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Network your way into a brand new career with effective, individual and professional development strategies.  Seeking a new job should start with a plan that ensures the next job is as right for you, as you are for it.  Use what you already know to improve your career.  Discover your strengths and how to emphasize your qualifications in interviews and during networking events.  Use this quick guide to begin your search for your career with the right organization within your own community.  

Job Hunter's Guide 

What is an individual and professional development strategy?

A plan that will help you utilize your strengths, experience and qualifications to advance your career opportunities.  It includes: Discovery, Action, Maintenance.

Discovery

Individual Development (ID)

Motivation

It's important to know what motivates you.

  • What do you enjoy? 
  • What would you like to attain more than you currently possess? 
  • What do you want for your future? 
  • What past successes do you value most?

Set goals with specific actions based on your motivations.  Remove or reduce resistance so that it does not prevent you from achieving your objectives.

Strengths

  • Do you know what you do well? 
  • What is your competitive advantage (what sets you aside from others)? 
    • communication skills
    • efficient
    • memorization
    • creativity
    • patience
    • organization skills
    • effective leadership qualities
    • good problem solving ability

Develop your individual strengths and self-worth by improving your life in areas that utilize your strengths.  Trying to do something or be someone you aren't is an uphill battle to career success.  Even if you achieve income success doing something you don't like, ultimately your personal success and happiness will never be realized. Doing something that fits your skill set, interests and strengths is an easy path to success. It's a recognizable accomplishment that often generates an enviable conveyance from others, such as, "Wow, you make that look easy.  How do you do that?"

Experience

  • Who have you been for much of your adult life?  e.g. mom, sales person, wife, business owner
  • What have you done more than the average person (good or bad)? 
  • What has happened in your life that doesn't happen to everyone (good or bad)? 
  • Where have you been? 
  • Who has provided you experience, education or guidance?
  • Who do you know, follow or lead?

Regardless if experiences in your life have been positive or negative, these experiences can produce positive results.  Use what you've learned in past events, jobs, relationships and circumstances to achieve results in becoming a better business owner, manager, employee, job candidate.  Your experience can help others.  Build from your experiences.  It can make you interesting in any social or professional environment.

Personal and Social Development 

Now, you know what motivates you and have taken actionable steps to set and reach your goals.  You recognize your strengths that help you achieve these goals and avoid situations, people and opportunities that don't value your strengths, experience and goals. 

Your life experience makes you a valuable and important person in your sphere-of-influence.  You should now understand yourself enough so that you can develop your social skills to meet like-minded individuals who share similar interests and goals.  Your strengths may overlap at times, but with your own individual experiences, you'll each bring value to your relationship.

Professional Development (PD)

Goals

  • What about your current job do you like and what do you want to change? 
  • Do you like your current pay, the pay structure and potential? 
  • Where do you see yourself in 1, 3, 5 and 10 years? 
  • How many hours a week are you willing to work in the first 3 years? 
  • Do you have the education and training needed to work in the career field you want? 
  • When would you like to retire?

All of these questions will help you determine the type of job you seek, how much you want to give to get and what you need to attain your career objectives in order to retire according to your goals.  Don't try to put all of this together in one day.  Really, give it some thought.  Consider these questions at work and home.

Note - Your professional goals should be consistent with your personal goals.  If they contradict your personal life and overall goals you will always be dissatisfied with both.

Experience

Consider every bit of your work and personal experience, even if it goes back to a job or situation that seems insignificant, but has been helpful in spearheading your current career interests, expertise or goals.  Don't hesitate to discuss something that seems trivial, such as a time you provided excellent customer service, turned a difficult situation into a good outcome or some specific instances for your interest in a management role. 

Stories personalize you and set you apart from your competition.  Telling a perspective employer about your early career shows you had foresight towards your current career path.  This implies you set long-term goals and work towards achieving them.

When you have an opportunity to expand on your professional development without jeopardizing your overall personal and professional goals, you should accept.  Give all new opportunities a chance. Be a team player, but keep your professional objectives top-of-mind.  Don't be afraid to speak up when your experience, qualifications and education provide an insightful perspective that other team members could benefit.  Be tactful and considerate with your approach and don't always expect your opinions to be accepted and utilized.  The important thing is to continue to contribute to remain a valuable member of your team and organization.

Qualifications

  • Ever been told you lack the qualifications necessary to get a job? 
  • Did you ask what you lacked? 
  • Did you ask what was the most valuable asset of the last person the interviewer hired for a similar position?  

Until you get into the heads of key players in recruitment, you will never know how to downplay what you don't have and sell what you do.  If you're lacking educational qualifications or experience, then you should get at least the minimum needed to get your career going.  The details of your education and experience should get you in the door.  These are important details to substantiate any offer of employment.  But, your ability to sell yourself in the interview and be genuinely likable is your primary qualification.  People hire people.  Be personable.

Networking 

When the job market is unforgiving and human resource departments have hundreds of applicants for every new hire, you need to think like a professional instead of a job seeker.  

Make connections with friends and family about mutual interests that may benefit your careers.  Join local networking groups to make personal connections in a professional atmosphere.  Develop relationships with key decision makers who influence recruiters and managers in organizations for which you have an interest.  Stay professionally social and remember it's not just who you know, but who those you know, know.  That's the power of professional networking.

Avoid sounding desperate, bitter or sullen about your current position.  Instead, explain the valuable experience you have gained in your current position and have an interest in career advancement for your current employer or another that may offer you a new platform for your professional development.  Think like a professional and you'll be hired like one. 

Action

Join (Get involved in the right professional networking groups)

  • Chambers of Commerce, Lead's Groups, BNI's, Toastmasters International, Local Industry Boards and Groups
  • Don't over-invest on membership fees and ask if you can attend some functions of any as a guest before you pay a membership fee 
  • Consider creating your own networking group with other business associates in the interest of peer support, marketing co-operative, networking and introductions to key business leaders

Attend (Be seen, heard and liked.  Remain top-of-mind of those for whom you want a connection and perhaps opportunity.  Be available to help others and allow others to help you.)

  • Luncheons
  • Meetings
  • Training seminars
  • Any function with local business people
  • Volunteer opportunities

Contact (Make connections, meet for coffee or lunch, ask to understand more about what they do and how you both could help each other) 

  • Friends and family
  • Current business contacts
  • Local business owners
  • Business leaders and individuals you met at other events
  • Individuals for which you are a client or customer

Repeat (Know when things are right.  When they aren't, make them right, then keep them that way.)

Sometimes networking get's old.  Your career starts to take off or you achieved your new employment objective.  But, don't stop.  Remain active in your local networking groups.  Don't overdo it.  When times are slow, put more time into networking, when times are good, stay top-of-mind by attending only primary events.

If networking begins to negatively affect those personal and professional goals, take a step back, evaluate and rework your networking schedule so that it remains a beneficial part of your career.

Maintenance 

Individual Goals

  1. You like your life. 
  2. You like your social circle and schedule. 
  3. You and your family are happy. 
  4. You see your future unfolding as you dreamed.
  5. Your income is right.
  6. When or if this changes, reevaluate.
  7. Review your individual development goals. 
  8. Make it right, then maintain. 

Professional Goals

  1. You have achieved your goals set for different stages of your career. 
  2. You have the opportunity to learn and earn achievements. 
  3. You feel respected and your compensation package or business revenue reflects that. 
  4. You understand what your current sacrifices or set backs will be worth in your definitive long-term goals. 
  5. You enjoy and accept attainable challenges that keep you motivated and success-minded. 
  6. Your goals for both your career and personal life do not interfere with one another.

If this is not your current professional evaluation, review you professional development goals above in the Discovery section.  Make it right, then maintain.

-OurDMK.com



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