Career Advice for Your Success in 2012

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by Stephanie Bravo

Building the Latino FutureThe beginning of the year always presents this feeling of endless possibilities. Some of your resolutions may be going well and some…not so much. No matter how they’re going, I must suggest adding, “put your career on the fast track” near the top of your list. Here are some surefire ways to help you propel your career this year:

1) Map out your goals. How do you know where you’re going if you don’t have a map to get you started? Sure you can just wander and see if you find the correct destination by chance, but that sets you back in achieving your end goal. If you write out your long-term goals, then you can map out your day-to-day tasks and short-term goals that keep you moving on track towards achieving your long-term goals. In essence, you’re working backwards creating the larger vision, and then breaking things down into smaller, achievable goals to make it easier for you to stay on course. Think about this in terms of weight loss: You set your long-term goal of losing 30 pounds in 6 months. This means that you have to lose 5 pounds per month, or 1.25 pounds per week—so you’ve got to start hopping on that treadmill daily and eating your veggies to get to your long-term goal. Breaking things down into smaller, more manageable increments can help you stick to those long-term goals. Apply this to your career goals keeping in mind the reason behind the goal and it can work wonders for your achievement this year. For more tips, check out “Personal Goal Setting: Planning to Live Your Life Your Way” by Mindtools.com.

2) Know your strengths. A healthy dose of self-exploration is absolutely necessary if you’re looking for a job or if you want to get to the next stage in your career. You have to figure out what is important to you, what your strengths are, what you need to be successful, and what’s the best way for you to attain your goals. I come back to this book time-and-time again to identify and learn how to employ my strengths: Now, Discover Your Strengths
by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton Ph.D. The book revolves around the StrengthsFinder Profile—a well-researched diagnostic tool that identifies your top strengths and teaches you how to utilize them to your advantage. Find out your strengths and then put them into practice to help you succeed!

3) Get out of your comfort zone. Almost everyone loves to live in their comfort zone. We are performing at our best, eloquent in our knowledge, and playing to our strengths. Why would you want to leave this comfy place? To grow, of course! If you’re an expert in your field, then whenever you engage in dialogue about your expertise you are mostly teaching others and not doing much learning yourself. A specialist in the field of Transformational Leadership, Nanci Luna Jimenez empowers others to take that leap into their grow (aka “groan”) zone through her series of world-renowned seminars. I had the opportunity to participate in her seminars, and am thankful that I can now identify when I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and into my grow zone. It helped me feel more at ease with new situations to perceive things as aiding in my development and learning rather than as venturing into scary, unknown territory.

4) Boost your skills. A fantastic way to give your career an added boost is by enrolling in classes, volunteering, or attending webinars that promote your personal and professional development. My favorite way to add to my knowledge base and improve my skills is by attending webinars. They are usually held after working hours, are recorded so you can look over them again, and directly engage a community of experts to share subjects that are important to you. Some great webinar resources can be found at The National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI). The NHLI hosts a free monthly webinar series aimed to inform, engage, and promote Latinas throughout the nation. More than that, these NHLI Webinars are presents byLatina leaders from all over the nation and who are experts in their webinar topics! From time management to advancing your career to improving your mental health, NHLI Webinars cover a variety of topics that can help you boost your skills in areas where you may be lacking.

5) Become social media savvy. You cannot run, and you can try to hide, but you will not be able to escape the ever-growing social media monster. Employers are increasingly using social media to screen applicants for job interviews. So why not use social media to your advantage by building your brand and expanding your network? Additionally, you can: create open channels between your organization and its customers by creating a Facebook fan page, hear about the latest news from respected thought-leaders via Twitter, and connect with prospective employers on LinkedIn. It’s one of best 21st century technological developments to propel your career (if used wisely, of course—no incriminating photo uploads). To help you build your social media skills and find current topics and events in the Latino Community, check out Latism—the largest organization of Hispanic professionals engaged in social media. Also, webinars are quite useful for helping you improve your social media skills.

6) Look to a mentor. I will continue to emphasize this point until you’re sick of hearing it, but mentors are essential to helping you in your career (see my previous article “5 Unique Reasons Why You Need a Mentor.”). Moreover, within the Latino community it’s so important to have these people in your life to help you maintain a balance between your background and the working world. For some incredibly inspirational stories about current Latino leaders, read the book Building the Latino Future: Success Stories for the Next Generation by Frank Carbajal. This book captures some essential characteristics, skills, and life lessons that Latino leaders have utilized to rise to immeasurable heights. Another great way to find a mentor and build up your skills is to attend Mr. Carbajal’s Silicon Valley Latino Leadership Summit at Stanford University on May 19th. I hope to see you there putting this advice into action!

Stephanie Bravo is the Co-Founder and President of StudentMentor.org, a nonprofit organization that helps college students achieve their academic and career goals through the power of mentoring. As a first generation college student, Stephanie was only able to graduate from San Jose State University earning a B.A. in Psychology through the help of a mentorship program. Her life-changing experience with a mentor inspired her to help other students succeed in higher education. Stephanie is an active advocate for increasing Latinos in higher education through her volunteer work at the Latina Coalition for Silicon Valley and Hispanic Scholarship Fund. Stephanie is a proud Mexican-American spanning back four generations to the 1940s when her great-grandparents retired migrant farming and settled in San Jose, California.