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Career Control – You own it…here’s how

Based on my last blog that was focused on providing co-op students and graduate hires with advice on how to prepare for upcoming placements, I thought it would be prudent to offer up some advice for another group of professionals. Specifically I am talking that group of individuals that have been working in their first job(s) since graduating a few years back but aren’t certain of what their next career move should be, how they should make the move…or even what the ‘right’ move is. The question I have often been asked is, “how do I find that next best opportunity.” Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet or magic elixir to take that will allow that to happen, but I can provide a set of tips that when used in various combinations and permutations will help you to open up some doors and hopefully lead you to that next career move that will be both challenging and rewarding for you:

1) Talk to your boss – assuming that he/she is not the reason you are looking to make a move, talk to them. Request a formal meeting where you want to discuss your career and your development plan. Make it clear to them that you are looking to get an idea as to what type of future you have with the company. Be honest and constructive – if you feel you have plateaued, let them know. Make sure that they see your performance the way you see it (you need to be on the same page for this one.)  Ask them if you can take on a stretch assignment, be seconded to another area (works best if you have some ideas as to where) or even if you can identify a formal development plan together. Your current manager may not even be aware of your desire to do more, grow, etc. Remember – their job is to make sure you have the knowledge, skills and abilities to do your current job.

2) Talk to HR – really..don’t laugh. A good HR Manager forms a strategic part of your internal network. Talk to them about the company, your development plan and your desire to grow with the company. Yes, they will probably coach you to have this discussion with your manager as well; however, they may be able to identify other possible areas in the company where you may be able to grow and potentially move into – post discussions with your manager.

3) LinkedIn – at the end of the day, if it really is time for you to move on (maybe your current company is small and there is no room to grow, etc.) LinkedIn is a great way to begin networking. Ensure your profile is up to date and make sure that your achievements and results are highlighted (more in the next section). Join groups – LinkedIn has a fantastic array of groups to join. Find some that align with your background or what you are looking to do. Join these groups but most importantly – CONTRIBUTE to these groups! Ask questions….answer questions…provide content. This forms the basis of your networking and helps you engage with other professionals. This is the foundation of social media – being social. Additionally on LinkedIn, it is advisable to Follow companies you are interested in potentially working for. Monitor their activity and network with individuals that currently work for that company. By increasing your network, you increase your exposure.

4) Your resume – much like LinkedIn, make sure your resume is up to date and focuses on your project accomplishments, achievements and results. Recruiters are looking for sentences that start with words like Saved, Improved, Reduced, Increased, etc. What recruiters are not looking for is a comprehensive list of your current responsibilities – aka your job description.  And when you are applying for positions, make sure that the qualifications and attributes that are being asked for are contained in your resume…otherwise you won’t get pass the applicant tracking system.

5) Professional Association Events – these are a great source of networking and information sharing.  The various professional associations often host breakfast/lunch/dinner events with a keynote speaker or they provide learning symposiums or similar events – including provincial or state conferences. By attending and networking, you are becoming known in your industry circle and are opening up the hidden doors in the job market.

These five tips are a great starting point for professionals that are in the early stages of their career. Try one or two of these tips to get started and see if you start to get some traction with your career. Remember, you and only you are responsible for your career development…take control and ownership of it. I wish you the best of luck in your search and if you have any other suggestions to add to the list I would love to hear back from you.

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2 Responses

  1. Great advises! Thank you so much for sharing.

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