Running a business entails making a business plan before you start the business and following up on that plan once the business is up and running. You should treat your career the same way. Do not wait for your employer to offer you opportunities to develop your skill sets. Even if you do have a job right now, you should continue to network. Find out what is happening in your career field, who is hiring, who is firing. You should know the career trends so you are the one who decides when you make your next career move, not your employer.
The days of the company taking care of your career development are long over. While you do not have to become a business entrepreneur, you have to be an entrepreneur when it comes to your own career.
Think about how you come across professionally on your resume, in correspondence and on the telephone. What type of professional do you want to be? How are you going to brand and market yourself? Your brand is your reputation or how people see you professionally. You may never need an executive bio, but it is a good exercise to write one anyways because it helps organize your thoughts on who you are professionally and how your career development has progressed.
The United States government provides a plethora of career information from the Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor statistics. The Department of Labor can inform you about Workers’ Compensation, veteran’s assistance programs, disability, retirement, youth employment programs, unemployment, work safety and overtime. Among the Department of Labor’s top 20 requests are information on COBRA health insurance continuation coverage, the Family Medical Leave Act benefits, United States employment statistics, health plans, minimum wage and unemployment insurance. It is a good resource to use when you are not sure about work-related information or your employer has not given you enough information on any of these topics. If you want to make sure that information you have about jobs and working is accurate, the Department of Labor resources can verify it for you.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook provides profiles for many careers that give you job descriptions, educational requirements, median pay, job outlook for particular careers and the number of jobs within that career for a given year. The Occupational Outlook Handbook is one resource to use to find keywords to write a more effective professional resume. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is also an important resource for examining career trends and deciding which career you will choose and what type of education you will need. Statistics on United States productivity, employment and unemployment, pay and benefits, and on the job injuries are also provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Together, the Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor statistics provide valuable government work information to help keep you working or to get you back to work if you have been laid off.
One of the most powerful tools you can use in your job search is networking with other people. It is not just networking with other professionals within your industry-networking can also take place with friends, family and acquaintances who will put you in touch with people who can help you with your career. However, networking must be done with an element of finesse. It can be so obvious to others with whom you network that you are just using them for their knowledge, contacts, and their career positions. In order to prevent this perception, you must be willing to reciprocate, to help the people with whom you network, either now or in the future.
You also have to be careful about distributing your resume to those with whom you network. Feel out the situation. How is the conversation going? If you feel comfortable, ask the other person if he is willing to receive your resume in case he knows of an available position. If you are doing an informational interview that you arranged with a contact, you should not be pushy and try to turn that interview into a job interview. Use this type of interview to find out about career trends, types of companies that may have job openings within the next six to 12 months, and to learn about other people with whom you may network.
Be careful-people who graciously agree to speak with you in an informational interview may get offended if you try to push your professional resume at them-if they are interested in you, they will let you know. Always be prepared by carrying a copy of your resume and other job related documents with you-a good tip to remember wherever you are out networking.