We've heard the stories before. A sudden life change or layoff forces a professional to shift gears and suddenly they're faced with hours of legwork updating their resumes and trying to define themselves as a professional, before even starting the job search.
What if it didn't have to be this way? What if you had been putting in the legwork all along?
Even when you're happy and content in your career, you should be putting contingencies in place for how you'd handle a job loss or a need to make a sudden change. This is where career "me time" comes into play.
If professionals would take some time every few months to focus on and track where they are as a professional, they would be in a better position to adapt, or take advantage of, any sudden career change.
So, you may be wondering, "How do I make the best use of my career 'me time?'" Here are a few ideas!
Continually Track Your Professional Skills And Accomplishments
Whether it's in a notebook, journal, or saved on a computer, professionals should keep a running list of their skills, quantifiable work accomplishments, and awards and recognition.
You may be asking, "Isn't that what my resume is for?"
Not everything fits on a resume and the skill sets and quantifiable accomplishments you list will vary depending on the particular job you're seeking.
By keeping a running list of this information, it's a lot easier to pick and plug what you need into a resume, which makes resume writing a little easier. In addition, we're all busy people and forget things. When you frequently update your running list of professional skills and accomplishments, you do so while it's fresh in your mind and ensure things don't fall by the wayside.
Another benefit of frequently tracking all of this is that it allows professionals to take consistent inventory of their best and most important skill set. You may have acquired over 100 great skills over the course of your career, but ultimately it comes down to proving that you have the 8-10 needed for a particular job.
Plan And Prepare For Professional Growth Opportunities
Promotions and career growth opportunities don't usually just fall into a person's lap. It often comes down to good preparation and a proactive approach.
When professionals take some time to step back and frequently assess where they are, it becomes a lot easier to put themselves in a position to make a move. For example, simply ask yourself, "What do I want to do next?"
If you're shooting for a promotion, take the time to evaluate what additional responsibilities come with the job and if you have the required skills. If you do, you can prepare your case for promotion before the job even becomes open. Talk about being proactive!
If you don't, this is an opportunity to assess the skills your lacking and putting together a plan for obtaining those skills. In some cases, it may be as simple as taking on some new responsibilities at your current job. In other cases, you may need to look into online courses or certification programs.
It's a lot better to be proactive now than to realize when the promotion opportunity comes up that you're not qualified.
All of this information also comes in handy when you're going through a performance review or having a career discussion with your boss.
Manage Your Personal Brand And Networking Efforts
One of the worst things that any professional can do is only rely on their network when they're in need. Those who do this find themselves scrambling when they're on the job hunt, asking for favors from professional acquaintances that they haven't spoken to in years.
The key is to offer value to your network when you're happy and confident in your career. Then, if you do find yourself in a career bind, you're more likely to find connections willing to help you or make a referral.
It's important for all professionals to pause from time to time to evaluate their networking strategy and think of ways they can offer more value to their networks.
There are many ways to offer value, but one of the best ways is offering value by leveraging your personal brand.
You can leverage your personal brand and offer value by focusing on a few areas of professional expertise and experience, building content around those experiences, and sharing that content online with your professional network and others.
The content can be an article, short social post, or video, it doesn't matter. You never know what people are going through or looking for in their careers. Sometimes the smallest insight or personal experience can have the greatest impact.
The best part about this strategy is that it allows professionals to share their knowledge as value while signaling to their network how they want to be viewed as a professional.'
Using some occasional downtime to map out your personal branding and networking strategy is essential to career success.
The Key To An Efficient And Winning Job Search
Assessing skills and accomplishments, planning for career growth, and personal branding and networking are important at all steps of the career journey.
Professionals who focus on these areas not only have a leg up while building their careers, but it also gives them an advantage when they face a setback and are forced to find a new job. Since they've been taking the necessary steps all along, these professionals can efficiently build their job search strategy and execute it because much of the legwork is already done.
By using some spare time to focus on and assess where you are as a professional, you can set yourself up for current, and future, career success.
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