Jayne Mattson is Senior Vice President at Keystone Associates, a leading career management and transition services consulting firm in Boston.
Professionals who are in careers today will change jobs much more frequently than in previous generations. Therefore, you need to be prepared and proactive in managing your career. But does this mean you have to sacrifice in other areas of your life that are important to you? Our lives are busy enough balancing work and family without having to find time for making major career changes as well. The tips below provide you some solid strategies to achieve your career goals.
1. Resume and LinkedIn Profile Maintenance
Write down your accomplishments from the past year. This will help you identify your market worth. Keeping track of these accomplishments will help you in review and bonus time. You probably already know this, but always keep your resume and LinkedIn profile up to date. This will keep you visible in the job market with recruiters or hiring managers.
2. Set up Lunchtime Conversations With Influencers
Connect with the shakers and movers within your organization to develop mutual relationships; if a special project or a higher position opens up, they will be more likely to think of you. Your internal company network is important to your career success. Create a list of people within the organization whom you know personally and professionally and ask to have lunch or a phone or Skype conversation for career advice, information sharing, or just to get to know them better. Remember, it is not what you know, but who you know, that will help you get ahead.
3. Remember to Network
Network face-to-face with one to three people each month outside the company to stay connected to your industry and to develop your networking skills. Identify 10 people whom you lost touch with and with whom you would like to reconnect. Reach out to them, perhaps indicating that one of your 2013 goals is to keep your network active. When you meet with the people in your network, bring something to the table and be sure you are offering value. Also, always be willing to ask them to connect you to others they know.
4. Attend Industry Events
Join your industry professional associations and attend monthly events. Meetup.com, Eventbrite and other online communities are great places to find industry groups that are relevant to you. Find out the dates and times, put them in your calendar and try not to schedule meetings too close to the event, so you will have enough travel time. Bring information to share with your colleagues.
5. Keep Your Image Professional
Update your look with accessories, clothes, hair and eyeglasses to reflect a polished professional image. Keeping an updated look is essential for initial impressions. One new piece of apparel can update your look, if you’re not one to shop every single season. On the other end of the spectrum, be cognizant that dressing too trendy can be unappealing in a professional setting. Use the rule of thumb of looking in the mirror to see if you need to eliminate one accessory.
6. Schedule Quarterly Meetings
Set up quarterly meetings with your boss to stay on track with your professional development. Since you need to be the leader in managing your career, you need to take the initiative to set up routine times to conduct professional development meetings. In these meetings, ask your boss what his or her expectations are for your department and position over the next quarter, and if there are ways you could improve from the previous quarter — sometimes, it’s necessary to take initiative to get the constructive criticism you need. If your boss is not in your office, recommend using Skype, which is a great way to build a more solid relationship.
7. Review Career Goals
You need to manage your own expectations for yourself, too. Mark your calendar six months out for a review of career goals and make adjustments if necessary. Staying on top of your career goals and periodically reviewing those helps you measure your progress, successes and evaluate the feasibility of accomplishing your remaining goals.
8. Read Industry Books
Read Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People or Keith Ferazzi’s Never Eat Alone. Both books reinforce building relationships inside and outside your organization, which is the key to career success. They stand the test of time and capture human interaction and how to master it — the only thing that has changed is the vocabulary. Buy either of these relationship building books on tape, which can ease a public transit commute and help you to develop better skills.
What tips can you recommend to achieve your career goals? Let us know in the comments.
Image via istockphoto, fotosipsak