Expert: 5 tips to boost your career

You’ve got a job, but you want more. It’s understandable, everyone goes through ups and downs throughout his or her career. Since a worker spends an average of 90,000 hours at work over his or her lifetime, how do you make the most of it?

Kim Jarvis, the director of career coaching at SoFi — a personal finance company that specializes in student loans, mortgages and private loans — offered five tips to kickstart your career.

Take inventory of where you are

And where you want to be.

“Think about what’s working well for you in your current work situation and what you need to change,” Jarvis says. “For things that aren’t working, ask yourself what changes can you make to decrease or eliminate them?”

You can’t control whether your company is downsizing entire departments, but you can control your attitude and your performance at work. Make sure you spend your time doing your best work, not browsing Facebook and Twitter (unless that’s part of your job).

Ask for feedback

Talk to your supervisor and your colleagues about your work. How can you improve? What are you doing well? Ask them to be honest.

“Listen carefully, and don’t become defensive,” says Jarvis. “Solicit ideas about how you can more fully leverage your strengths and develop areas of weakness.”

Once you’ve got a clearer idea of where you excel and where you could improve, create a game plan. Use that feedback as a roadmap to improving your quality of work.

Target roles

If you’re bored in your current role, don’t just daydream. Consider new positions and jobs you’d be interested in — both inside your current company and outside.

“Once you’ve identified areas of interest and roles of interest, network with people who are in those jobs,” Jarvis says. “Ask them for feedback on how they got to where they are what they’d recommend you do and how you can move in that similar path.”

Take risks

Speak up in that meeting. Take on that extra project. It’s important you don’t stay in your comfort zone, Jarvis says, because if you’re in your comfort zone, then you’re not pushing yourself, you’re not growing.

“Create a goal that’s well beyond what you think might even be possible, and share that with other people,” she says. “Encourage them to give you ideas, resources, connections. Research proves if you write your goals down and share them with your friends, you’re much more likely to achieve them.”

Follow your interests

If you’re really interested in something, pursue it — even if it’s not related to your work.

“It’s amazing how doing something that is unrelated to your career will get your creative juices flowing and really infuse energy into your day-to-day job,” says Jarvis.

Taking advantage of creative opportunities will help you grow and develop in several areas that could boost your productivity at work. And they could even open doors to new career opportunities.

Bonus: Create an elevator pitch

I’m still surprised by how even the most savvy networkers and professionals overlook thinking about how they should introduce themselves to new contacts,” Jarvis says.

Take the time to sit down and think about how you want to introduce yourself. This will help if you run into one of the “Shark Tank” investors, and it’ll help you in networking events and informational interviews.

Include things about your background, like where you went to school and your past experiences. It’s important you also identify what you’re hoping to get out of that conversation.

“People are often willing to help,” says Jarvis. “Make it easy for them by clearly articulating what you’re seeking. And offer your help to them as well.”