It’s great to be able to welcome one of InterviewIQ’s guest authors – Susan Wareham McGrath back with a very timely blog about refocussing our careers. There’s some really great advice.
Take it away Susan…..
The new financial year is a great time to take stock of your career. So if you’re suffering from workplace woes or just feel like you’re treading water, here are five resolutions to help make your career work for you this year!
1. Give your Career a Health Check
Just as you need to look after your own health, you need to look after your career’s health to make it work for you. The start of the year is a great time to review your progress towards your career goals and make plans for the rest of the year.
Consider setting aside some time to think about:
- where you are now,
- where you would like to be,
- what you need to do to get there and
write a simple career management plan to help you keep on track over the next twelve months.
Remember to include SMART goals and milestones (ie Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant Time-bound), and don’t be afraid to change the plan as your circumstances change. Just like strategic plans, career management plans should be living documents with built-in flexibility to be adaptable to changing circumstances.
2. Update your Resume
Have you ever missed out on a job opportunity because you didn’t have a current resume at the ready? Don’t let that happen again – spend some time this weekend getting your resume up to date!
Some tips for a competitive resume:
- make it achievement focused, rather than a list of duties taken directly from
your job description,
- consider carefully whether including a career objective is adding value – even resume writing professionals disagree on this issue,
- try and keep it to 3 or 4 pages (remember your resume’s purpose is to get you an interview not to get you the job – keep it short and simple – leave the detail for the interview) ,
- use keywords liberally throughout your resume,
- keep the format clean, simple and professional (no funny or suggestive email
addresses please!) and
- proofread and check it carefully (get someone else to check it as well).
Also remember that resumes need to be targeted to specific jobs so always review your resume from the employer’s perspective before submitting it. Ensure its content is specific to the job in question. Recent research indicates that employers take less than 20 seconds to decide whether a resume is worth consideration so it’s important that you showcase your suitability for the role from the start.
3. Review your Social Media Profiles
Be very careful how you present yourself on social media. It can be your best friend or your worst foe in terms of career branding as increasing numbers of employers check candidates’ social media profiles when considering their employment application.
How would your social media profiles shape up against employer scrutiny?
When you’re engaged in a job search it’s well worth looking through the eyes of a prospective employer at the image you present to the online world.
Does your Facebook page contain content that might work against you in a job search? If so, you could consider making it private.
On this note you may want to look at InterviewIQ’s previous blog Facebook Twitter Candidate Checks…..should we….. just because we can?
Is your LinkedIn profile up to date and keyword rich so it comes up in searches for people in your industry? Have you used LinkedIn to connect strategically, join groups and to build up your profile as an expert in your field?
Do you have an online resume?
If not, it’s never too late to start – even spending a little time on developing a professional social media profile will provide you with a very positive return.
4. Access the Hidden Job Market
It’s been estimated that up to 85% of Australian jobs are not advertised publicly; constituting Australia’s “hidden job market”. And these jobs come with an added bonus. Industry estimates indicate that only 5% – 10% of candidates know of them, so there is much less competition for them – a real bonus for savvy jobseekers!
So how do you break into the hidden job market?
There are a number of strategies you can use.
One of the most effective strategies is networking – making connections with people who can advise you of potential or current job opportunities, or who can introduce you to people who are aware of those opportunities. Personal and online networking are both very effective ways of gaining leads and introductions. In the online space, LinkedIn in particular is a great networking resource for people who are looking for a new job especially when you approach your LinkedIn job search campaign in a focused and strategic way.
You can also take your networking a step further by strategically volunteering with companies or within industries relevant to your career ambitions. The recent InterviewIQ blog An Update on Volunteering your way into a New Job may provide some useful insight.
A second strategy to break into the hidden job market is to undertake industry research to identify organisations you would like to work for. Then either cold call the HR department or if you find cold calling daunting, introduce yourself in writing, advising you’ll follow up with a phone call. Prepare what you’re going to say in advance, ensuring you highlight the ways in which you can add value to the organisation. Follow up by sending a short letter or email to the person you spoke to, thanking them for their time and reiterating your interest in working for the organisation – a small gesture that has a lot of impact!
Registering with recruitment agencies is another effective strategy to access the hidden job market. Not only do professional recruitment consultants often know of jobs that aren’t advertised elsewhere, but they are skilled at promoting their candidates and can give you invaluable advice about presentation, branding and interview skills to assist you through the job application process.
5. Define and Promote your Personal Brand
In career terms, your personal brand is the way you present yourself and the unique value that you add to everyone you come into contact with who has the potential to positively impact your career. This includes work colleagues, your employer, clients, recruiters, professional networks, friends and people you meet through your professional social media networks.
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression
… so it’s important that you promote your personal brand professionally from the start. When you’re applying for a job, you start building your brand with your resume and application letter. Your performance at interview is also part of your branding – whether you dress appropriately, your body language, your confidence and mannerisms.
As an employee, it’s critical that you project a strong and positive brand that clearly and consistently indicates your value to an employer in the ways they need the most. This will ensure you stand out from the crowd and have a head start in the competition to move up the career ladder.
In your drive to move your career forward though it’s important not to forget that value congruence is an important part of branding. Essentially this means that it’s important that you don’t force yourself to apply for a position that offends your values, or in an organisation that clashes with your ethics. It won’t work and you’ll feel fake. You’ll make yourself unhappy and your brand will eventually fall apart.
So there you have them – your career management plan, a targeted, updated resume , a great social media presence, the hidden job market and personal branding – five career tools you can use this year to banish your workplace woes for good!
On a final note I’d suggest it’s smart to reassess your new career management plan each year…..so diarise it!