It shouldn’t be a secret that employers look for individuals who challenge themselves in their jobs and work towards professional growth. In a business climate that demands change, career evolvement is critical to landing a new position. Because the typical American career no longer consists of long tenures and a one-stop organization, many employers are more hesitant to take on the lofty investment of training and developing their employees. This responsibility for hard and soft skill growth has shifted to the employee or job seeker yet few are making enhanced training a priority until it’s too late. In fact, employers prefer to hire or promote self-directed candidates rather than investing in a staff that’s inexperienced and unprepared.
One example that comes to mind is an interview with a former candidate, Matt, who after 15 years in the banking industry, was looking for a change. But when I asked him about his career story, he admitted that he simply “fell into” his position, accepting the first opportunity that came along after graduation. Despite years of hard work and four promotions, his latest role of Director of Marketing and Communications was restructured, giving Matt a reason to finally resign. He was confident that his vast experience would win him to a new opportunity and he’d be back on his feet in no time. But several months of unemployment wavered his self-esteem, and Matt began to question his not-so-stable career situation.
Matt failed to realize how employers viewed his resume. To hiring managers, Matt let the company he was working for design his career instead of taking a self-empowered approach. With no clear direction or plans for growth, employers saw a man who allowed his career to move him. To make matters worse, Matt was forced to learn how to navigate a whole new job market and bring his outdated skills up to speed. It’s no wonder his resume was constantly tossed into the reject pile without a second look. Matt knew he needed to redefine his career, his goals and his entire approach to the employment world. Could this be you?
TIPS FOR BUILDING AN EMPOWERED CAREER IN 2016
1. Assess and Analyze
If you’re unhappy at work, try to assess the situation – is it the company or how you’re approaching your role? I coach many candidates whose only strategy for professional development is leaving the company they’re working for. They are uncomfortable sharing any negative feelings about their role and believe that exiting is the only way out. If you do need to leave your current position to enhance your background, find out what experiences your resume is missing. After self-reflection, Matt found out that Marketing and Communications wasn’t for him. What he really loved was managing people, coordinating projects, and overseeing operations. With a new level of professional awareness, Matt was able to redefine his career direction and communicate his story in a way that connected to employers and proved he had a plan.
2. Continue Learning
Stay on top of current trends within your industry of choice and work towards enhancing your skillset. Whether it’s taking an online course, updating your certifications, or getting trained in relevant software programs, everything counts. Go to indeed.com and research the position you’re currently in as well as the next level, asking yourself if you have those same marketable skills advertised in those job postings. Many of our clients complain that their staff doesn’t take advantage of the training opportunities they offer.
3. Stay Involved
Volunteering, internships or contract jobs are great opportunities to keep your talent fresh and gain experience with a variety of clients and company cultures, especially if your current gig isn’t directly related to where you hope to be. Somebody you meet might recognize skills you’ve never given consideration to.
4. Keep Records
It may sound juvenile, but keeping a career journal will allow you to be more aware of your actions, learn from your mistakes, and remind you of your end goal. Staying on track is the key to achieving success, no matter the circumstances.
5. Stay Informed
Seek out mentors, thought leaders, and colleagues that can guide you in your career journey. Don’t have any in mind? Start by joining new groups on LinkedIn and getting involved in professional associations within and outside your field.
Reimagining your career takes courage, hard work, and strategic planning. It is possible to transfer your skills in ways you’ve never dreamed of. Rather than sticking with the status quo and allowing your career to simply coast, take an empowered, self-directed approach. If you do, I guarantee, you’ll start seeing results.
It’s time to start acting like a business owner. Have you started on your job search plan? Complete with resume / cover letter guides and useful checklists, our free Job Search Toolkit will help you get your career off the ground and track your progress.