Way too often, being an employee puts you in the backseat of your own career.
When it comes time for your review, you’re scrambling to remember your projects, accomplishments and feedback.
When it comes to applying for a new job, you fear that you won’t stand out in a crowded market.
It’s easy to feel like you’re not in charge of your career, since as an employee you’re often being told what to do and how to do it.
But what if I told you that you can get back in the driver’s seat of your career?
What if I told you that there’s a way to be more valuable than the other candidates who want the same job you do?
What if, during review time, it was easy-breezy to not only sing your own praises, but to be able to clearly ask for a raise or promotion in a way that’s backed up by tangible proof?
If you’re ready to treat your career as if you’re an entrepreneur, here’s what you have to do:
- Learn and utilize LinkedIn (preferably), or another social media platform you enjoy that isn’t Facebook. My friend reached out to me the other day, asking if i’d give an intro to a LinkedIn connection of mine who was hiring for a job she wanted. Even though I’ve never interacted with this person other than accepting her invite, I said “yes.” Weeks later, I heard that my friend was hired! Working in HR, this contact said she gets 1,000’s of LinkedIn notes like yours but something made her read yours and look at the resume/profile, and she was impressed. Then, that same day, she heard good things about me through another channel, which led to them bringing me in. If you have a complete and robust profile with killer testimonials, you’re already ahead of the game. This article shows you what you need to do to round out your profile, step by step.
- Blog. You don’t have to create your own site for this unless you want to, since it’s easy to post on Medium or even through LinkedIn. What’s important is that you’re writing what’s important to you, which will help show that you’re a well-rounded, real person who has varied interests and isn’t afraid of starting and following through on their own projects. Don’t get nervous, though. If you’re an Executive Assistant, write about being an Executive Assistant. If you’re passionate about theater, start a blog reviewing shows you’ve seen or posting the theater news you’re excited about. If you love food, then share your favorite recipes and restaurants. Of course, if you’re passionate about the field you’re in or the job you have, even better if you keep that as the focus of your writing.
- Don’t be afraid to share your outside projects/businesses/interests. I have a former client who used to work in the nonprofit world, and she snagged a job in marketing because she didn’t hide the fact that she owned a soap business on the side. She put it front and center on her resume and cover letter, owning the marketing lessons she’s learned - and the results she’s gotten from her business. It got her hired in a brand new field and she was able to gain even more marketing experience from her job that she applied to her business. Win-win!
- Have your own personal website. What do you want people to know about you? Why are you great at what you do - or what you’re looking to get into? Use this website to craft your own bio, link to your active social media homes, and showcase your portfolio if you’re in a creative field About.me and Branded.me make this easy, with the latter offering a space to blog, too.
- Have your own personal business cards. Believe me, you don’t want a new contact or someone who’s considering hiring you to have a business card that links back to your company email and office landline. Easily make your own professional cards - with the links you created above! - at moo.com. They’re tax deductible!
- Keep a Win Book. A Win Book is a place where you store all the compliments and “thanks” you received about your work as well as the accomplishments you think are notable about your own work. By having a catch-all for the awesomeness that’s been bestowed to you (& you’ve bestowed onto yourself), not only will you be able to build-up your confidence about what you’re doing and the quality of your work, but it’s a tangible thing to utilize when it’s time for an interview or your annual review.
- Have an elevator pitch. Sure, you can answer, “so, what do you do?” with “I’m an accountant,” but that won’t do you any favors. If you say, instead, “I’m an accountant who works with women that want to be more in control and well-educated about their financial futures” - WHOA. Sign me up to work with that person. If you talk not only about the what of what you do, but the how, why, and/or for whom, you’ll be able to spark more lightbulbs for the person you’re talking to as to whether they need that, or whether they know someone that does.
- Attend conferences. Your company might even pay for it! Pitch them with why the conference is important to you, what you plan to get out of it, and why it would be beneficial for your job and/or the company. Go there armed with a way to take notes, your personal business cards, and your elevator pitch and make it a point to talk to new people as much as you’re comfy with. It’s a great way to network in a really natural way, since everybody there is interested in the topic at hand.
- Keep reading and learning. It’s always a positive thing to be up-to-date on anything relevant in your field, or the field you want to transition to. Watch TED talks, read non-fiction books, and take classes that are relevant to the work you’re doing or the work you want to be doing. I dare you to not find something interesting at ProSky.
- Propose a personal project at work. Start a book club. Lead a productivity workshop. Raise your hand to organize mentorship lunches. Whatever you propose, take initiative to get a project off the ground that you would want to partake in. It’ll make your work more fulfilling and be great resume fodder.Employees often have the mindset that their career will just happen to them, while entrepreneurs make sure that they happen to their careers. When you make the time to be pro-active about your career goals and better control how you’re seen by others, you’ll become a more valuable employee and prospective hire. Another win-win!
Michelle Ward, PCC, has been offering dream career guidance for creative women as The When I Grow Up Coach since 2008. You may have seen or heard her in New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, Etsy, Newsweek, Freelancers Union, the Forbes Top 100 Websites for your Career List or 100+ other media outlets. She’s the co-author of The Declaration of You, which was published by North Light Books, and the teacher of Create Your Dream Career and Ditch Your Day Job, which were watched by tens of thousands of people live on CreativeLive. Discover and achieve your dream career at www.whenigrowupcoach.com.