by Paige Miller
Even if you aren’t looking for a job, you never know what’s around the corner. It’s important to keep growing professionally – and it takes time to do so. Consider these tips to make sure you are prepared for the next step in your career.
1. Excel at your current job
This may be an obvious one, but often one of your best opportunities for professional development is working to get better at what you do every day. In addition to gaining feedback through your annual review, consider how you fit into your organization’s long-term strategic plan and how you can help your organization achieve those goals. Take a look at your official job description and consider how you might go above and beyond. Engage in meet-ups with others in your field to make sure you understand how your field is evolving. Excelling at your current job may lead to benefits down the line, such as a raise, advancement opportunity within your own organization, or a job offer with one of the partners you work with.
2. Keep a running list of your accomplishments
Keeping a running list of your accomplishments can be helpful if you need to put together a quick resume, prepare for your annual performance review, or if you end up meeting someone at networking event who might want to hire you. As you add to this list, remember to update your LinkedIn as needed. You can now upload documents, photos, links, videos and presentations to your online job description, so keep this in mind when updating your profile.
3. Seek out professional development opportunities
If you are given funds and/or time each year for professional development, take advantage of all of it. This is the easiest way to gain experience and skills that you can use to enhance your on-the-job performance while bolstering your resume. Are there skills that might make you stand out in your field, but you can’t pursue these one work time? Or might you want to shift directions in your career in the long term, but you need additional training make yourself competitive? If so, consider using your personal time to do so. Whether that means volunteering at an organization where you’d like to work in the future, taking coding classes, or joining a local nonprofit board*, this extra effort can make you stand out.
4. Dedicate some time each month to thinking about your future
Setting aside 30 minutes or more each month can help you stay focused on how your career trajectory is progressing. You can use this time to: – Keep a running list of what keeps you stoked about your current job, what you might dislike about your job, and what roles and responsibilities you would like to take on in your next one. – Keep a running list of places where you might want to work in the future. Peruse job postings or even the LinkedIn profiles of people who work there to get an idea of what their employees do and whether they have a good employee retention rate. – Sketch out or update your five-year plan.- Schedule a meeting with a retirement planner. – Have coffee with your mentor to catch up. Don’t have a mentor? See #5.
5. Dedicate some time each month to building and maintaining relationships
At least 40 percent of new jobs come from networking – a good reminder to make sure that you are dedicating time to building relationships with others in your field. Remember that networking is a two-way street – rather than showing up to an event looking for someone who can offer you something, bring your own advice and experience to the table as well. Additionally, if you built some important relationships in your last job, this is a good reminder to see if your former colleagues want to meet up for coffee or drinks. Even if you don’t find yourself a new job through networking, you may find a new mentor or connect someone else with a new job. If you put a positive, thoughtful effort into building relationships through networking, there’s a good chance you will personally benefit while helping others.