If we all had a “Career Score” just like our Credit Score, perhaps we’d pay more attention to our careers. Most of us, however, ignore our career marketability while we’re happily working, miss a ton of opportunities to network, and then scramble to “reach out” or “join LinkedIn” or “sharpen our resumes” only when we are in a downward spiral, when our company is on the rocks, or when we are in the process of losing our job… Here are 18 things you can and perhaps should be doing in 2018 to ensure that your career trajectory is on track for continued success and prosperity.
#1 Get Your Headshot on LinkedIn Updated or Improved
We humans are a visual species… and every study I’ve seen on LinkedIn Profile Impact shows that an attractive headshot will absolutely enhance your outreach. A poorly composed “selfie” photo, not having a photo, or anything less than a quality, professional image will reflect negatively on your judgment.
#2 Save All of Your Certificates, Accolades, Publicity, etc.
So many of my clients, suddenly at the job search stage, say “I had a bunch of certificates (or articles they were quoted in, or favorable company rankings / evaluations, etc.), but I don’t know where they are.”
#3 Get Healthy & Stay Healthy
Whatever your age, don’t take your health for granted… Even if your particular field doesn’t require physical prowess, it is inarguable that looking unhealthy, totally out of shape, or in ill health will negatively affect your ability to land the best jobs.
#4 Educate Yourself
Nearly all licensed, professional fields require ongoing continuing education in order to maintain licenses. I travel annually across the U.S. to attend career industry training. Even if your field doesn’t require it, enroll in programs to stay up to date.
#5 Pass It Forward
Any regular reader of this blog knows that I’m a huge fan of “Paying It Forward” in order to keep your karma in good shape and also because it works… Those who help others seem to encounter the best opportunities.
#6 Increase Your LinkedIn Connections Weekly
You should set aside a bit of time, at least each week, to reach out to make new connections on LinkedIn. If you are not adding new connections on a regular basis, someone else is… and that someone may find job opportunities long before you do.
#7 Improve That Resume
Easily 9 out of 10 resumes fall short of best practices, are not fully up to date, do not include enough specifics (projects, dollars, rankings, KPI measurables, etc.), or do not reflect what hiring managers in specific industries need to see.
#8 Get Out & Mix
Sure, social media is great, but don’t ignore opportunities for face-to-face encounters at professional meetings, conferences, community events, and other networking venues. Always get the email / contact info to follow up positively to those you meet.
#9 Keep Your Wardrobe Fresh
Sometimes we can get stuck in a fashion rut by either wearing outdated styles or not refreshing our wardrobe with new additions. Do a little shopping for stylish business attire and update you look at work… People will notice.
#10 Identify & Pursue Your Next Mentor or Coach
Everybody from a CEO to an administrative aide can use a mentor or coach, someone with more knowledge or a bit higher up on the food chain who can give advice, steer us in the right direction, and perhaps serve as a reference.
#11 Write an Article & Publish It Online
Take a career-related topic you feel strongly about, do a bit of research, organize your thoughts, gather a few royalty-free graphics or photos, and create an article on LinkedIn, or Facebook, or Twitter, or a blog.
#12 Google Yourself
If your name is fairly common, add in your city or other identifiers, and do a search on yourself. See anything unflattering? There are ways to remove it or reduce it’s impact. Is there very little at all? That’s not a good sign either (see #11 above).
#13 Make Your Own C-A-R Index Cards
Our favorite interview technique is to get a half dozen or more index cards, and prepare each one with a brief C-A-R statement from job-related projects or initiatives you have played a role in. C=Challenge or Problem, A=Action You Took, R=Results You Achieved. Keep it short. Memorize them.
#14 Read a Book
Magazine or online articles can be helpful, but in our digital age, those who actually read books (even on Kindle) can get a step ahead of the screen-addicted masses. Ask your local bookseller for a recommendation on a great book in your field.
#15 Upgrade Your Technology
Having a 5-year old flip-phone, an out of date computer, or seriously old software on your devices can only get you so far. Sure, they seem to work fine now, but in today’s rapidly advancing tech world, you may be judged by how tech-savvy you are. Upgrade or get left behind.
#16 Get a Plan
Where do you want to be in 5 or 10 years? Nearly all companies and organizations have a strategic plan, complete with specific steps, analysis, and recommendations, and for good reason… Failing to plan is planning to fail.
#17 Achieve Work-Life Balance
Set aside quality time to nurture your relationships and family, as well as “you” time to meditate, relax, and recharge. The highest achievers generally have rich personal relationships and meaningful extracurricular pursuits that complement their lives.
#18 Build Your Reputation & Stay Positive
How well you treat those above or below you? Your reliability, your punctuality, your moods, your conversations, and your attitude will all affect your reputation… which is perhaps the #1 indicator of your career marketability going forward in 2018 and beyond. Keep your chin up and let 2018 propel you career!
Grant Cooper recently won the national Career Directors International President’s Award (CDI National Conference, Orlando, FL).
Grant Cooper, founder of Strategic Resumes & Career Coaching, has appeared as a career expert on CBS, ABC & FOX, has published more than 300 media and journal articles, teaches seminars at major industry conferences, and serves as a judge for national resume writing competitions.
Grant has assisted the U.S. Air Force, Kinko’s, the Louisiana Dept. of Labor, the NFL, the NBA, as well as universities, regional banks, medical centers, celebrities, nonprofits, and corporations. Grant’s clients land positions at Fortune 500 firms.