Too many people, too often, fall into the trap of becoming stuck in a stagnant career (or get caught up in the ‘rat race’ as I like to call it). Though many people will be quick to defend their choice to stay in this position – odds are they had been simply waiting for success to fall in their laps while they continue to do a good job.
There is nothing wrong with that-if you don’t mind waiting a good, long time. Problem with simply waiting for ‘success’ to find you is that it is more likely to pass you by than settle comfortably on your lap.
Others try to get a ‘better’ job after accumulating enough experience from their previous employment. This is a good sign. Instead of simply waiting for success to suddenly appear, they have realized it is more beneficial to take charge of their own career and make (or grab, whichever term rocks your boat) their own success.
And there is no reason why you can’t do the same thing. Heres a few steps to get you started too and lead you in the right direction.
First things first
1. Assess your Priorities
You need to ascertain what are the important aspects of a company you are looking at. The most important aspect, and one too often overlooked by many people, is the location. If you are targeting somewhere close to where you live then your choices are limited by the radius you have drawn for yourself-on the other hand, many people who have families to think about have to seriously consider this.
If you have no qualms about how far or close your prospective company is then your options are much broader. Then consider the size of the company. The larger it is, the more positions and room for promotion. Smaller companies are great to forge closer working relationships but it is more competitive as promotions are more likely to be fewer and far between as there are less positions to fill.
Think about what job perks you want and narrow down the companies which offer them. All of these priorities will help you list the companies you want to work for and the compensations you will receive in return for your effort. Make a list then start scouting companies which will offer what you want or at least most of it.
2. Long term Goals – What are they?
Companies don’t like to hire individuals who aren’t going to stick around for the long haul. Turnover is expensive. Both you and the company you are possibly going to work for need to be sure you are going stick around.
So analyze what are the reasons you are leaving or have left your previous company. Did you feel under-appreciated? Were you frustrated by the lack of promotions going your way? Do you want more perks to go with your job? Do you want tuition reimbursement from your company?
Find out what these are and seriously consider if the prospective company you are looking at can offer you what you want from being employed there. If they can, then you need to assure them that you plan to stick around for the ride. It will save both you and the human resource department alot of time and grief.
3. Stay on Top to be on Top
Lets face it. Experience is very important but qualifications will always give you an edge over your competition. If you haven’t got a college degree it may be time to seriously consider getting one. If you already have one, think about getting your Masters. Attend workshops, seminars and talks. Get as much certification that is related to your job or career as possible.
This may seem frustrating at times because this is a continuous aspect that is ongoing for as long as you work. More and more people are competing for the same jobs and those without an edge (in this case, something besides years of experience) will be swept away. This will also help ensure you wont be the first person considered when your company, God forbid, has to downsize or cut corners.
4. Timing is Key
One needs to stay alert and on the ball when changes are in the air. Don’t wait for a hostile takeover or downsizing to make you spring up and pay attention. You need to know what is happening so you know what to do when it needs to be done. When you seek employment from a company, do it when they are expanding. Don’t go begging for jobs from companies trying to or about to cut costs.
This saves time for you and them. This ‘timing’ will also make the difference between you landing that job you want or being shown the door.
Okay. So you have done all of the above. So where do we go from there?After the first step, the rest will be much easier and if you let yourself-you will probably enjoy the ride. Read on.
1. Write out a Professional Resume
Your resume is the first impression that prospective employers have about you. Most people wont even see the inside of an interview room until all the resumes have been sorted through and they have eliminated unimpressive of resumes.
Don’t send in a cookie cutter resume. Your resume needs to stand out. It must maintain the professionalism expected of you as well as reflect your position level. If your aiming for the vice president position you don’t want to offer them a resume better suited for a low level manager.
Your resume needs to grab their attention and make them say ‘I want to interview this man/woman’. Only then will you be able to get an affirmative call from them and be guaranteed an interview at all.
I don’t want to have to say this but MOST important is your grammar, punctuation and spelling! In the elimination process, they will look for basic mistakes made-anything from wrong spelling to misspelled names to dates that were wrong (the year is 2007! Don’t put 2006 or 2005.) to unprofessional emails (email@example.com will not be contacted, I assure you.) will only make them place your resumes in the dustbin.
If this task is too daunting for you to undertake alone, and you would be surprised how many people cannot write a professional resume for themselves – seriously think about hiring a professional resume writer. It will be money well spent in the end.
2. Network, Network, Network. Did I mention Network?
Pride is a cold bedfellow especially in the competitive job market. Its fantastic if your resume and qualifications alone were enough to land you that dream job but lets face it-most of us can use a little more help. Make use of every possible contact you know to get a foot in the door to the company you want. Professional Associations, trade-shows and even old Co-workers or schoolmates who worked with recruiters are great sources to potential opportunities. Try to contact those recruiters to find out possible job openings and opportunities.
3. Write to Key Decision Makers
Send your professional resume and a well written, thought-out letter to the key decision makers in companies you scout. These two tools in front of the right person may help them decide to do something they have long considered but never got around to (we all know how that is). It may convince them to finally replace the borderline employee they have on payroll or expand their business. All they needed was that push and your resume may be it. You have nothing to lose and it certainly wouldn’t hurt.
4. Advertised & Un-advertised Opportunities
Pursue advertised positions through every means available to you. Use the newspaper, journals, and the internet. Do be careful about posting your resume indiscriminately online though-once it is posted you may not always have the chance to remove it and you never know who may see it. This is especially important if you are job-searching while you still work for your current employer.
Don’t be shy about sending out inquiries to companies that aren’t advertising though. Sometimes companies don’t get around to advertising an open position or haven’t had the time. You may be able to snatch these opportunities if your resume and inquiry is sent at a good time. Use your contacts and keep your ear on the ground so you can take advantage of the best times to do this.
Good luck in getting that dream job you deserve!