Everyone has their priorities in life as to what needs to be done to keep things running and working at their optimum performance. We get comfortable and put things off but we all have had those circumstances when we wish we would have stuck with the plan. It’s that time that our hard drive gets wiped out that reminds gets us to back up more frequently in the future. It’s that time that someone we know gets a late diagnosis for something that would have been caught in a routine doctor’s appointment that gets us in to get a physical.
This year was a reminder to many with the recent layoffs and downsizing of organizations where professionals who had not needed to look for a job for 10-20+ years were suddenly on the market for new opportunities. The job search climate had changed, many didn’t have resumes and even masters in their field were stumbling in interviews, rushing to create resumes and often confused by the recruiting process. Though Social Media is nothing new the speed in which it has grown this year also has left those late adopters struggling to figure out how to add it into their company or personal career strategy.
Knowing this how do we keep our professional selves maintained? Like anything else we do what the minimum requires but to keep things moving in the right direction I suggest creating a plan or at least looking at where you are currently to allow yourself to incorporate small changes to develop and maintain your professional goals.
Your Resume & Online Presence
Take out the most current resume you have and update it. If you haven’t written a resume in awhile don’t stress yourself out trying to perfect it yourself, look to professional assistance. What inevitably happens if you look to a professional resume writer or work with a recruiter is you spend tons of hours an angst trying to write the perfect words, use the write font, line things up and then we either re-do it in five minutes or rip it apart. Get your basics together in an outline with dates and general descriptions then get help. Seriously, save yourself the anguish, reviewing someone else’s resume is not hard, writing one for yourself is. Whether it’s a professional resume writing service or other sources such as a recruiter (like me) or even career services department at the college you graduated from get help. I think a lot of people forget about their career services for alumni but even 20+ years out they are still usually happy to assist.
Once you have your resume the way you like it, use smaller pieces of this to create your online profile on sites such as LinkedIn.
Once these are done don’t forget to update them. When you publish an article, present at a conference, get a promotion, etc update it on your profiles and your resume. It keeps your profile online fresh and a resume ready at a moment’s notice. The added bonus is usually when you update your profiles online those that you are connected with get an update notice. It’s a great way to keep your network informed of what you are up to. You would be surprised how many more referrals you get in business when you remain fresh in people’s minds.
Keep Your Network Fed and Watered
Again, updating your profile is a good way to keep your network updated but what about your closer important professional contacts? Make a list of those people you would use for references. When is the last time you talked with them or updated them on what you are doing? Try to keep this list updated at minimum every 6 months. One of the things that I have learned as a recruiter is when reviewing a resume I always ask the candidate if they have a list of references and if they have not reached out to them recently. Too many times I’ve had a candidate get through the interview process only to come to the final offer process and find one of their references is hiring for a position or that they know of someone who has a position that is a perfect match already.
Again, update your profiles. Don’t post everything you are doing at work on Facebook but things like a promotion or an article you have published might want to go out to not only your professional network but your personal one as well. Do your friends and family really know what you do for a living? Are you sure?
What would your friends, family, co-workers, references say about you if someone asked what you do? Ask them you might be surprised.
Get Out There
When is the last time you went to a professional conference? If it was more than a year ago, go online, find one and go.
Get out there frequently, network with others in your field or just other professionals in general. Places to look, local organizations, professional associations, conferences, meetup.com, local business journals and publications. It need not be industry specific just get out of the office every once in awhile. Again, the more you find people asking you what you do the easier it will be to explain it in an interview or get the word out there about your career for referrals.
One of the things I often remind my own network is I live near a major city so if they are in town for a meeting or conference, even if I’m not attending I find time to meet up with them. If you are a potential candidate, employer, vendor or colleagues if you are in Philadelphia, give me a call, I’d love to come meet you!
Owning a business is a wonderful thing but one of the things I most miss about working for a larger organization is the continuing education programs. Does your employer have a program for continuing education? Whether it is CE Credits, Conference Fees or reimbursement for classes, it is a missed opportunity not to take part in these benefits.
No costs for events or classes? Think about registering for an adult learning class at your local college or sit in on the endless number of webinars available. (Walton Search offers many free online webinars for job search and social media just go to our events page.)
If you haven’t set up a reader or are unfamiliar with what one does, look at Google Reader or many of the other online services that bring online content to your hands daily. It saves you from reading through stacks of magazines and journals or clicking on multiple web pages to look for new information. Readers bring the news you want to read to you. Take ten minutes a day to sift through updated articles and web pages that relate to what you do for a living.
Like the saying goes that every woman should have a little black dress, every man should have one good navy or dark grey suit. Have your wardrobe ready for two occasions, one semi-casual outfit and one professional outfit. If you do not wear a suit or dress on a regular occasion, clear out your closet once a year and be sure your 2 outfits fit, are still in style and are clean and accessible. The last thing you want to do is have an interview or meeting pop up and have to worry about what to wear.
This is on my own to do list but once a year have an updated photo taken. Your facebook profile, LinkedIn, speaker bio should have an updated photograph. It need not be a professional headshot but something recent and tasteful.
One of the cheapest marketing materials most people can purchase is a business card. When is the last time you updated them? Be sure to update emails, phone numbers and links on your card. Again, it’s a good way to update your network. Give them a new card and remind them what you do.
Get out there; be prepared because work, it is changing. Are you ready?
(original post 11/09)