When was the last time you thought about your career development? If you’re currently looking for a new opportunity or thinking ahead to position yourself for life changes, now is a good time to review your career goals and take steps to shore up your skills, relationships, and other competencies.
Here are 8 tips on how to refresh your career development:
1. Assess Where You Are and Identify Goals
Take some time, even just an hour or two, to reflect on where you are in your career development. Consider where you’d like to see yourself in 6 months or a year. Let your reflection include not only your job(s), but also your existing skill set, network, accomplishments, and activities. Write your goals down so that you can review them and see how you’ve done in meeting them, or reflect on how your thinking may change over time.
2. Update Your Resume
When was the last time you found yourself at an event, chatting with someone you’d just met, who said “Hey, can you send me your resume?” Instead of going into a state of anxiety and stress and having to revise your resume in a pinch, be prepared by updating your resume on a regular basis. At the very least, track all professional activities and accomplishments (courses taught, attendance at workshops/conferences, publications, participation in panels, awards received, etc.) in one place so that you can easily update your resume as needed.
3. Revise Your LinkedIn Profile
Many professional contacts and potential employers conduct initial reviews of job candidates via an informal scan of their LinkedIn profiles. Make sure that yours is updated, reflecting what kind of work you do, what opportunities you may be seeking, and who you are in a way that is professional and authentic. Consider updating the skills section of your profile since the LinkedIn job search function can be set to alert you to open positions that match your stated skills.
4. Stay in Touch With Past Mentors and Colleagues
Ideally, you engage with your network of professional contacts before you need them to do something. Maintaining contact with people you like and respect is beneficial for many reasons, including the fact that they already know your professional capacities. Reach out to meet one-on-one or in small groups if you are already attending the same conference or workshops. Or send an email sharing a relevant article or information that might be helpful to your contact. These personal touchpoints remind people that you are out there, and they may think of you more readily if they hear of opportunities that are a fit.
5. Keep Your Network Informed
Although discretion may be preferred in some instances, remember that people can’t help you get to where you’re going if they don’t know where you want to go. Because word of mouth and referrals are a powerful means of accessing jobs, including jobs that are not yet publicly posted, you should let people know if you are looking for a new position. Be prepared with an answer when they ask how they can help you and what you are looking for.
6. Develop Your Skills Through a Class
Consider signing up for a course in a skill that you want to develop for professional or personal reasons. There are so many educational providers out there, with a wide range of offerings–everything from language instruction to coding to graphic design to writing to public speaking. Participation in a course will provide you with not only hard skill development, but also an opportunity to expand your network.
7. Ask for Opportunities at Work
There may be opportunities for you to expand your professional skills in your workplace. Let your supervisors know if you are open to learning or taking on new roles and responsibilities. Check with HR about any affinity groups or committees that you can join to grow your internal network and strengthen your skills.
8. Stay Positive and Remember to Pace Yourself
Remember, keeping excited and grounded in your career requires both vigilance and a long game. Make sure you take time to nurture yourself and the important aspects of your life, like friends, family, and health.
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About the Author: Shirley Huey, J.D., is a consultant providing research, writing, and strategic development assistance to organizational clients. Her experience includes service on academic and professional hiring, diversity, and professional development committees as well as coaching peers and mentees. She is also a freelance writer, with a focus on her passions: food and culture.