Given the condition of the economy and job market for the better part of this last decade, there are really two kinds of people in the workforce: those who are looking for a job and those who might well be looking for one very soon. There is no longer any such thing as real job security, but there are a few things you can do to give you a leg up, whether you’re currently employed or actively looking for a job.
Here are a few ways you can boost your career prospects:
1. Be The Go-To Guy Or Gal
Be the person whom others think of first when they need something. That means being knowledgeable beyond the immediate requirements of your job description, and willing to go the extra mile to make the business – and not just your little corner of it – function smoothly and profitably.
If you’re currently employed, taking a can-do/will-do approach will increase your value to the company, and could well put you further down the pink slip list. And, if you’re looking for a job, demonstrating that you’re a team player is infinitely more impressive to a prospective employer than merely spouting the requisite buzz-word. You don’t want to be the person whom everyone pushes their less desirable tasks, of course, but there’s a big gray area between being a great resource and being a patsy.
(Hint: Keep a jar of good candy on your desk, and let people know they’re welcome to sample it. You wouldn’t believe how essential such a simple gesture can make you appear to co-workers.)
2. Be On Time
Big job interview at 9 o’clock? Get there a few minutes early. Not so early that you appear desperate or completely devoid of anything else in your life, but under no circumstances barring an emergency should you be late. Announcing yourself to the receptionist 5 to 7 minutes before your appointment is optimal.
To a prospective employer, being available the moment he or she is ready to interview you indicates that you are reliable and respectful, and if the interviewer becomes available a couple of minutes early, you will have saved him or her precious time, which is always appreciated. The same applies if you already have a job. The only reason you should be late for a meeting or appointment is when you are doing something crucial for the company.
3. Cut To The Chase
Whether you’re being interviewed or passing along information in a meeting at your current job, be as direct as you can in responding to questions or offering information about yourself. You don’t want to be a robot, but neither do you want to come across as a pontificator or a comedian. Meetings and interviews aren’t anybody’s idea of a fun pastime, so the less you dance around the information you’re supposed to be giving, the more your listeners will appreciate it, and the more likely you’ll be to get a positive response (and the job).
4. Never Procrastinate
It doesn’t matter whether you feel secure in your job or are shooting resumes across the globe, the old adage to never put off ‘till tomorrow what you can do today still rings true. There will almost always be someone in your company who will jump in and solve a problem the minute they see it, and there will always be applicants for your dream job that are promoting themselves right now. If you think you can afford to wait before acting, you may well find yourself waiting for a long time.
5. Never Quit Learning
The world is constantly changing, and those who don’t stay abreast of those changes are doomed to be left behind. Take the initiative to continue your education in your field, and stay abreast of emerging technologies, process breakthroughs, and regulatory initiatives that affect your industry. By doing so, you will continually increase your value to an employer. And just for the record, a resume that shows your commitment to continued growth as a person and an employee is mighty impressive to prospective employers.
There are plenty of other things that you can do to boost your career prospects, and these were just a few. You need to start somewhere, and if you follow these simple tips, you’ll quickly learn about other things you can do to make you a desirable employee, in your current job and throughout your career.
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