5 Career Tips: Developing a Plan to Strengthen your Credentials

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We are just getting started with 2018 and it’s as good a time as ever to think about where your career has been and where it’s going. You probably vowed to make this the year where you’ll finally get that promotion, acquire new credentials or see a radical change in your career. That’s all good on paper but translating these dreams to reality is a whole new ball game.

Worry not though. There’s plenty of time to get moving in the right direction. You’ll have to ask some hard questions and follow through on what you need to do. Here are five things you need to start thinking about and doing now.

1. Improving your position with your employer

Anytime we feel dissatisfied with our current jobs, the natural assumption is that this unhappiness can only be resolved by getting a job at a different organization. Yet, there could be a way to get excited and fulfilled again without leaving your current employer. Is there a different department you’ve had your eye on? Is there a role you’ve been dying to have? Is there a project you’ve wanted to work on? Perhaps you feel it’s about time you got a raise?

It’s amazing how much you can achieve by just stepping up. Develop a well-thought-out proposal or plan then approach persons of influence. That could be your boss, heads of other departments or even a peer. Take calculated risks, ask questions and make your case.

Present your ideas in a beneficial, compelling way that portrays you as an underutilized asset and not as a perpetual whiner. Figure out how you can help the organization improve productivity, make more money, solve problems, add value or innovate.

career tips

2. Develop a career pivot plan

Maybe staying at your current employer is unfeasible and you’d prefer to take bolder, more radical moves. It is all achievable but only if you are ready to develop an elaborate plan for your career pivot. When working on this plan, start by defining the ideal outcome.

You cannot move from a job that sucks the life out of you to one that invigorates you if don’t set out specific expectations and targets. What activities energize you? What skills do you want to make use of? What tasks do you do exceedingly well? Write these down. In addition, note down the stuff that you dislike and hate doing.

Summarize your preferences into a few words and use these when doing a job hunt. For example, if you are searching for family medicine jobs, incorporate keywords in your online search that define the specific areas and aspects of family medicine that most excite you.

Your career pivot plan should include a transition guide. How soon do you intend to change jobs? Are there skills or credentials you lack that you need to obtain to increase your chances of success?

3. Gain a new and valuable skill

Inadequate skills and credentials will often be your biggest impediment to changing jobs. You probably consider yourself a perfect fit for a number of job ads you’ve seen but there’s that one skill that rules you out as a viable candidate. Start to think about how you can acquire this skill.

Sometimes, it is a skill you can attain in a relatively short time (weeks or months). At other times, it may need two to three years. The important thing is knowing how long it will take and starting the process as soon as possible.

Some skills may have entry-level certification before you attain full credentials. Entry-level certifications may allow you to get your foot in the door of certain jobs even as you work on obtaining full certification in due course.

It can be difficult to get time off your current job to study so check the availability of online learning. Some courses may even be free which is great for those who might think cost is a hindrance.

4. Develop thought leadership

The value of thought leadership cannot be overemphasized. Are there particular people that immediately come to mind when you think about a certain line of work including yours? The reason you associate them with a specific expertise is because they’ve done a stellar job at setting themselves apart as subject matter experts.

It’s not by good luck but a deliberate and sustained effort to market their personalities and talents at the right place and time. It’s much easier than it sounds though and the most important thing (other than having the requisite skill of course) is consistency.

Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are invaluable tools in reaching many people at little to no cost. Post relevant articles regularly, provide commentary on industry developments and respond to questions your followers might have.

career tips

5. Nurture Your professional network

Social media is not only a powerful tool for developing your thought leadership profile but is also a great way to nurture and grow your professional network. If you are looking for a new job, knowing the right people will get you halfway there.

As long as you stay within the radar of your professional colleagues, you’ll be one of the first people they’ll think about whenever a relevant vacancy comes up. They’ll also be more willing to help you since you won’t have vanished off the grid and only appeared when you needed something from them.

LinkedIn is currently the best online tool for keeping your network current but it should be complemented by your associations on other social networking sites such as Facebook. Did someone in your professional circle land a job? Send them a congratulatory note. Do the same if one of them graduates with a Master’s degree or obtains an industry certification. You get the drift.

2018 is here and you have another opportunity to get your dream job. Use these 5 career tips to increase your chances of success.

About the Author

Ashley is a super-connector who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition.

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