5 Thing to Know About Managing Your Career

Let there be no doubt: these days, the concept of loyalty between employers and employees is limited at best. You are in the driver’s seat regarding your career. Therefore, it is imperative that you take the time to manage your own career. Your objective should be to find careers and opportunities that match your passions and allow you to live, save and invest in a manner that matches your goals. (For related reading, see: Gain Financial Wisdom With These 5 Steps.)

Here is a list of five things to get you started and motivated.

1. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is your online relationship builder. It’s where you find people. It’s where people find you. It’s where you can directly apply for jobs. Here are a few key elements of LinkedIn, as well as tips for using it:

  • Increase your connections to 500+.
  • Don’t indicate your birth date or the year you graduated.
  • Follow key groups: your industry, your alma maters and your passions.
  • Be active. Like, share, endorse and congratulate others. There are plenty of resources out there on how to make the best use of LinkedIn. Be proactive. Don’t be shy.

2. Communicate Your Accomplishments

On LinkedIn or on your hard copy resume, you will need to think about how best to communicate your current and previous work. Think in terms of numbers, examples, accomplishments and results. The acronym is NEAR. To read more about this principle, check out this link. Recruiters and employers want to know what you’ve done and how you’ve been successful. Don’t wait for others to pat you on the back. Create a log of how you have helped or improved a situation at your current employer and at previous jobs. This should be the body of your resume.

3. Networking

Networking. The word can be a turn-off to many people. Instead, think of networking as building relationships: the opportunity to get to know people outside of your current group of friends and associates. Jobs and opportunities are often found one step removed from your current circle.  Think in terms of small steps; you don’t have to meet a ton of people at an event, but just a few. Follow-up with an email ("Great to meet you!") and a personal invite on LinkedIn. (Sample LinkedIn invitation: It was great to meet you at the wine tasting last night. I look forward to seeing you at other similar events). Your circle just grew. And maybe you’ll even make a friend or two.

4. Skill Development

How important is skill development? Very. How have you grown? What resources have you committed to your career? Classes, informational interviews, seminars and conferences are a few ways that you can continue to build your skill base. Now it’s easier than ever to attend a webinar, a conference call or join a professional group. (For related reading, see: The Career Benefits of Vocational Training Programs.)

Be a leader – know about the current trends in your discipline. Also, don’t be shy about managing a project – either at work or as a volunteer. These projects allow you to push your skill base, expand your network, and demonstrate your competencies to another group of people. It’s important that people see you in a new light.

5. Finances

Be aware of your financial well-being and commitments. Sometimes you’ll need to take a lateral move to grow. If switching careers, you will be at the bottom, once again, and have to work your way up. Therefore, it is imperative that you keep a healthy savings account (at least 9 months of living expenses), keep your debt down and spend money wisely. Be prepared when the next opportunity arises. (For more, see: 10 Ways to Jump Start Your Savings Plan.)