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Know Your Worth: Taking Control of Your Professional Development

Illustration of job search concept

Looking for a new job or branching out into a new career can be a job within itself. While searching for new opportunities can lead you to plenty of open doors it can be overwhelming to go through the job searching process, the hiring process, and starting over somewhere new.

The process can be intimidating and choosing comfort over the unknown is the easier option but if you find yourself outgrowing your position or are just ready for something new, exploring the unknown is necessary. Still, you do not need to walk into it unprepared.

Proper Career Management is Power

Taking the time to manage your career from the start is a key way to take control of your professional development. Having control of your career can help you never feel stuck in a job that does not benefit you and give you confidence when you are ready to make a change. Career management also supports continuous learning, better work-life balance, maintaining a competitive edge, and overall career satisfaction.

Practicing proper career management can look like:

Creating a Plan

Even though we cannot predict or control any future events that happen in our careers, creating a plan can at least give you a clear idea of where you would like to go. Avoid creating a career plan based on how much you can make but instead focus on what can develop your career and give you the job satisfaction you need. Focus on what industry you see yourself in, figure out what kind of projects you can see yourself working on and what professional passions excite you.

Also, explore your strengths, professional needs, interests, and aspirations. Once you determine your long-term goals, break them down with short-term actions like skill-building classes, on-the-job training, trusted guidance, and finding organizations or positions that align with your professional needs.

Measuring Your Progress

Once you create your plan, create a timeline as well for the milestones you want to reach. This not only keeps your career plan on track but can help motivate you to reach your professional goals and you can celebrate once you do meet them. You can also add when you exactly met these goals so that you can evaluate your accomplishments and get insight into how you are developing and performing. Something seem off? Revisit both your career plan and timeline and adjust as needed.

Embracing Constructive Criticism

Hearing honest feedback is not always positive but having the ability to listen and adjust accordingly is one way to elevate your career. Ask feedback from your supervisors or team leaders, and request feedback on your performance, effectiveness, collaboration skills, and leadership qualities. If you cannot come up with a strategy to help you meet and exceed expectations on your own, work with your advisors or supervisors to help create and apply the necessary changes.

Considering a Recruiter

There are plenty of organizations that use staffing agencies to fill their vacant spots, so working with a recruiter can be helpful in your job search and help you meet your overall professional needs.

A key to a recruiter working with you is communicating openly with them and building a working relationship with them. Tell them your career plan, timeline, your goals, and professional needs and they will help find a company that meets those needs. Also, stay in contact with them through all steps, even after hiring. A good relationship with a recruiter who already knows what you want out of your professional development can also be a great advantage if you are seeking a career change sometime in the future.

Not Limiting Yourself

There are plenty of ways to easily become limited in your career. From not taking the opportunity to polish up your skills to not networking yourself properly, it can be an easy path to fall just short enough that you feel stalled.

Avoid limiting yourself by:

  • Enhance your current skills and learn new skills when you can
  • Networking yourself properly
    ○ Do not be afraid to attend in-person networking opportunities while also utilizing online networking opportunities
  • Always be willing to learn more
    ○ New skills, new technologies, take on new roles or responsibilities, etc.
  • Keep your professional social media sites updated
    ○ Social media plays a huge role in the networking and hiring process with over 80% of people finding their jobs online
    ○ Make sure all your info on any of your professional social media sites is current and reflects who you are professionally
  • Participate in opportunities that support your professional development and advancement
  • Use the right tools and utilize the resources
    ○ Developmental workshops, seminars, skill-building exercises, etc.

Knowing When To Move On

Before you find a new job, you must know you are ready for something new. Now there can be several factors that could lead to a decision to leave an organization or position you have been in – some in your control, some out of your control. If you are experiencing any of the following, it could be time to brush up on your resume and start the hunt.

  • Your current organization/position offers little to no flexibility
  • Your workplace does not give you the resources to do your job well
  • Your work performance is starting to suffer
  • You feel you have learned everything you can
  • There is no room or opportunities for career or personal advancement
  • Your workplace/coworkers/leadership team is toxic
  • You are ready for a new position or career change
  • Your pay is not increasing/you are being denied a raise
  • It seems like layoffs could start happening
  • Your current organization has no financial stability or plans for the future
  • You feel burnout
  • You have no work-life balance
  • You do not feel like your voice or work matters
  • You actively look for ways to avoid your job
  • Your mental or physical health is being affected
Stressed business woman putting her head in her hand

Job Hunt With Ease

Now, you have career management down and you know it is time to leave a job, it is time to face the hard part, finding a new job. Above we talked about utilizing recruiters and not limiting yourself, while those are great for career management, they are also important for job hunting. In addition to those, there are plenty of tips and tricks to help make the process easier on yourself including:

Revisiting your Resume

Having a solid resume and cover letter are important parts of finding a job, essentially these are your employer’s first impression of you unless they found you on social media first. Make sure your information is correct and up-to-date and be sure to articulate what makes you a great working professional and highlight your strengths and skills. If you are applying for a variety of pistons, tailor your resume and cover letter to include the specific responsibilities and qualifications of the job you want.

Refining Your Search

Anything can seem overwhelming when it’s at the tip of your fingertips and sometimes job searching can be the same. While it is beneficial for virtually all jobs to be posted on the internet, you are left sorting through all the jobs on the internet.

You can easily refine your searches by:

  • Taking on one job title at a time
    ○ Use variations of that common job titles to ensure you see all available positions
  • Utilize filters that can separate things by:
    ○ Job type
    ○ Permanent or contracted
    ○ Full-time or part-time
    ○ Location
    ○ Salary
  • Search by organization/industry specifically

Building Your Network

Networking is about relationship building and having a network of contacts related to your industry in your arsenal can lead you to find a new job before it’s even posted. Make sure you put in the work to get to know people and allow people to get to know you. Take advantage of professional social sites or in-person networking events and always be willing to meet more people, the larger the network the more opportunities that could be presented.

Apply, Apply, Apply

Do not be afraid to apply for jobs you are underqualified or overqualified for. Many organizations are still feeling the effects of COVID-19 and have posts that need to be filled. In addition to open spots, several businesses changed the way they hire, opening the door to a variety of new people. If you believe you have the skills, drive, and passion to make the position happen, apply for it.

Sending Follow Up Emails

Whether you just applied or have an interview, sending a follow-up email for any round of the hiring process can not only help the interviewer remember you but reinforce your interest in the position you applied for. Now follow-up emails are not mandatory but typically when they are executed you:

  1. Send them within 24 hours
  2. Mention the specific job
  3.  Express gratitude
  4. Should be short and to the point