Nightingale
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Nightingale

3 Tips on How to Get Your Next Job

There is only one thing standing between you and a successful career: You.

In 2007 I was a college drop-out making a living as a credit analyst, which is misleading with “analyst” in the title. It’s a fancy term for someone who collects money from others with the occasional use of Excel. During this time, I recognized I needed to make a job change, and data visualization was new to the job market. My options were slim, money was tight, and I wasn’t feeling hopeful about my future.

Fast forward to today where I write software-specific learning plans on data visualization. I listen to my customers and create step by step guides on how to achieve their goals through education. The special sauce for creating learning plans is researching who the personas will be consuming them, and what the personas already know.

It’s sort of like individuals looking to change careers. It’s easy to provide a plan in those circumstances on how to achieve career goals, but that’s all it is — a plan. Regardless of direction, or how detailed the plan is, a successful career is going to come down to one thing.

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Careers are personal. Why? Most of us spend more waking time at work and with co-workers than we do with our own families. For this reason alone, your career should resonate with who you are as a person. If you are thinking about changing jobs, the only person who can make it happen is one person, you.

1. Take Advantage of Opportunities

To execute a career plan takes a certain amount of risk tolerance. You will be accepting unplanned change, and this will disrupt your day to day life. Ask yourself if you are ready for change. If yes, the first step is to identify existing opportunities. Recognizing an opportunity can be difficult, especially when buried in career unhappiness. Yet, it could be your current job that will lead to your next opportunity. What tasks are you doing today that will contribute to your next job?

For me, the opportunity existed in learning advanced Excel and report creation. At the time, these skills were on par with the growing trend of analytics (remember, this is circa 2007). My initial intent was to find a better job, but instead, I found a career. By incorporating my new skills into my job, I was able to build up my resume without changing positions.

2. You Gotta Move it, Move It

It’s not enough to identify opportunities if you aren’t going to act on the identified opportunity. Again, that risk tolerance. You are going to have to move it, and by it, I mean jobs. After changing my resume, I knew my next step was finding a position where I could put my skills to work. Luckily for me, I was able to find a role as a business analyst at my employer, but this isn’t always the case. Be prepared to look outside of your employer, especially if they don’t promote your growth. If you aren’t sure if your employer fits that description, take a step back, and ask yourself:

a) Is there an opportunity to grow and learn new skills in your current employer?

b) Will you be recognized for your new skills by your current employer?

c) How long will it take for points a and b to happen?

If you’re struggling to answer any of the points, it may be time to start looking elsewhere. Many people leave companies they’ve worked at for years — myself included. Unless your employer supports a culture of career growth, you may need to go to advance.

To quote Semisonic (and Seneca), “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

3. Rinse, Repeat

The formula is simple: learn new skills and find a way to use them. Keep learning new skills and keep using them. Apply the skills in existing roles or finding a new position that will allow you to. A couple of areas that will help you flesh out your resume and give it more panache:

Certifications

Certifications are a great way to prove you know what you’re talking about if they come from the source. If you are taking certification tests from some unknown website nobody has heard of it, it’s not going to help. Go straight to the software manufacturer and earn their certification tests. Add it to your resume. Brag the Hell out of it.

Portfolio Building

It’s not enough to have certifications anymore, either. You’re going to have to prove you know what you’re doing. Start building a shareable portfolio. Shareable doesn’t mean it has to be a public portfolio. I love using Adobe products for building out a framework to house my collection. It doesn’t matter where you create your content, as long as it exports to a PNG or JPEG file. After, I can upload it to my Adobe website (there is a monthly subscription fee). It’s up to you what tools you use for your portfolio, as long as you have one.

Network the Hell out of it.

Go to meet-ups, conferences, or any user group that supports your skills growth. Networking at meet-ups is a new way of doing business. By meeting new people, you may encounter a person who could help land your next gig. If you’re someone not used to talking to strangers, it is a skill worth practicing (even with your pets). Introverted people find social media is an excellent way to talk to others in their network. There are many professional groups on social media, like LinkedIn or Twitter. Either way, make a concerted effort to get out there and talk to people.

These three tips will help get you started toward a new career path. If anything, I hope they give you something to think about if you aren’t sure about what to do next. Say yes to yourself and start moving today.

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Sarah Nell-Rodriquez

Sarah Nell-Rodriquez

Technical education expert in software and analytics. Believer in propagating kindness in life. Doer of good. Maker of food. Mother of cats.

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