Backpack to Briefcase: Are You Prepared for Your Next Move?

Are you considering the next step in your career? You may not even be seeking employment when the right job comes along, so you need to be ready at all times. Here are some suggestions for you to be equipped for your next opportunity.

  • Practice and polish your “elevator pitch.” Be ready to sell yourself no matter where you are. We usually prepare to introduce ourselves if we will be at a networking event, but you might meet your next boss in the grocery store. Rehearse what you will say when you meet someone influential.
  • Carrying cards? It is best to carry personal business cards with you, in addition to your employer’s cards. Your personal cards might contain not only your contact information, but also a bulleted list of your skills, education, or career aspirations.
  • Is your resume ready? Have you updated your resume in the last few years? It’s much easier to revise your resume every few months than try to remember your accomplishments years later. Now is the time for a resume refresh.
  • Are cover letters crucial? Nearly every job posting states that the organization seeks applicants with excellent communication skills. A cover letter allows you to showcase not only your writing ability, but also your ability to persuade the reader to hire you. Be sure to demonstrate that you match all of the requirements sought by the employer.
  • Is an advanced degree necessary? A certification? If you think you want to move up the career ladder, be sure to do some research about the expected qualifications for your next role. If a master’s degree and a CAE is preferred, start working on those now so you’ll be prepared for your next move.
  • Are you LinkedIn? If you are in the job market, your LinkedIn page is as important at your resume. Many recruiters don’t post jobs; they search LinkedIn for people who meet their requirements. You could get a call out of the blue from a recruiter who found you online. Spend time perfecting your social media presence.
  • Be a STAR at interviewing. The best way to prepare for an interview is to practice answering questions. Gather about 20 commonly asked questions and write out complete answers to each one, being sure to use the STAR (Situation/Task/Action/Result) formula. Carefully review the job description and pay close attention to the behaviors and skills the employer seeks.
  • Say “thank you”! You’ll want to have professional thank you notes handy so you can follow up within 24 hours after an interview, after meeting someone for coffee, after attending a networking event, or to thank anyone who has helped you in your search. Your appreciation will go a long way in encouraging others to continue supporting you.
  • Invest in your vestments! In other words, be sure you have interview-worthy clothing in your closet. Be sure your suit is clean and pressed!
  • Know your worth. If you were offered a new job tomorrow, would you be able to negotiate salary? The employer will likely ask you for a salary range. You don’t want to be too high or too low, so conducting salary research could make or break
    the offer.

It’s a crowded job market, and it is critical to stand out from the crowd. Always be ready to meet new professional connections – you never know when a new opportunity will come your way. Your next move can be your best move if you prepare!

Author Shelly Trent, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CAE, is a career coach, speaker and writer whose books include “Humans@Work” and “Compassion@Work: Creating Workplaces that Engage the Human Spirit.”
Photo Credit: ©iStock.com/Tom Merton

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