What You Need to Know to Ensure A Successful Career
As both a career coach and a creative thinker, I’m always brainstorming ways to help my clients be successful in their careers with unique and out-of-the-box strategies.
It’s important to be innovative and unconventional when competition for opportunities is fierce.
It’s the only way to get the attention from the right audience (those who have the opportunities to offer) and to stand out from the competition in a good way.
That’s why I’ve shared posts like:
However, there is some career advice that stands the test of time, but only when it’s put into practice.
The problem is, some people still don’t even know about this timeless advice.
And even if they do, they fail to implement it and then wonder why they’re not having the success they’d like to have in their careers.
Don’t be one of these people!
Career Advice That Never Goes Out of Style
To be successful in your career, you have to always work at it, even when you think your job is secure. (Understand that it rarely is!)
So what is the best course of action and best use of your time? Following these career success strategies that never goes out of style!
1. Keep your resume updated every 6 months, even when you’re not looking for another job.
It’s a lot easier to remember what you’ve done in the past six months than in the past six years.
By then it will be nearly impossible to remember how you impacted the company’s bottom line with each project you worked on.
So, every six months, take an inventory of your most recent on-the-job accomplishments.
Ask yourself how each of your duties, ideas, or efforts made an impact on the bottom line.
- Did they increase profit or revenue? By how much?
- Did they decrease spending? By what percentage?
- Did they save man hours? How does that translate to dollars saved?
- Did they increase customer satisfaction or decrease customer complaints? By what percentage?
- Did they make processes more efficient? How much time did this save?
- Did they boost staff morale? How much did productivity increase with this boost?
Add your accomplishments to your resume each time you update it.
If you do this, you’ll be prepared for three possible scenarios:
- When you’re up for a promotion.
- When you’re ready to ask for a pay raise.
- Or when you need to look for a new job.
There have been times when I’ve been asked for a copy of my resume when I wasn’t even looking for a job, like the times I’ve been hired for a speaking engagement.
When that happens, I’m always glad I’ve got something up-to-date to send them.
(For more details on updating your resume, see my post Why You Should Update Your Resume Every 6 Months.)
2. Find a mentor.
You should always pinpoint someone in your industry or company you aspire to be like and get to know and learn from that person.
Also, a mentor is something you can negotiate for when you’re offered a job and are negotiating salary and perks.
Asking for a mentor makes you look good because it shows your initiative to learn. It’s a perk that doesn’t cost the company any additional money, and you’ll gain priceless lessons and advice.
3. Serve on committees that match your interests.
Every company or organization has various committees that need people from different departments to serve on.
Find one that matches your interests and dedicate a reasonable amount of time to it (1 to 4 hours per month).
Doing this will get you out of your daily routine and your everyday surroundings, introduce you to new people in other departments, help you develop your soft skills, and build your resume.
For instance, I have an interest in both sports and international travel.
When I worked in the career center at a university back in North Carolina, I volunteered to serve on a committee that initiated the athletic department’s implementation of the NCAA’s life skills program for college athletes.
I also represented the University of North Carolina’s Exchange Program and served on the Australia Exchange Student sub-committee.
And when I worked in the career center at Vanderbilt University, I partnered with both the Study Abroad Office and the Athletics Department to provide presentations to their students on how to market their unique collegiate experiences to potential employers.
These experiences enriched my career because I got to work with others in areas that fascinated me and I got to develop skills in public speaking and program development.
4. Take advantage of professional development opportunities offered by your employer.
This can include professional association memberships, conferences, in-house professional development programs, etc.
These opportunities also help you build your knowledge, skills, resume, and network.
In fact, there’s a company here in the Nashville that’s hired me to present my program on personal branding to several of their employees.
It says a lot about a company, its culture, and its dedication to the holistic development of their staff to offer such programs to their employees on the company’s dime.
So if your company offers it, take advantage of it of the free self-improvement!
5. Always build your network and maintain professional relationships, even when you’re not looking for a job.
You’ll benefit from professional relationships whether you stay within the same field throughout your career or if you change industries or start your own business.
And because relationship building takes time, the sooner you start building and maintaining your professional relationships, the more your connections will be willing to assist you when you find yourself in need of their help.
But you have to be realistic about networking. While I’ve had some professional relationships that resulted in immediate career benefits, most have taken years of investment and being of assistance on my part before I fully experienced the benefits.
6. Prepare for a layoff, even if you don’t think one will happen
This goes hand-in-hand with #1 and #5.
You don’t want to find yourself suddenly without a job and having to scramble to write a resume because it’s been 15 years since you’ve last had to write one.
And you don’t want to have any awkwardness when reaching out to your contacts because it’s been WAY too long since you last spoke with them.
Instead, you want to always be prepared with the tools needed to find your next opportunity when the need arises.
Other suggestions to prepare for a layoff:
- Always have a few months worth of expenses saved up.
- Develop your transferable skills and your soft skills (i.e. communication skills, presentation/public speaking skills, interpersonal skills, etc.). In fact, in a recent Fast Company article, SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie contends that the soft skill that will get more play in 2018 is curiosity, especially as AI gets smarter.
- Develop the skills of an entrepreneur in case you have to (or desire to) work for yourself for a while.
Yes, it’s easier to be short-sighted and just do your job, focusing on the bare minimum and most immediate items on your to-do list.
But investing time and energy into the above strategies will lead to long-term success in your career and will pay off in spades down the road!