Here are some tips designed to help you no matter where you are in your career.

Finding your place in the world of tax and finance can be tricky business. Technology is taking precedence in almost every profession and as everything around us becomes automated, showcasing your human assets to those around you will ensure you stand out.

Strong soft, interpersonal skills are more important than ever and together with your technical or “hard” skills, make your ‘professional self’.

Here are our top seven tips on how to successfully find and optimise your ‘professional self’.

  1.       Become goal orientated

Setting goals helps you think about what you are trying to achieve within your career, and why you want to achieve it.

Depending on your position, long or short-term goals may work better. If you are newly established in your role, think about what you want to achieve at work this calendar year. If you’re more experienced, a five-year goal may be more suitable.

Working towards a goal will help you align your actions with what you are trying to achieve. Focus on the purpose; the direction will naturally follow.

  1.       Visualise the ‘big picture’

Whether you start to think about long or short-term goals, career planning can help whilst navigating through your professional life. “Know thyself’ - think about what you want, what you thrive on and what is important to you. This will help to picture your future self and ensure that you end up where you want to be.

Think about peers that you consider successful. What is it that you admire about their success? What is it about their career that you would like to emulate?

Make sure you communicate this to your manager. You may be lucky and have a boss who encourages personal and professional development, however they still won’t be able to read your mind. Communicate who you are, where you want to go, and, if necessary, how you need their help to get there.

  1.       Confidence is King

Imposter Syndrome (the persistent inability to believe that one's success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one's own efforts or skills) is surprisingly common amongst high achievers.

Think about your past successes and the actions that have gotten you where you are today. Believing in yourself and feeling comfortable in your role takes time, but will also help you to propel to the next step and achieve your objectives.

If all else fails - fake it until you make it.

  1.       Never stop learning

Education doesn’t stop once you leave school or university. The most successful people are continually learning.

If you’re feeling insecure in a particular area of your work, look for a course that allows you to up-skill. Enrol in professional development programs that will enhance your knowledge. Join a committee or discussion group where you can share experiences with peers.

Chat to your employer about training courses or programs they offer internally, or ask for an introduction into an organisation that they are involved with.

  1.       Get networking right

Networking is a consistently powerful tool in opening doors and keeping you on the path of opportunity. Making connections with peers at every level, could be the key to your next project or promotion!

When attending an event with the intention to network, establish a purpose and desired outcome. Spend time focusing on a handful of people rather than making less meaningful connections with a large group. Ensure you create a follow-up opportunity to keep the connection strong.

People are much more likely to remember a conversation than a business card.

If a peer or colleague introduces you to someone, take advantage of this! It could be your next big break.

  1.       Build your online brand

Your brand reflects who you are and what you do. Your brand exists, whether you are aware of it or not.

Almost every professional person has a LinkedIn profile and utilises it to keep up to date with connections as they move through their career. Social media posts (and privacy settings) have a huge impact on your online brand. Take advantage of this tool, keep your information up to date and be aware that every post reflects directly up on you.

Having a strong, professional online presence that reflects who you are is important when making those valuable connections. It is also what more than 90% of employers check when recruiting for new positions.

  1.       Don’t forget about your personal self

In order to stay effective and energetic, you must make wellbeing and health a priority. In a busy world, it is easy to rely on coffee after coffee to stay productive, however this is not a positive long-term solution.

Whether it’s hopping off at a train station slightly further away than your usual for the extra walk, or waking up 10 minutes earlier to have a cup of tea in bed; make that time for some self-care.

Having a clear head will help you to achieve and stay focused at work. Find out what works for you and when things get busy, don’t let it slide too far down your priority list.

The Tax Institute is dedicated to supporting the career progression of women in the tax, accounting and legal professions. As the leading forum for Australia’s tax community, we are committed to representing our 12,000 members and the continuous improvement of the tax system. Find out more about the benefits membership of The Tax Institute can deliver for your role

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