Are you considering vying for a new position or promotion with your current employer?  Or is it about time to be searching for a new employer?  You do not have to be a part of the “Great Resignation’ to know that it is up to you to define and develop your options. 

While you decide, now is the time to take some basic steps to ensure your career future shines.

Sit down with a blank page in front of you and dream about your ‘perfect job’. Go into as much detail as possible – define the

  • actual work details and the scope of that work,
  • type of people you will work with,
  • the flexibility you seek and/or where the job is,
  • perfect employer: what are its culture and values and how people act.

Review this a few times over the next week and add things that pop into your mind.

Once you have concrete ideas on a ‘perfect job’ you are positioned to figure out how to make it happen. You also know what you may need to do, learn, or add skills to be a great candidate for that job. Those steps may be simple or may require a longer term plan to achieve but you are on your way. Plus this ‘perfect job’ can guide your job search to existing jobs, within your current company or externally.

Second, figure out social media and develop a plan to support your new career choice.

Do several online searches using your full name and any common nicknames you use. Be sure one of the searches is for images. Don’t tell me you’re not online. Even if you are not active on social media, you may well be online. Follow the links and see what you learn. You may be pleasantly surprised. Or, nothing like discovering someone with your name whose online presence is going to hinder any job search you undertake. If that happens to you, you want to be able to address that with the right social media URLs on your resume as well as in job search conversations.

Recruiters and hiring managers regularly look for or vet candidates on social media, including LinkedIn, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter.

Third, build your connections.

Internal job changes and promotions are a part of any effective career plan. Be sure you are networking within your company to learn more about options and other people’s work. Develop your connections with people in departments or functions which interest you. Make it clear to your boss and other senior people that you are interested in contributing to the company’s future.

  • Learn what development the company offers and how to use it.
  • Volunteer for task forces or employee social functions or join the company book club or other interest groups to meet people and to increase your visibility.
  • Learn about the company’s goals.
  • Manage your boss effectively.

Enhance your network. Whether you want an internal option or a change of employer, a strong network helps you to learn about yourself, grow your knowledge, and improve a job search. Some people are natural at  networking. Many of us are not as comfortable meeting new people. Or we only do it when we are in job search mode which is ineffective unless you have plenty of time.

  • Reconnect with people from your past – peers, bosses, fellow students
  • Make connections to new people in your career field via professional groups and online networks.
  • Read and connect to authors/influencers in your area of interests.
  • Ask people you know for contacts in specific fields, employers, and related fields.

Once you are in contact with someone, be sure to follow-up. Ask specific questions or seek specific support/help. Most people are willing to help at first, but less so if you just connect and then disappear.

Make yourself valuable to your connections. Be interested in them and their interests. Provide interesting content or links to them. Offer any help you can provide. Keep them in the loop if you ask for any assistance. Say thank you for information or help received.

Take Job Search Actions

Figure out your focus for that next job. Don’t just think general job titles. Learn about yourself first and then about possible jobs. Assess what specific job you want – whether it is the ‘perfect one’ you described above or a close match or one you need to do to get to the ‘perfect one.’ Check also by talking to people who have that job – do you want their work demands and lifestyle?

Assess what you offer for such a job. Do you meet all the common requirements? Do you have achievements that demonstrate you are ready for that job next? This is also a smart time to set up a job agent on job boards so that you see what is available, what employers are seeking, and which of your target employers are hiring.

Once you know what the job demands, you are ready to assess potential employers. As you do this, talk with people in your network and make connections to people in your field in the employers which interest you. Validate your knowledge and learn as much as you can. Be sure the target employer is actually one where you can succeed. Look at how their values and practices and probable future match up with your goals and needs. If they do, follow them on social media. Connect with their corporate recruiters there too. Learn as much as you can so you are able to tailor your resume and get the interview! Once you are interviewing, be sure to ask questions that will help you understand the job and whether the employer’s culture and values match yours.

These simple steps will keep you ready for any career steps you may make in the future. Learning and doing them early makes effective job search much faster and easier if your job ends for whatever reason or if you decide it is time to move on.

Ongoing research shows that people who mind their networks and careers in this way are more successful financially and in job options. Be ready for success!