5 Tips for a More Successful Career in 2021

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Here's how to grow professionally -- even when workplaces aren't yet back to normal.

For some people, a job is just a means of earning money to put in the bank. Others take pride in and enjoy doing their jobs. No matter which category you fall into, it pays to be as good as possible at what you do. Here are a few tips to become a more valued employee.

1. Grow your skills

The job market may not be all that strong at the moment, and opportunities may seem limited inside and outside your company due to the ongoing economic crisis. But that doesn't mean new opportunities won't arise soon. That's why it always pays to develop your job skills -- improving on the ones you already have and learning new ones. While it's certainly not a bad idea to focus on skills specific to your industry -- for example, learn new software if you're in IT -- you can also work on soft skills that apply to any industry, things like time management, communication, and organization.

2. Stay in touch with your colleagues

Many people work from home these days, and with that setup, it's easy to fall out of contact with fellow employees. But staying in touch is important -- it helps you maintain solid working relationships, and gives you a chance to learn from others. Make an effort to reach out to your colleagues this year. Host lunchtime check-ins or even virtual dinners after work. And it also never hurts to say hello with the occasional email.

3. Have open conversations with your boss

Your manager is supposed to guide you and help you grow professionally, so don't use not being in the same office as an excuse to pass up that feedback. Rather, talk to your boss about your performance. Ask how he or she feels you're doing, and what areas you could potentially improve upon. That insight could help you make decisions that lead to a better role.

4. Continue to embrace change

Many people had to pivot to remote work when the coronavirus pandemic broke out last March. As vaccines arrive, your employer may bring staff back to the office on a partial basis, or even full-time. Be flexible, and do your best to roll with any changes that come your way (as long as they don't compromise your health). The right attitude sends a positive message to the people responsible for your paycheck.

5. Find your passion

It's hard to do well at a job you really can't stand. If you go through the motions just to collect your salary, but don't get joy or fulfillment from what you do, it may be time to look at a change. Of course, 2021 is a scary time to make a move from one role to another. The economy as a whole isn't great, and there's an ongoing health crisis that has everyone spooked. But if you find a role you're more passionate about, you may find that you're not only happier, but perform better for your employer. And that could be your ticket to better job security or even a raise.

You probably spend a lot of your time at work, so it pays to be successful at it. Follow these tips, and with any luck, you'll make solid progress this year that serves you well for the long haul.

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