A masters course in career management from two veteran career experts
It’s the seemingly small things that sometimes harm our careers.
These include not telling your story, failing to keep abreast of what’s going on in your company and in your industry and trying to be all things to all people, says David Sanford, an executive vice-president with the recruitment firm Winter, Wyman.
“Be prudent and always be aware of your business’ conditions; keep your nose in the wind and your eyes and ears open for when it is the best time to move on,” says Sanford.
Here are some of the errors and tips to avoid them.
Stay on top of happenings in your company and your industry
“Even in the best of times, companies routinely are merged, acquired, imploded and overtaken, sometimes leaving hundreds and thousands of people looking for new jobs,” says Sanford. “Step out of your comfort zone. As human beings, we don’t like to admit that we don’t have all the answers and it’s uncomfortable for most people to ask for help, especially from those outside your inner circle.”
Become a joiner
“There isn’t a profession or industry on earth that doesn’t have a trade association, user group, online discussion board or fan club,” he continues. “Find one relevant to you and join it. Whether you are currently employed or not, opportunities flow from being around like-minded people and professional associations and communities are where you need to be. They are a great way for uncovering hidden jobs, to further your knowledge and to make new relationships. Investigate which are appropriate for you and join in.”
Sanford acknowledges that most people are just not comfortable talking about themselves or self-promoting. And he has a message for them: Get over it!
“Advancing in your career or finding a new job requires you to balance humility with bravado,” he says. “Your resume or a relationship may open a door, but you have to be prepared to march through it with a lot of confidence and a bit of swagger. Find a way to get over any discomfort when talking about yourself and how wonderful you are. The best job candidate is one who truly believes he or she has something unique to offer and can articulate their message with words, body language and confidence. A hiring manager wants to fall in love with you, give them a reason to.”
Don’t be all things to all people
Sanford suggests taking a narrow focus when looking for work or trying to advance your career.
“You are not going to be good at everything you do, so don’t fool yourself into thinking you are,” he says. “Figure out what you want to do and where you want to do it – and narrow your search to opportunities that fit into your realm. Don’t have interviews or networking meetings where you hope the other person can help you figure out what you want to do.”
Stephanie Daniel, a senior vice-president at Keystone Associates, an outplacement firm, weighs in with two other common errors: forsaking your network and putting off updating your resume until the right opportunity comes along.
“If you don’t have the time right now to do a full-out resume update, at the very list keep a running list of skills and successes, focusing on measurable results and outcomes,” she says.