How to Think Strategically About Your Career for the New Year

New Year's resolutions listedWith New Years’ fast approaching, you may be thinking about those pesky resolutions. If one of them is to make a change in your career, but you’re struggling to come up with an achievable, fulfilling resolution, here’s a few of our favorite ideas to help get that Resolution Engine running again:

Develop Leadership Skills By Volunteering - If you wanted to volunteer more anyway, you could kill two birds with one stone. Book-learning isn’t going to cut it when it comes to gaining true leadership experience. But don’t only volunteer at the soup kitchen. You can potentially make a big impact by volunteering for the board of a nonprofit you admire. Boards of directors provide strategic and financial leadership to ensure each organization’s vitality, integrity, and mission fulfillment. Make the most of your time on the board with these tips. (Also, here’s a quick 10 Point Test of Leadership).

Want That Promotion? Stretch Yourself. - You may be gaining more experienced, but your skills have probably plateaued if you’re not taking the time to “deliberately practice” new skills. Success in a career requires more than simply showing up early, staying late, and responding quickly to every email. True standouts systematically develop rare and valuable skills. But building these skills requires practice, which isn’t something that most people seek naturally. Follow these tips to turn your training brain back on. (Related: How to Master a New Skill)

Consider Treating Your Life Like a Grand Experiment - Maybe you’re looking to take the next step forward in your career. But staying with one company for decades and steadily working your way up the career ladder is gone, replaced by a much more difficult ascent to the top. All hope is not lost, it just means realigning your thinking about your career trajectory. Here’s our advice on how to envision the next steps in your career. (Related: Defining Your Life’s Goal)

A Step By Step Guide to Landing Your Dream Job - Yes, job hunting is still a miserable experience. Just remember, as much as it seems like you’re the only one going through it, misery loves company (even if they’re on another laptop hundreds of miles away). Part one of our guide focuses on knowing your strengths – and recognizing your Kryptonite. You also want to find the right work environment. (For more guidance, you can read part two here.)

Where Do You Look For Jobs Online? - If you’re looking for new work, and would prefer working for a small business, you might be looking in the wrong place. Here’s our advice for job seekers trying to stay up to date. Hint: you might want to take a brief jaunt into the recent past. (Also make sure you’re digitally approachable).

How to Send an Interesting Interview Follow-Up Note

Soreaching candidates you landed the interview, did your company research, had great rapport with the hiring manager and breezed through the interview questions.  You gave a proper, firm handshake, and left the interview feeling pretty good about yourself. Then they didn’t call you, or a month went by…and they turned you down. What gives?

You should have written a follow-up note. Maybe you did, but it was a waste of their time, because it offered nothing useful, and was the exact note they’ve seen 1000 times before, so they hit delete without even looking at the name. Sending a follow-up note is expected. You’re not leaping ahead of the pack by sending one, you’re still in the middle of the pack. Hey, at least you’re not the sickly, limping straggler anymore, right?

If you want your follow-up note to shine, and really make a good impression on your potential employer, you need to offer some additional value to your potential future employer. And if you need some advice on how to do so, check out this excellent article - page two even has an email template for you to start with. By showing your willingness to help solve a problem for their company, even before an offer is extended, you’re bound to make a good impression. That was the whole point of your note, right?

 

How To Get Help From Busy People

frustrationVery few people know how to grab the attention of a busy person. As a recruiter, I get dozens of emails a week from job seekers, and daily requests to connect on LinkedIn. 99% of my LinkedIn inbox requests are the standard invitation, “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

Don’t do that. Sending the generic LinkedIn invite is a terrible idea.

Now, I’m in the business of placing people, so I’ll still make the connection, but lots of other busy people won’t. That’s why I loved a recent article about how to get important people to respond to your emails. It’s a great read, filled with six common-sense and easy to follow bits of advice that should start helping you today. If you want your email or LinkedIn invitations read – and more importantly, responded to – read it.

So if you want help from a busy person:

  • Get to the point.
  • Provide some context.
  • Explain what you want specifically and succinctly.
  • Thank them.
Once you’ve made a connection, cultivate it. If email won’t cut it and you need to make a phone call, the advice in this article will keep you on track – try to keep it under 15 minutes.

How to Network Mutually Beneficially

Networking is likely the route to your next job… It’s more personal than applying on a stark job board, and it may help you find out about opportunities that aren’t openly advertised.

So is networking a good thing? Definitely. But there are ways to do it properly (and effectively) and ways that are just a waste of your time.

Luckily, the experienced Jeff Haden gives us 5 great networking tips. Here are my 3 favorites:

  1. Give before you take. Of course you want something; you want their help. But the trick is: “never ask for what you want.” By giving your expertise and your help, you can establish a real, solid, meaningful relationship. A relationship will make them want to help you, not just an annoying person asking for help.
  2. Don’t assume they care about your needs. You’re out of work and you need a job – that’s your problem, not theirs. Haden says “the only way to make connections is to care about the needs of others first.” Show them you care about them, and then maybe they’ll care about you afterall.
  3. Network where it’s mutually beneficial. Yeah, having the top executive connect with you would be great, but the way to actually make a helpful connection is to find someone who can benefit from your expertise – and vice versa. So that you can follow up on #1 and #2… make a relationship that goes both ways.

Asking for Career Advice

You don’t have to do this job search alone. There are people and resources that can help you, whether it’s proofreading a cover letter, giving resume advice, writing recommendations, etc.  The tricky part is: those helpful resources are really busy too.  So how can you ask for career advice – and receive it – while making it easy (and enjoyable) for them to do? MarketMyCareer.com believes the key is to “be very specific”.  Sweet, short, and to the point is more likely to get you a response than something that takes them a while to read and figure out a reply.

  • Be specific with them about what type of position you’re looking for: company size, geographical location, industry, etc.  More specifics will actually help them come up with a contact faster than being open-minded to any position.
  • Ask very specific questions.  You’re more likely to get a fast email or phone call response if the questions you ask are succinct.
  • Give them a time frame to respond.  If you need an answer immediately, tell them that so they can prioritize it.  If it can wait, let them know.

10 Great Books for Career Changers

Give the Gift of Possibility:

Wondering what to buy the job hunter on your list, or the retiree looking for what’s next? (Or, do you want advice on what is next for you in your career change?)

Consider one of these best selling books:

How Parents can Help Their Kids Job Search

This blog is usually addressed to the jobseeker him/herself, but today we’re going to make a little change and address it to the parents of jobseekers.  Parents, you’re probably wondering how you can help your children find a job in this crazy economy.  Especially if your child is a recent graduate, they may find it incredibly difficult to land their first real job.  So how do you help your child find a job?  Lee Miller from New Jersey Business has some great suggestions for helping your children become more independent and more likely to land a job.  Here are a few:

  • If you let your children move back in with you, hold them accountable to paying rent and doing household chores.
  • Encourage them to volunteer a few days a week – it’s a great way to teach responsibility and work skills, but it’s also good for boosting their resume and meeting networking contacts.
  • Providing structure for their job search – Telling them specific blocks of time where they should be job hunting, and a quiet space they can use to do the hunting.
  • Stay back.  Helping your child is ok, but taking control of their job search is not actually helping at all.  Lee Miller cautions that over-involved parents will actually hinder the search.  This is your child’s job; let them make mistakes and learn from them.
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