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.
To help you transition into a career that inspires and motivates you, I’m sharing below some tips from my book: “CAREER SMART – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand” (which is now on Amazon’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books)…
- Send the “right” messages.
Everything you do and say sends messages to your senior managers, clients, peers, networking contacts and potential employers. Your words, actions, presentations, reports and work deliverables all shape the perceptions others have about you.You influence people through your actions and your words so make sure both are in synch. Send a crystal clear message that focuses on the that you consistently deliver to a company or client. Your “value” is a unique blend of your strengths, professional accomplishments, and personal characteristics such as being a good leader, risk taker, problem solver, strategic thinker, etc.
All of these things combined make up your “value package” which makes you truly unique from a crowd of colleagues, business associates, and even job applicants.If you’re currently working with a company and you’d like to stay there, then you may want your message to be that you deliver high quality and results. For example, if you’re in sales then your message should be that you consistently generate revenue. If you’re a creative director then your message should be that you consistently develop fresh campaigns that increase sales.Take every opportunity to send your value message through project updates, status reports, presentations, hallway conversations, business networking events, in your resume, and in your interviews. Talk about the results or the success of the projects and teams you’ve led, or the benefit they added to the company like generating more revenue, saving costs, or making the company be more competitive. If you want to be seen as a problem solver then talk about the challenges that your team overcame, and the key lessons that you’ve learned.
The key is to role model the “value” that you provide by consistently demonstrating it, living it and breathing it.
- Go for the “High Value” Projects
Getting on the right projects and delivering strong results is the single most effective way to boost your personal brand. That means aggressively going after those projects that generate money, save costs or make the company more competitive.Just like everyone else, you have 8-10 hours a day at work. Now, you can either spend those hours parceling out your time in bits and pieces working on a variety of tasks and assignments, or you can concentrate your efforts on making major contributions that generate BIG results.
Consider where you can make the biggest impact for your organization and aggressively go after those assignments. Successful professionals don’t leave it up to their managers and senior leaders to drop plum projects in their lap. They drive their career by volunteering for, or even creating, projects that make the biggest impact.
- Get into a career where you can thrive (not just survive!)
It’s impossible to have a powerful personal brand if you’re just going through the motions at work. If you’re walking around dull and listless (like the Clairol Herbal Essence girl before she shampoos her hair), then others are sure to see you that way. You need to be in a career that challenges you, flexes your professional muscles, and excites you!Think about what kind of work you want to be doing. Start by identifying the three key ingredients you need in the work itself to be happy and fulfilled such as leading teams, working on creative projects, developing new technologies, etc. Once you’ve defined the three key ingredients, then do whatever it takes to drive your career towards that vision.