The most successful careers aren’t built solely between nine and five.

In this modern era that allows you to take accredited college courses online and consume a near-infinite amount of content wherever you are, you can develop your career at any time day or night. Successful people upskill constantly, and are always open to opportunities to develop their skills. In order to keep up, you need to do the same and work on your career, wherever and whenever you can.

Look for advice

No matter what industry you work in, there is some content available online to help deepen your understanding of the business. From tweets to online video, if you can sell it you can be certain someone is talking about it online. Make sure you stay up to date with the most relevant voices in your industry; follow them on Twitter, connect with them on LinkedIn and subscribe to their blogs. They will teach you wherever you get the chance to engage with their work. Outside of your sector you will also find plenty of career advice blogs, motivational TED talks and other content to help you in building a successful career. This content is both freely available and valuable, why not use it?

Build your personal brand

Your online presence is the version of you most employers or potential business partners will meet before they meet you in person, it’s vital that it makes an impression. Optimise your LinkedIn profile to ensure it paints an accurate picture of your abilities. Work on your Twitter account, follow relevant people in your industry, get involved in the conversations they are in and add you own voice. Consider starting a personal blog that represents your take on the industry and post regular, relevant content. Above all make sure that every online channel you use is active and up to date. An out of date or unflattering profile will be a lot more damaging than no profile at all.

Network – Online and offline

Use your downtime to talk to any and every influential person you can get your hands on. Go to events, make connections and get to know people who can support your career. Just meeting for a coffee, or chatting on a LinkedIn group, can help to keep you in the mind of a potential employer or business partner; or provide vital insight into your career choices.

E-learning

These days, there is very little you can’t learn online. If you need to upskill to move to the next phase of your career, don’t wait around for the perfect moment to take on a full-time course or squeeze 6 hours of lectures into an already busy week. Those perfect times rarely come along. Instead, look for online opportunities to gain those same skills. Most e-learning programs are more flexible and varied than full or part-time courses, and they usually cost less too.

Work for free

If you do have some free time, look for work experience wherever you can find it, even if it means doing some work for free. It is important to get paid for the things you excel at, but that shouldn’t prevent you from gaining valuable experience where you can. This is especially true if you’re planning a change in career direction. Remember gaining experience for free is different to working for nothing.

If you want to succeed, you need to work at it. That means giving time to your career whenever you have it to spare, and even when you don’t.

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