With 15 years of corporate human resources experience, I’m often asked to share career development advice.  Here are 7 ideas that will help you navigate your career to ultimately gain the satisfaction you’re looking for in 2012.

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1. Decide where you want to go: Though most people know what they DON’T like about their careers, very few have identified and can articulate what they DO want.  They are clear about how much they hate their current role, but they haven’t invested the time in identifying their career goals.  However, until you’ve decided where – specifically- you want to go, it’s going to be hard getting there.  Even in your networking, it’s impossible for others to help you navigate to your ideal when you are unable to articulate your desired destination.

2. Give me your number: I hate to be so black and white, but once you take away all the warm and fuzzy stuff, your value to a corporation can be measured one of two ways: how much revenue you produce and/or how much money you save.  Either you’re a rainmaker and your efforts directly or indirectly bring money into the company or your efforts help the company save money because of your skills and efficiency.  If you do either of those things better than others, you need to be able to quantify that value.  Knowing that value and being able to communicate it can provide a competitive edge.

3. Explore something completely different – most people are in jobs that they MUST be in.  few people are living their passion…and it shows.  People who love what they do bring their whole selves to work every day, and consequently, they typically get better results.  Even within your current organization, speak with your human resources professionals to explore other parts of the company that might be a better fit for your skills, experiences and passions.

4. Pick up a new skill – Jim Rohn, the personal development expert, said that to add value to the marketplace, you want to always be improving your skills.  “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.”  In other words, you must take care of the goose if you want to produce golden eggs in your career.  Whether you go back to school to be certified in a new skill, or even get a degree, you add value to your career by increasing your base of skills and information.

5. Network , Network, Network. I know you feel like you just don’t have the time to attend these after-work and weekend events.  However, networking events provide the arena to make the informal connections that can propel your career.   Networking is difficult because you’re not always sure what to say.  However, once you know specifically what you’re looking for, and what value you add to the marketplace, you become a bit more comfortable engaging in the small talk that often leads to big results.

6. Aim first. I’ve seen people spend hours, day after day, surfing the Internet looking for new opportunities.  While many people have found their jobs online, the Internet should be just one component of an effective career search. The internet is an extremely powerful tool.  It vast wealth of information can become a trap (black hole) and you can get lost clicking links on a path to nowhere  if you are not clear about what you are looking for.  Have a game plan.  Know what companies, positions you are exploring and remained disciplined to research those roles/organizations without getting lost.

7. Water the grass beneath you. Sometimes the grass actually IS greener elsewhere, and in ideal conditions, you would be wise to make a career move.  However, life’s circumstances may prevent you from making a career move at this time.  When this happens, commit to making your current role more of what you are looking for.  Try to add components of what you feel you’re missing to your current role – with your manager’s permission, of course.  When you know what you need, adding those tasks to your current role can help increase your job satisfaction.