure if you want to take the leap, the practice will come in handy for when you are in a position to do so, and you will be able to use the feedback from recruiters to know which areas you need to sharpen your skills in.


Ready to start an online course? Download a prospectus to find out what subjects are relevant to your future career goals.