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Where do your professional ambitions lie? If they’re more or less ahead of you, not veering wildly off at a career-change tangent, we’ve got five practical tips to help you pursue them.

The blogosphere is awash with advice on landing your dream job. This can be a great help if your inner voice is telling you to move to the Andes and become an alpaca farmer.

But many of us don’t need to search so far and wide for professional satisfaction. If you know the executive world is right for you but have yet to find the role, organisation or path that truly fulfils you within it, this post is for you.

Here are our five key recommendations to help you on your way to the career you really want.

1. Be sure you’re on the right path

Despite what we’ve said above, you have to be honest with yourself about your career goals. Reaching your pinnacle is hard work and takes 100% commitment. If your heart’s in it, you’re on the right path. If it isn’t, disillusionment and regret lie in wait.

A good starting point is to visualise you in your dream job. Forget how you’ll get there, just picture the end goal. How clear is your mental image? How rich and vibrant? What emotions does it stir in you? The intensity of your image should tell you something. The stronger it is, the more attuned you are to it and the more authentic it is to you. (And if you can’t draw any kind of line back to where you are now, it may be time to start thinking about that alpaca farm.)

2. Get on with being brilliant at work

If you’re on the right path, make it show in your current role. Do everything you can to master your chosen profession. Learn on the job. Sign up for training. Take online courses. Attend events. Read industry blogs and books. Take every learning opportunity that comes your way and use it to your advantage.

Your willingness to learn won’t just make you brilliant at what you do. In a working economy where change is the new paradigm, it demonstrates your adaptiveness - one of our top 5 traits employers want to see in job candidates.

3. Be a smarter networker

There’s no telling where and when a door may open, so of course it helps to have a wide professional network. But it can be more fruitful to target your efforts - e.g. seek out and befriend people at companies you’re interested in. Genuine enthusiasm stands out like a beacon and massively improves your chances of being in their thoughts when the right opening arises.

Meanwhile, you may want to consider creating your very own ‘career cabinet’ - a trusted cabal of three to four professional contacts (e.g. former boss, respected peer, reliable recruiter) who you can consult openly and regularly on your plans and progress.

4. Get your LinkedIn profile working for you

We recently heard a great piece of advice about how you should view your LinkedIn: Make it your career narrative, not your career history. This is another useful step on the path to career nirvana.

Like it or not, LinkedIn is almost certainly where recruiters will form their first impression of you. So think of your summary statement as your chance to pitch yourself for the job you want. Focus on where you’re heading at least as much as where you’ve come from, and lead with the skills most likely to get you there. (While you’re working on it, you might want to take some advice from this excellent post on writing the perfect LinkedIn summary.)

5. Be prepared to bide your time

Be alive to opportunity, but never feel obliged to force it. Smart networking will plug you into helpful connections. Mastering your profession will mark you out as someone to watch. And your enhanced LinkedIn profile will be an enticing calling card. But ultimately, timing matters.

You must trust that the right opportunity will come your way, even if you can’t predict when. We believe it will continue to elude you if your strategy involves applying for anything that may possibly, sort of nudge you towards where you want to be. It’s far better to be the diligent passive candidate employers want to approach when the time is right than the perennial square peg failing to cram yourself into every passing round hole.

Conclusion

We see achieving your ambitions as a balancing act between proactive planning and playing the long game. Like anything worthwhile, it takes hard work, dedication and a good deal of discipline. If you’re approaching your career goals with this mindset, we hope our tips help you on your journey.

Those in the know, share. If you think your network would find inspiration in this post, we’ve made it really easy for you to tell them using the LinkedIn Share button below.

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