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October 30, 2017
How To

How to: Boost and manage your career

Do you cringe at the thought of changing jobs or transitioning to a different career? If so, then you're probably not managing your career or recognizing your professional value.

Your reaction may have more to do with your lack of knowledge of the most effective ways to take charge of your career and less about your lack of interest in exploring a change.

After all, you've been busy at your current job and balancing other life priorities. Plus, you're probably wondering where you should begin.

That question makes it convenient to postpone any action toward a change. Yet exploring options, whether or not you actually make a transition, is a good career-management strategy. Such action can help you understand and articulate your professional value and prevent you from feeling trapped in your current position.

The following eight points reflect today's most effective career management strategies that we emphasize at Heart At Work Associates.

These strategies will help you explore whether a job or total career change makes sense for you, and if so, how to navigate it successfully.

  • Contrary to what most people do, don't begin your exploration by scouring online job postings and job boards with the question "Where do I and my skills fit?" Only 15% of jobs are advertised!

  • Start your inquiry with questions that focus on you and your current life stage: "What work criteria are most important at this time of my life?" and "What topics engage me?"

  • Determine where there are good matches between what you want and what you offer in the marketplace. Initiate and engage in thoughtful informational interviews with people whose job offering interests you and who can provide accurate and current information. Ask questions that will help you determine whether this option is the right choice for you at this time.

  • Once you've identified potential matches, revise your resume to highlight examples of relevant experience, professional development activities and skills. Focus on outcomes and impacts you've made, not just tasks that you have completed. Or, if it's a different career direction, review graduate or training programs that will give you the skills you'll need to make this change. Peterson's Guides are good resources for graduate and professional schools.

  • Create a LinkedIn profile that ranks well in searches for talent with your abilities. Make good use of the LinkedIn headline, summary and skills sections to highlight your background and set you apart from the competition. View LinkedIn as a way to present your professional self and value, rather than a placeholder on a social media site. Our monthly LinkedIn tutorials are very popular among our clients and provide a "10 point" checklist to a savvy profile.

  • Using your LinkedIn connections, including alums on from your college or university, to identify key people with whom you can have a strategic conversation. These focused conversations should address: your current employment status, the skills you want to use in your next position, questions about how these skills are utilized in his/her organization, and suggestions of other people with whom to connect who would add to your knowledge of this job. Heart At Work Associates recommends one to three strategic conversations per week if you are serious about a change.

  • Follow up your strategic conversations with updates from time to time. Let people whom you interviewed know that their recommendations were helpful and in what way.

  • Think about your messaging, make sure that it is consistent and that you are conveying a relevant, professional image through a strong LinkedIn profile, an impact-focused resume and your strategic conversations.

It's likely that you're managing many priorities. These strategies can make your job or career change process as efficient and rewarding as possible.

Use this opportunity to promote your uniqueness as a significant benefit of value to your future employer.

Barbara Babkirk is the founder of Heart At Work Associates, a career counseling and outplacement firm in Portland. She can be reached at barb@heartatworkassociates.com

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