By Melanie Burm, Director of External Affairs, Scottsdale Community College
Regardless of where you are along your career journey, it is imperative to remain relevant in the workplace. Job changes occur - some are voluntary and others are not. But taking a proactive approach will poise you well for potential opportunities for advancement or an unexpected job search.
1. We have all heard the saying, it’s all about who you know. So, who do you know? Who should you meet? Who do you already know that might be able to connect you to that key person you want to meet? Cultivating your network is key. And your network should extend to include your neighbors, your friends’ friends, those you meet while at professional AND social events, etc.
Social media makes networking a cinch these days. If you haven’t already done so, take some time to establish your profile on LinkedIn, for example. This professional tool is used around the globe as a universal professional connector. If you aren’t already using it, someone you may be competing with for that promotion or new job may be and that will give them the advantage.
2. From another famous cliché, knowledge is power. And it’s true. Think about what you already know – and consider where you may have potential gaps. Does your employer offer on-site training or skill building opportunities? If so, TAKE THEM! Not only do you expand your knowledge base but you also can practice networking (see #1!). Check out an online learning platform like ASU’s Continuing Professional Education platform; it offers a variety of courses and programs that will help you upskill in a relatively short period of time. Consider pursuing a certificate program or stackable credentialing programs to add to your expertise areas. Knowledge IS power so soak it up and learn whatever you can to help remain relevant in your current field or as you consider entering a new one.
3. Write your story. This is true regardless of whether you are considering a promotion or a new role. Take time to think about how you got to where you are. Figure out what parts of your story really promote your path or what you really enjoyed along the way. Think about the failures you’ve encountered (we all have them – better to embrace and learn from them then let them define us!) and translate them into learning opportunities. At first your story may be lengthy – or it may be in bullet points – either approach is fine. Your story is to be celebrated! However, you will want to refine it, pick out the pieces that stand out or that you keep going back to with pride – they will become part of your self-promotion. Create your proverbial elevator pitch – that 30-second commercial that you might share with someone on the ride up or down in an elevator – using the best parts of your story. Be comfortable with it. Tell it to a friend or family member – see how they respond to it and consider incorporating any feedback they provide.
Self-promotion does not come easy for many of us. But if you have your ‘story’ and you are able to tell it efficiently and effectively, it will help set you apart from the competition.
4. Time to do some research! What is it you would like to do if change is upon you? Do you enjoy what you are or have been doing? Are you ready to consider new experiences? Is it a combination? The internet has given us instantaneous access to exploration of career choices, industries and fields of work, employment trends, salary ranges, organizational cultures and overviews, as well as so much more. Take some time to do research on what’s out there and see what resonates most with you. Look at reviews other people have published about their role or their company – recognizing they are based (primarily) on someone’s opinion so should be regarded as such. Take time to do the research to see what else is out there, how it compares to your experiences and interests, and if it inspires you to take a leap out of your comfort zone.
5. BE OPEN TO OPPORTUNITY! Whether to that promotional opportunity or an unexpected job search, be open to it. Pause for a minute, give yourself the chance to consider the possibilities before taking any action. Talk with a trusted friend or family member to explore the implications of the opportunity. Learn as much as possible about the chance you’ve been given and, not as scientific as you might think, but trust your gut. By opening your mind to possibilities, you will be well positioned to take future opportunities that may not yet exist. Timing is everything yet being open to what