Let there be no doubt: the concept of loyalty between employers and employees is limited, at best, these days. You are in the driver’s seat regarding your career. Therefore, it is imperative that you take the time to manage your own career. Here is a list of five guidelines to get you started and motivated.
- Use LinkedIn. LinkedIn is your online relationship builder. It’s where you find people. It’s where people find you. It’s where you can apply directly for jobs. Key elements for using LinkedIn:
(1) Increase your connections to 500+.
(2) Don’t indicate your birthdate or the year you graduated.
(3) Follow key groups: your industry, your alma maters, your passions.
(4) Be active: "Like", "Share", "Endorse", and "Congratulate" others.
There are plenty of resources out there on how to make the best use of LinkedIn. Don’t be shy.
- Communicate your accomplishments. On LinkedIn and on your hardcopy resume, you will need to think about how best to communicate your current and previous work. Think in these terms: Numbers, Examples, Accomplishments and Results. The acronym is NEAR.* Recruiters and employers want to know what you’ve done and how you’ve been successful. Don’t wait for others to pat you on the back. Create a log of how you have helped or improved a situation at your current employer and at previous jobs. This should form the body of your resume.
- Network. Networking... The word can be turn-off to many people. Instead, think of networking as building relationships: the opportunity to get to know people outside your current group of friends and associates. Jobs and opportunities are often found one step removed from your current circle. Think in terms of small steps — you don’t have to meet a ton of people at an event, just a few. Follow up with an email ("Great to meet you...") and a personal invite on LinkedIn. Your circle just grew. And maybe you’ll make a friend or two.
- Develop your skills. How important is skills development? Very. ...How have you grown? ...What resources have you committed to your career? Classes, informational interviews, seminars and conferences are a few ways that you can continue to build your skill base. Now it’s easier than ever: attend a webinar, join a conference call, or become a member of a professional group. Be a leader — know about the current trends in your discipline.
- Watch your finances. Be aware of your financial well-being and commitments. Sometimes you’ll need to take a lateral move to grow. If switching careers, you may have to start at the bottom, once again, and work your way up. Therefore, it is imperative that you keep a healthy savings account (at least 9 months of living expenses), keep your debt down, and spend money wisely. Be prepared to seize the next opportunity when it arises!