The job market is a little dicey these days, and you need to be career savvy in order to keep your job, or get into a new one.
So how can you bullet proof your career so that you stay in high demand with people who could potentially hire you, or introduce you to others who could potentially hire you?
A new client I’ll call “Shawn” recently called me and said that he had gone through a change in management which resulted in losing his 7-year position as a Leading Program Manager of a prestigious high tech company.
He told me that after one year of searching, he had taken the “only job he could get” which was working part-time in the IT department for another company. After talking for a few minutes, it became painfully clear why Shawn wasn’t able to get back on his career path.
1. Keep yourself marketable. Shawn shared that the high tech industry was starting to require a project management certification for project and program managers. However, Shawn wasn’t stepping up to get the required training.
What he WANTED was to get re-hired as a Program Manager, and then have the new company pay for his certification. What he GOT was two years sitting on the bench without a job.
Never let your career sit on a shelf longer than 6-months. Never! Keep the same drive and discipline that you had when you were employed. Get focused. Get a plan. Make it happen. Wallowing isn’t allowed. Instead, seek out opportunities to keep yourself marketable. Use your “in-between” jobs time to get advanced training and education to help advance your career. Consider expanding your skill set by freelancing or consulting. Join an association’s Board of Directors, or at minimum, a committee. These strategies will help keep you visible, expand your network, and keep yourself marketable.
2. Fish where the fish are. Another mistake Shawn was making was not having a solid job search strategy. Where are your potential employers? Find out by reading trade magazines, industry publications, company websites and classified ads in your local newspapers to learn which industries are hiring, which companies are hiring, and what the hot jobs are.
Start attending industry conferences, trade shows, business networking events and association meetings. Also, join professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.com (you can connect to me!) to get connected to industry leaders and company decision makers. Make it a priority to get connected, and stay connected, to people who can inspire you, hire you, or introduce you to potential employers.
3. Be a resource to others. Never give the impression that you’re hungry for a job. Instead, you want to be seen as someone who drives initiatives, solves problems and leads teams. This is one reason why you want to consult, freelance, or volunteer while you’re in between jobs.
Get personal with your professional network. Send out links to reports, case studies, press releases and websites that you think might interest those in your network. Invite them to business networking events, and introduce them to other movers and shakers. Influencers are drawn to those who are resourceful.
4. Give your resume the “it” factor. When it comes to resumes – looks are everything! If you’ve been applying for jobs that you’re qualified for, but you’re not getting the interviews, then you need a stronger resume.
Hiring managers can have stacks and stacks of resumes piled high on their desk which means that if your resume doesn’t have the “it” factor – you’re toast. Don’t lose out on a great job because your resume doesn’t stand up against your competition. Instead, invest in a professional resume critique. You’ll get specific strategies based on your goals, strengths and accomplishments to get the attention of hiring managers and put yourself in high demand!
5. Consider Hiring a Career Coach. Everyone has career bumps, so it’s completely normal to be stuck sometimes. The important thing is to have a strong support system in place of mentors and career coaches who can offer support and guidance.
A great career coach can give you the tools, support, and a step-by-step roadmap to help put your career back on track. Making an investment in a career coach means investing in yourself and your career, and could result in cutting your search time by as much as 50-percent, plus MORE money in your pocket with a higher starting salary.
The point is that if you’ve been unemployed or at a lower level position for longer than six months, then you need to shake things up! Try different career strategies and start thinking outside the box. And never, ever give up your drive, ambition and courage that it takes to move your career forward.
Your job is out there waiting for you. You just need to go get it!