Fall is in the air, which means the kids are back in school. If you’re a mom, that means more “me time.” More time to explore, reassess and figure out where you’re at, and where you’re headed. Perhaps this will be your season to become a mompreneur. Women, if you are currently in a job you dislike, fall is a great time to start plotting your move. While spring is about cleaning and rebirth, so is fall. Fall is like one great giant haircut- the shedding of dead ends and making room for new and healthy hair to grow. Fall is a great time to tune-up your career.
I have been doing a lot of career tuning myself lately. I recently put the finishing touches on my book proposal for a second book. Gulp. That felt incredibly exhilarating and exciting. I also am in the process of trying to make smart decisions regarding my ultimate dream- to make a difference at a different level- a whole new platform- television. I am balancing the blog, brand relationships, coaching, speaking engagements and motherhood. Navigating your way through a career at any stage, is never easy.
If you are on the fence, stuck or at a career crossroads, here is my 5-step fall career tune-up:
1. Examine Your Life and Career, and Set Goals.
A few good questions to ask yourself to assess where you’re at:
- What do I really want?
- Am I where I want to be in my career?
- Am I stuck in a dead-end job?
- Do I hate my job?
- How does my current job fit my life goals?
Fall is a great time to really self-assess, either by taking self-assessment quizzes or working with a career coach. If you’re truly unhappy in your current situation, make the firm commitment to yourself that you will make changes and take action. The year 2013 will be all about ACTION. No just talking, but DOING.
When examining your life and career, think of things like:
- What do I value in an employer?
- Do I need more flexibility than the average employee?
- Do I enjoy a fast-paced, more corporate environment, or would I prefer to work for a small company (the big fish in a small pond scenario).
Familiarize yourself with all the different industries that interest you. Once you’ve evaluated your life, your current situation and have figured out more of what you want, it’s time to set some goals. Give yourself a timeline of when you hope to accomplish each career goal / step. Have that timeline clearly mapped out, and posted in a visible place. This keeps you focused, on track and holds you accountable to your goals.
2. Expand Your Network – NETWORKING BABY!
Most people get turned off or scared of networking, or simply, don’t even know how to do it! They walk into a room and freeze. I say to my mentees, “get over it!” You’re not going to network or grow your contact database by sitting behind a desk all day. You need GET OUT THERE and EXPAND YOUR NETWORK. Shyness just won’t cut it as an excuse.
Your roster of personal contacts is one of the most powerful tools you currently have, and a great place to begin the networking process. Commit to reconnecting with those in your existing networks like friends, old friends, family, old work colleagues, peers, etc… See if any of these people are connected to your field of choice.
But it is crucial to go one step further than just your roster of personal contacts. Join local organizations like your local Chamber of Commerce, local networking groups in your area. BNI is a great organization to join, as it is based upon a built-in referral program, where everyone shares referrals. EO is an option as well.
GOING ONLINE is an excellent place to expand your network. I discussed recently on national TV to have your CV in a PDF link, so that you may even reach out to someone on Twitter, Facebook, Linked in, Workopolis, Monster, WowJobs, etc… and send them your CV easily.
3. Upgrade Your Skills and Consider Additional Training/Education to Stay Marketable
A sure-fire way to improve your employability is to gain additional training or certification. It simply keeps more options available to you and opens more doors. Today it’s become more necessary than ever to stay on top of technology, industry trends, and customer requirements to keep you relevant in ANY company. In upgrading your skills, obviously keep them relevant and consistent with your interests and career goals. Simply put, never stop learning. Knowledge is power to you, and your future employer.
Upgrading your skills also means polishing your CV and your interviewing skills. Practice interviewing. In the mirror. Yes, your interview technique will have a major influence on the success of your job-search. Take the time to research the company prior to interviewing, and try to anticipate questions they would ask. Your personal style has much to do with you landing your dream job as your skills do.
4. Consider Advancing Internally.
Don’t be so quick to dismiss your current employer. If you have searched to no avail, consider approaching the HR department in your current company and see if an alternative career path is available within the company. You come in with seniority already. As I always you, “You’ll never know if you don’t ask.”
5. And finally, if there is nothing that has excited you after working with a coach or self-assessment, and you have that entrepreneurial itch, consider becoming YOUR OWN BOSS and starting your own business. If you truly have the passion, the talent and the drive, 2013 may be the year you become an entrepreneur.
I can tell you from personal experience, it is fruitful and rewarding. Being an entrepreneur gives you unlimited earning potential. No ceiling. The ability to affect great change and call the shots, as they say. If this is your career choice, I tell my coaching clients, first consider making your passion your paycheck. Success has as much to do with passion as it does with talent, persistence and hard work. Look at people like Martha Stewart and Richard Branson who made their passion their paycheck. I made my passion my paycheck in both my businesses. It was key to my success.
Or, if can’t make your passion your paycheque, did you thrive in a previous or current position and would be willing to go out and do this on your own? In essence, what are you good at? Where do your expertise lie? Using your current skills, may very well may be your next business!
And finally, can you use those skills, and purchase a franchise? Not every entrepreneur starts their business from scratch. Many entrepreneurs buy existing businesses or franchises.
A reminder: greater earning potential comes with greater risk and less job certainty.
Remember, in the end, the key to landing your dream job is to STAND OUT. Use everything you have, that makes you unique.
Tell us, are you at a career crossroads? Have you ever thought of starting your own business? Any career tips for our community would be greatly appreciated.