It’s a tough job market right now, and if you’re looking for your next career opportunity – then I have three (3) strategies to help you change your career faster…
1. Keep yourself marketable. If you’re looking for a new job, then use your “in-between” time to get any training or education you may need. Job requirements can change over the years. Industries can change. So make sure you stay current with the demands of the market by assessing your skills and qualifications with what the market is demanding. Most industries have a kind of license or certification that’s highly valued – such as project management certification, marketing certification, financial planning licenses, and so on. So keep yourself marketable by staying current with required training and education.
Another strategy for keeping yourself marketable when you’re not working, is to start freelancing or consulting. This shows hiring managers that you take initiative and that you’re considered an expert in your field by others. Also, join an association’s Board of Directors, or at minimum, a committee. These strategies will help keep you visible, expand your network, and boost your resume.
2. Fish where the fish are. In other words, know where your potential employers are. Find out by reading trade magazines, industry publications, company websites and websites that advertise job openings like CareerJournal.com, and CareerBuilder.com to learn which industries are hiring, which companies are hiring, and what the hot jobs are.
You can also learn about companies that are hiring by attending industry conferences, trade shows, business networking events and association meetings. Another good idea is to join professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.com to get connected to industry leaders and company decision makers. Make it a priority to get connected, and stay connected, to people who can inspire you, hire you, or introduce you to others who could potentially hire you.
3. Be a resource to others. When you’re in the market for a new job, you never want to give the impression that you need a job. Instead, you want to be seen as someone who’s a leader, a driver, a mentor to others, and someone who’s resourceful – who knows how to get things done and get results. This is one reason why you want to consult, freelance, or volunteer while you’re in between jobs.
So here’s a tip – instead of sending the message, “I need you to give me a job”, you should send the message, “I’m someone who is resourceful, insightful and has a specific area of expertise.” In other words, “I’m someone YOU should get to know!” This is a major shift in the way others perceive you.
One way you can do that is to send out personal notes with links to cool videos, reports, press releases, or websites that you think might interest them. Another tip is to invite them to business networking events, and introduce them to other movers and shakers in the industry.
The bottom line is that successful professionals are drawn to other successful professionals and those who are resourceful. So get personal with your professional network and show them how you can help them be more successful.
There you have it – three great strategies to help you make an EASIER career change including: keeping yourself marketable, fish where the fish are, and be a resource to others.
If you’re stuck in your career – get professional help! You never want your career to be sitting on shelf longer than it has to – it means thousands of dollars every month in missed income that you should be making! So if you’re not getting results, then invest in some professional advice, like —
a. A Professional resume writer, or
b. An interview coach, or
c. Or a career coach
These are professionals who can accelerate your career change and help you get into a new job faster!
What thought have you given to promoting yourself to career influencers outside your work environment? These are the people in the medium and big rings of your sphere of influence who can potentially help you move into a different role, company or industry.
Here are 5 great ideas for promoting yourself outside an organization.
- Get published. If you have written a report, white paper, or newsletter article to share within your company, try to get it published externally. There are thousands of online newsletters for all kinds of topics and industries and most are avidly seeking contributing authors. If published, be sure to get the link and forward it to your career influencers.
- Become a public speaker. I believe that the single most effective way to strengthen your personal brand is to become a public speaker. Think of ways to get in front of your career influencers and share your expertise.
- Broadcast your message. Almost all cities have at least one television station providing morning and midday news and public affairs programming. Producers look for “hot topics” and experts who can inform and educate audiences on a particular subject. Be proactive and contact these producers in your area. If you are interviewed, be sure to capture the video and stream it on your web site, then send the link to your target audience.
- Teach your message to others. Adult education classes are in high demand at community colleges. Teaching a class gives you extra credibility and you may pick up a few new clients or have the opportunity to do some freelance work.
- Join a board of directors. Many trade associations and civic organizations need industry experts, smart business professionals and creative marketers. Be sure to pick a cause that genuinely drives your passion.
By continuously raising your credibility and visibility within your personal network, you’ll not only strengthen your personal brand and open new doors of opportunities, but you can also create an emotional connection with them that makes them not only want you on their team, but feel they need you.
In a my Developing Your Personal Marketing Plan blog post I briefly discussed the two tracks of your personal marketing plan. Now, I will give you 7 ideas for promoting yourself within your current organization.
- Write regular project reports and status updates. Use project updates, status reports, memos and emails to convey your message. Spend time carefully writing monthly status reports and project updates so they support the fact that you take your position and career seriously and that you consistently deliver your promise of value. Focus on the results of the project, or the goals and milestones that you achieved or helped achieve.
- Write a newsletter article. Teach others about your areas of expertise by writing about it in the company newsletter, on the company’s web site or on the company’s blog. You have knowledge to share with your internal target audience that could strengthen and add credibility to your personal brand. Consider how to package your knowledge so that you can distribute it online.
- Make a presentation. Look for opportunities to present your message in person. Volunteer to give an update on your project or area of expertise at the next staff or management meeting. Consider mentoring or offering an internal class to teach others about your area of expertise.
- Create a new project to showcase your knowledge, skills or signature talents. Is there a project you can work on right now to demonstrate your expertise? If not, then could you create a project to do so? Figure out what you really love to do and make a proposal to a company or client to do it!
- Lead a team or project. An excellent way to raise your credibility is to be seen as a leader. Successfully leading a project or team demonstrates that you know how to meet deliverables, time lines and budget goals, and lead, manage and motivate others.
- Facilitate meetings. Lead a management, department or project meeting, quarterly update meeting, organizational status meeting or annual celebration. More than likely there are many opportunities within your company to facilitate a meeting. Take the first step and tell your manager you would like to volunteer.
- Fill in for your manager. When you manager goes on vacation, is sick or overloaded and cannot attend a meeting who fills in? Ask if it can be you. This is a great way for other senior leaders and department managers to view you at a higher level.
How do you deliver your message to your personal network? In other words, how do you promote your value and accomplishments without overtly bragging and selling yourself in a cheesy, I’m-the-best-thing-since-the-invention-of-cheese-fries kind of way?
Just like successful businesses have marketing plans, you need to develop a personal marketing plan. Your personal marketing plan should include two tracks: internal and external. Internal marketing includes strategies within your current organization; external marketing focuses on promoting yourself outside of the organization.
Depending on your current situation, you may want to have a combination of both tracks or focus on just one. For example, if you are currently employed, but have decided to leave the company in the near future, you may not need to create an internal marketing plan yet. If you like your current company and want to move into a new position, you will want to increase your visibility and build your credibility with colleagues, managers and senior managers so they will champion you for that new role or promotion.
The goal of your marketing plan is to find ways to deliver your message to those who can help you advance your career. By continuously raising your credibility and visibility within your personal network you’ll not only strengthen your personal brand and open new doors of opportunities, but you can also create an emotional connection with them that makes them not only want you on their team, but feel they need you. I will explore ways to promote yourself inside and outside your organization in upcoming blog posts.
Forming strong strategic partnerships with career influencers in four key categories can help strengthen your credibility and elevate your personal brand.
- Those who can evangelize your talents and accomplishments to others. They are your personal public relations representatives who give you visibility and exposure to other career influencers. They spread the good word about your work, accomplishments and the value you provide. They are living testimonials who can recommend you to other managers or clients.
- Those who currently hold, or have had, a position you desire. They can be career mentors or advisors to you providing invaluable advice on the skills and personal characteristics required to be successful in that role. They can offer guidance on your career path, share their steps in reaching that position or give insight into the professional challenges they faced and specific strategies they used to overcome obstacles.
- Those who can teach you a new skill. They are experts in their fields and possess specialized knowledge or experience to help you reach your career goals.
- Those who, just by working with them or being associated with them, can strengthen and add credibility to your personal brand. Simply by sitting on a board of directors with a well-respected industry expert, or reporting directly to someone well positioned in the company, or winning a new client who is admired within the community could give your personal brand a boost.
Now that we’ve discussed what a Sphere of Influence is, let’s talk more about who’s in your sphere of influence. Think locally, nationally and globally. Perhaps there is someone you want to meet who is an author or a conference speaker. Perhaps she is someone in the media, a political figure or a business owner. Think about who might be a good connection, role model or perhaps even a mentor – someone who can help advance your career (or introduce you to others who might advance your career).
As you think about your network of career influencers, analyze your current work environment. Include managers and colleagues who have specific areas of expertise and those who can provide guidance and share information.
Every company has an inside network of influencers who are well positioned within the company. Influencers are easy to spot. They are well respected and usually well liked within the organization. They are movers and shakers, constantly helping to move the organization forward. Others seek out their advice and ask for their suggestions. These are career influencers you should add to your target audience list.
Now think bigger. Who are the influencers in the industry? Attend professional association meetings, industry conferences and business networking events. Meet the members, speakers and those on the boards of directors. Join a committee or the board of directors of an association. The idea is to meet people who are successful in your chosen position or industry. Add them to your target audience list. Find ways to make connections with them to learn about their career paths, obstacles they had to overcome, best practices and key lessons they learned.
The universe is truly amazing. Once you begin identifying these career influencers, you will notice that you begin connecting with all kinds of people who can help advance your career. I really can be supportive and positively influence my career, the universe has connected me with the right people at the right time. I also have many clients who believe they were connected with me in the same way at just the right time.
Please feel free to share in the comments who your career influencers have been throughout your career.
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Interviewing is intimidating, nerve wracking, and can make you feel like you’re two heartbeats away from having a heart attack. You only have one shot at making a great first impression so you need to make sure you’re prepared to give the right answers during your next interview.
And that is so much easier when you know what the interviewer really wants to know about you. So here are five key questions going through your interviewer’s mind…
- Can you do the job?
These questions are usually very black and white. Either you have what it takes to be successful in the position or not. Before the interview, be sure to study the job description so that you fully understand the job requirements.Be prepared to talk about your skills, knowledge, and training that will help you perform the job successfully. The biggest mistake I see job candidates making is talking about their responsibilities, and what they need to focus on are the results and accomplishments they’ve achieved for their previous employers.
- What “extras” do you bring?
For most job openings, a hiring manager knows about 90% of the work that the new employee will be responsible for, but not the remaining 10%. That is because they want to know, What can you (the new employee) ADD to the position?So before you go into a job interview, think about any additional skills and talents that you can bring to the position.
- Where are you at risk?
Every new employee is a risk to a company. Whether it’s a specific job requirement that you don’t meet, or potentially being overqualified for the position, or a potential health risk, etc. So, spend some time thinking about where you are a risk.
I like to beat the interviewer to the punch by stating where I’m a risk and then reassuring her why it won’t be a problem. For example, if the job requires that you need to know of a specific type of software, then I want you to sign-up for some training before your interview so that you can say that you’ve already registered for some training to learn more about the software.
The point is that you need to be able to discuss the area(s) where you are a risk, and then immediately follow-up with what you’re doing to close the gap.
- Does the interviewer like you? Will you fit in with the corporate culture?
This is an area that you really cannot take personally. Either the culture and the team are a good fit for you, or they aren’t. And believe me, it’s better to know up front during the interview, than to have a pit in your stomach every day as you walk into your new office.I once interviewed with a Sales VP at a television station. After 1 1/2 hours of interviewing, I really couldn’t tell if he wanted to hire me or not, so I simply asked, “Do you think I would be a good fit with your team?” He told me that he didn’t think so because he allows his team to vent, kick the garbage can and curse like sailors in the office. I appreciated his candor because the reality is that I would not be happy or successful in an environment like that.During your next interview, be prepared to discuss your professional style and work ethics.
- Will you be able to work out the compensation/benefits package?
Be prepared to talk about a salary range that is acceptable to you. I do not recommend giving an exact salary since the benefits package almost always includes room for negotiating vacation days, stock allowance, bonus payouts, perks, etc. But you should be prepared to give a salary range that you would accept.
Those are 5 questions that your interviewer really wants to know about you! It’s not everything you should do to prepare for an upcoming interview – but it’s a good start!
If you have an upcoming interview I advise you to get professional help and meet with an interview coach! Someone who can continue giving you deeper, smarter interviewing strategies and who can fully prepare you so that you’ll ace your next interview and beat out your competition.