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Employees must enhance skills for career growth

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Low unemployment levels prevail nationwide, but that does not mean workers should not look to improve job skills and performance.

Not only is competition among professionals at all levels increasing, but employers fully expect their people to expand industry expertise and contribute to greater corporate profitability.

Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam, a staffing service specializing in highly skilled temporary office and administrative professionals, outlined 10 steps workers can take to enhance their career growth in 1998:

1. Establish goals. "Every employee should develop a list of objectives to achieve ... and review it frequently, taking action at every opportunity," Domeyer said. "This could include activities such as building customer relations or reading trade journals to keep apprised of industry trends."

2. Get organized. Whether it's utilizing project-tracking software or a day-planning notebook, strong organizational skills are key to moving forward in your career.

3. Seek new responsibilities. Offering to assume additional duties or oversee projects, regardless of their size, will provide valuable experience and foster professional growth.

4. Learn new technologies. "With new computer systems and software being introduced daily, your technical training is never complete," Domeyer said. "Developing greater expertise with new applications or becoming more Internet-savvy will enhance your career development."

5. Network. Join a trade association to interact with others in your profession and stay current on trends in your field. Maintain contact with former business associates, college alumni, professors, etc.

6. Dress for success. "Select business attire appropriate for the position you would like to have in your company," Domeyer said.

7. Become a mentor in your department. Not only will you benefit by assisting co-workers and fostering staff camaraderie, but you will strengthen your interpersonal and leadership skills.

8. Be visible. Without boasting, take prudent steps to ensure your accomplishments are known to others. This can include, where appropriate, actions such as speaking up during meetings, presenting suggestions for improving business practices or even arriving early to the office.

9. Remain flexible. "Always be open to new challenges and assignments," Domeyer said. "Don't dismiss a project if it falls outside of your job description it could serve as a springboard to gaining new responsibilities."

10. Stay upbeat. Maintaining a positive attitude when workloads peak demonstrates an ability to produce results under pressure, which is always a valuable trait.

Domeyer added that employers want their workers to be proactive in enhancing personal and department productivity. "Even in this candidate-friendly market, most managers are watching for employees who make concerted efforts to take on new challenges and broaden their roles," she said.

(The preceding article was provided by OfficeTeam staffing service.)

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