10 best career development practices for 2013

A continual improvement checklist for those eager to enter the career fray


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A couple of years ago I penned a piece called, “The 10 Best Career Development Practices.” It was well-received and generated a lot of reads. But in the time since it was written I have come to feel that this list needs some slight adjusting.

A combination of more time delivering career development services on my part, along with a growing recognition of the realignment occurring with effective career practices, leads me to revise this list. What follows is my 2013 take on the 10 most advantageous steps a professional person can do to enhance their career.

1. Know your professional value: Conduct a self-assessment resulting in you feeling comfortable, confident and focused about your value proposition. Think of yourself as a subject matter expert with reliable and consistent qualities that sets you apart from the competition.

2. Develop the three capitals: Consistently be involved in building and growing your intellectual, social and emotional capital. This leaves you well-informed, well-connected and energized about your profession. Career growth is a three-legged stool. For balance, work on all three simultaneously.

3. Write a strong resume: The document that most anchors and communicates your value proposition is the resume. Although its primary purpose is to secure an interview, don't forget that its overall marketing potential can be crucial.

4. Prepare intriguing cover letters: Making that first impression is, of course, key. Promoting your own skills while aligning them with the potential employer's needs and following up with a great resume may open the all-important door to an interview.

5. Engage in networking: Yes, who you know and who knows you does matter. The majority of high-quality employment arises from referrals among trusted contacts. The best way to get to a hiring decision-maker is to know them in the first place or know someone else who knows them.

6. Manage an online profile: Recruiters and hiring managers have a tendency to fish where the fish are. If you're not in the pond, then you won't get caught. The Internet is the pool where talent is found and investigated. Additionally, being online helps you to share your brand, build your network and cultivate your professional relationships.

7. Engineer your job search process: Knowing what comprises a truly comprehensive job search involves implementing a complex set of procedures. Understanding what techniques can motivate you and using an organization tool like a career management CRM can make the process much more manageable and successful.

8. Use power statements and a 30-second pitch: When introducing yourself to high-potential professionals, realize their time is tight and attention spans probably short. Making impactful statements that leave you remembered and hopefully valued requires an economic delivery.

9. Conduct informational interviews: A research technique that assists you in building intellectual and social capital is the informational interview. Seeking out and conversing with professionals who can provide useful information you can use in determining the direction of your career is a powerful tactic.

10. Perform well in your job interview: This age-old conundrum is as elusive as ever for many, but it doesn't have to be that way. Preparing without cramming by rehearsing your upcoming performance such that you dovetail your background knowledge with the potential employer's needs is well worth the effort.

You may have noticed that developing a career is an ongoing pursuit not limited to times when you receive a pink slip. It helps to get over the natural, but inhibiting, desire to be complacent with a single job or relatively unchanging career. For those not held back by inertia, but rather eager to enter the career fray, this list of practices should help the career-oriented form a continual improvement strategy.

Bill Ryan, founder of Ryan Career Services LLC, Concord, is a regular blogger on NHBR Network. He can be reached at 603-724-2289 or bill@ryancareerservices.com.


 

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