Staying relevant in today’s market

I spoke with a mid career professional last week who exited a company he had been with for 12 years. He was under the impression that he only needed to update his resume and post it on the internet in order to get a new, high paying, interesting and short commute position. That was 6 months and 3 interviews ago. He was SHOCKED

I have the pleasure of talking with dozens of you each week who are looking – or want to look – for your next career adventure. Especially in January when many of you have resolved that this year is your year to make a move. As you embark on this effort it’s important to prepare and position yourself for success.

Are your skills up to date?

When was the last time you took a class, read a book, attended a conference or got a certification? Are the skills you possess in demand today? Are the tools you use daily relevant outside of your current company? Consider taking an online course to refresh your toolset. Conferences are a great way to compress a large number of short subjects into a few days. Certifications can reinforce skills you already have by honoring them with a badge.

Have you assembled your brand?

Who are you professionally? What is your headline? What is your legacy? Try this exercise:

  1. Record your biggest wins in your current position.
  2. What phrases would your manager and peers use to describe you?
  3. What does your future you look like?

Take inventory of these items to help you develop your “brand.” This is who you want others to see in you – AND – who you want to become in your future.

Does your resume tell your story?

Today’s resumes are not simply a historical record of each position you’ve held and a list of your daily tasks. Careers aren’t necessarily linear anymore and you’ll need to weave a story of your career. Mention community and volunteer work to show the WHOLE you. Start your resume with your headline and a brief summary (3 sentences) about who you are and what you have to offer. Don’t spend hours on the cover letter that won’t be read. If you apply to a position and a cover letter isn’t requested – don’t waste your time.

Have you grown and nurtured your network?

This is the biggest misstep that most people make. They hang out with their friends and their work colleagues but don’t spend any time staying in touch with people outside of this nucleus. It’s the people you know outside of your company who will be in the best position to help you grow your career. It makes sense to stay in touch – even just on LinkedIn or via email. A simple – “It’s been forever, let’s find time to catch up,” as a standard practice in your professional life will help you stay in touch with people who can have an impact in your future. Follow through!

Are you ready to tell stories about your accomplishments?

How have you added value in your current company? Hiring managers are looking for professionals who understand the impact they have had on business. Have you automated a process that saved hours of manual intervention? Have you been part of a project team that implemented a new enterprise system? Did you close the largest deal in the company’s history? Be ready to tell your career story. Prepare examples of your favorite project, least favorite professional task, leadership style, preferred work environment – you get the idea.

Taking time to prepare and position yourself in advance of your search will result in a much more satisfying and productive effort. Make sure you know how you stack up in your sector, what skills are in demand and build a strong brand. This work will serve you well as you launch your pursuit for that next great adventure!  For more thoughts on how to land your dream job visit us here!