While successful professions often refer to themselves as lucky and say they were just in the” right place at the right time,” this luck is typically the result of careful career planning and management. Luck happens to those who are well-prepared.
Ten important tips for successful career management:
- Take responsibility for managing your career. There are many people happy to help you but you must clearly identify your values, interests, strengths, development areas and goals, and determine the industries and companies of interest to you. You must actively identify and seek opportunities and connections. You must also do your homework to be well-prepared.
- Develop and update a detailed career plan. You need to know where you are going. Think of it as your career GPS.
- Carefully prepare your career marketing collateral (e.g., your resume, cover letters, branding statements, etc.) to distinquish yourself from others. It is important that you invest time and pay careful attention to details in preparing your materials. They represent you in the job market.
- Keep track of your professional accomplishments. This information will be very helpful in updating your resume and throughout the interviewing process. Focus on what you accomplished. Ask yourself how the company was better off because you were there. Don’t build a laundry list of responsibilities. Accomplishments are much more powerful.
- Build and maintain meaningful professional relationships. Most jobs are filled through networking. Request and conduct information interviews and stay in touch with your contacts, helping them whenever you can and keeping them informed about your career. This is not about building the longest list of LinkedIn connections but about forming meaningful relationships.
- When looking for full-time work, set aside time each day to focus on your job search. Spend most of this time meeting with others to learn about companies , roles, and industries of interest to you. Spend much more time meeting with people than searching job boards.
- Join and actively participate in professional associations. This will help others connect you to your career of choice and will give you valuable leadership experience. It also helps you develop important professional relationships outside your current organization. Most associations also have their own job postings for members.
- Identify a mentor and nurture that relationship. Mentors should have more experience that you have so you can benefit from their insights. Look for opportunities to give back and add value for your mentor. Be open to at least consider the advice they offer.
- Do not wait until you have an offer pending to identify and contact your references. Be sure to ask their permission in advance, brief them on the position and update them on your career accomplishments since they worked with you. Keep your references posted on your progress in your search.
- Treat everyone you encounter in this career journey with respect and courtesy. Listen carefully and demonstrate sincere interest and caring. You never know who will be asked for input in the decision making process.
Many people spend more time planning their vacations than they do planning their careers. Vacations are all too brief but we participate in our careers for years. Invest your time and energy in management your career to ensure your success.