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Friday, August 6, 2010

Who's driving your career?

Recent research paints a very telling story of how employees are feeling about their work. According to Right Management polls, the majority of employees today: report their workloads have increased due to layoffs; have not used all their allotted vacation; are voluntarily leaving their jobs for greener pastures; and are being approached by other firms with job offers.

If there is one lesson to take from the downturn, it is that we cannot take anything for granted. This means that you need to be in the driver’s seat of your own career and be proactive with its management – no matter what the economy is doing and irrespective of your level of leadership.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article on how to conduct a stealth job search when you are still employed. But regardless of your level of interest in pursuing job opportunities, there are some things you should be doing on an ongoing basis to actively manage your career. Make no mistake about it: it’s a good career practice to take advantage of opportunities to showcase our skills. Social networking tools such as LinkedIn are terrific resources to not only highlight strengths and accomplishments, but, just as important, grow and manage networks. Keep your “status” updated so your fellow networkers know what you are working on and have a sense of how you add value.

Also, you never know when the perfect new opportunity might come along. Don’t wait until you need it. Keep your resume updated so you have your most important marketing tool at the ready. Highlight in your resume and during interviews how interpersonal and work skills will align with the company’s culture. Share examples of how your motivation or interpersonal skills helped you to overcome barriers or solve problems. Look for opportunities to share how your values are aligned with those of the organization.

As a final word of advice, whether you are pursuing a new opportunity or diving deeper in a current role, be sure to build and maintain a strong professional network. Networking, time and time again, proves to be the best source for identifying new opportunities.

When was the last time you questioned what direction your career was taking?

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