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How to Prepare for Your Next Big Career Move
You’ve reached an impasse at your current job. Your pay and responsibilities aren’t going anywhere, and you’re ready for a new opportunity to grow your career and income. Except for the burning question: What, exactly, does that look like?
To land a new job, you’ll need to perfect your resume and refine your cover letters. But if you think that’s all that goes into a career move, you’re mistaken. In order to be the most competitive candidate, you need a strategic approach to your job hunt. Keep in mind that job hunting is a lot like defining a market when you own a business; you have to know what you have to offer, and be able to provide it without hesitation. Here’s where to start.
Know Your Career Roadmap
There are many opportunities out there for job seekers at all levels, but not all of them are the right fit for you. To identify the opportunities best-suited to your experience and career goals, lay out a roadmap for your career. Think about where you are now and what skills you have to offer, then consider where you’d like to be in five to 10 years. Don’t just examine the expertise you want to develop; consider the culture you want in a company, and seek out organizations with a good cultural fit. Ask the hard questions, and demand honesty from potential employers. After all, issues like ageism and misogyny are still present in today’s workplace, and you don’t want to end up at a company that allows either.
Curate Your Online Presence
A resume lays out your qualifications, but it doesn’t give employers the full picture of who you are. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to showcase how you’re unique. Rather than trying to cram information into your resume and cover letter, use your online presence to define your personal brand.
It’s guaranteed that employers will look at your LinkedIn profileand Google your name to learn more about you. Make sure your social media and personal website reflect your recent work history and that personal profiles show nothing controversial. If search results return hits you’d rather employers not see, contract with a reputation management agency, which can develop blog posts, press releases, and other online content that showcases your accomplishments while pushing negative content further into the search results.
Revitalize Your Network
Your professional network is an invaluable resource in your job hunt. Your network can alert you to opportunities, put in a good word with employers, and get you past the hiring gatekeepers. Ideally, you’ve nurtured your network all along, but if you’ve let connections lapse, renew them now. It’s awkward reaching out after a long period of silence, but it’s better than not reaching out at all.
Stay Abreast of Industry Trends
When you hold a position for a long time, you learn a lot about that particular niche but fall behind on broader industry trends. You’ll need a strong understanding of the changes and challenges organizations face in order to present yourself as an expert in the field, so if your industry knowledge has fallen out of date, spend time on research before launching a job search. Catching up on industry news is a great excuse to reconnect with old networking leads. You can also dig into research reports, industry publications, and influential blogs and social media profiles to find the latest news.
Learn How to Talk About Your Accomplishments — And Failures
Job interviews are full of hard-hitting questions, so make sure you’re prepared to answer them. Articulating career accomplishments with compelling storytelling is important, but be ready to talk about your failures, too. The ability to admit to your failures and show how you’ve grown — without complaining or deflecting blame — shows employers you have the integrity to serve their organization.
Think Outside the Box
Maybe you need more than just a new job, working for someone else. Entrepreneurship is a smart way to reshape your career. It’s loaded with benefits, like setting your own schedule and choosing with whom you work. It’s also loaded with responsibilities, since the buck stops with you.
If you decide to start your own business, make sure you apply the same level of discernment and attention to detail that has served you well in your career so far. In addition to choosing the right name, you’ll need a well-thought business plan, a detailed market analysis, and the right legal structure. The latter can be daunting, but there are online services that help. For a small fee, they’ll walk you through the required steps to register with your state. Once that is done, you’ll be ready for customer zero!
A big career change is a high-stakes move, especially if you have a family. If you dive in unprepared, you could make a bad impression with the very people you’re hoping to impress. Taking these steps before pitching yourself to prospective employers will set your job search on the right track and pave the way for future success.
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