With 2016 right around the corner, it’s time to take control of your career. At Career Reform, we empower professionals to treat their careers as businesses, and themselves as owners. That means we are all the CEOs, CFOs, and COOs, of what we refer to as “You, Inc.” Start by focusing on what employers really want from their candidates, and how to create a career plan that drives your business to succeed.
In today’s modern, digitized work world, job seekers need to take on a strategic, multifaceted approach. Whatever your dream job may be (an accountant, a fitness trainer, a civil engineer, a social worker, or an executive), taking your career to the next level starts with YOU. The truth is employers are looking for top performers who are specialized in one field and have built in-demand skill sets that make them masters of their craft. They don’t want do-it-all generalists. Taking the initiative to speak up for your business lets potential employers know that you have an important quality they’re looking for: accountability.
Most job seekers I interview have the same goal in mind: to secure a position in a company culture that brings them joy, presents new challenges, and offers opportunities for career mobility and salary enhancement. But wait, there’s something missing! They have no idea how to create a plan that leads to career happiness. When a job seeker is left feeling downtrodden and confused, they often turn to their circle of influence (family, friends, mentors, and colleagues.) Yes, it’s amazing to have support, but they often neglect the one person who holds all the cards: themselves.
Newsflash: the economy, your current boss, the tooth fairy, or whatever it may be is not guiding your future. My team’s extensive research tells us that it’s just not that complicated and that most successful people (physically, mentally, and monetarily) are those who know they decide their own fate. It takes a person with accountability to approach each new position as an opportunity to add to their skill set in a way their previous position couldn’t. They recognize that in order to establish a well-rounded background they need to be constantly evolving. It’s time to realize that the choices you make guide your professional development.
You would be surprised how many people choose occupational choices based on outdated and limited viewpoints. I can’t tell you how often I hear things like, “It’s the family business and I sort of just fell into it,” or “I went to law school because my parents wanted me to.” Not enough people take the time to explore all of their options out there, which is why they don’t know what type of work makes them happy. Job seekers, you need to stop thinking traditionally. The employment world is changing, so you need to take advantage of every professional building opportunity like career assessments, which never fail to provide some much-needed perspective.
Higher education is a big promoter of stereotypical high-paying jobs that have been around for ages – medicine, law, finance, engineering, teaching – and many budding minds miss out on new positions in emerging technologies. Many positions go unfilled due to lack of awareness, and it’s a shame when job creation is soaring. For those who are already working, be sure to keep your skills sharp. A very few number of employees actually take advantage of optional training programs that are offered to them.
It goes without saying that your professional brand plays a significant role in your current and future success. Gone are the days where employers rely solely on resumes and cover letters to fill positions. They want to get to know candidates on every level possible. At the VERY least, candidates must create, optimize, and maintain a LinkedIn profile. This doesn’t mean you can just build it and leave it. Keep active on LinkedIn by sharing growth trends in your field, contributing to group conversations, and connecting with thought leaders. Not only will your activities demonstrate your expertise and show you’re not letting your skills soften, it also shows you’re tech-savvy and ambitions. Employers look for all those traits in a new recruit.
Don’t worry, if you don’t know what your ultimate dream job is, that’s okay. That doesn’t mean you can’t accept positions strategically. The key here is to amass a variety of experiences that build upon each other. A sustainable career plan no longer includes staying at one job in one capacity. Instead, try mixing it up. If you’ve spent some quality time working for a large corporation, try working for a small business. It’s important to have a written a professional plan you can commit to, no matter your career situation or experience level.
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