I have always hated those Back to School commercials, which seemed to signal the end of the summer for me. When I was in grade school, they would start airing them in mid-August. Marketers now begin to show these commercials in the middle of July. Even though many of us are no longer in school, those commercials still mean that our summer mode of functioning is nearing its completion. No matter our industry, we can tend to shift to a different way of operating from June-August, letting up a bit on the career advancement pedal. As the last few weeks of August give way to September, our summer reverie will begin to revert back to a more intense workload and final quarter goals. Thoughts of Summer Fridays, and our beach share will slowly fade into pleasant memories. Although career advancement planning should be a year round endeavor, unless we are actively in a job search, we may be apt to neglect it during the summer months. Therefore, now is the time to refocus your efforts. Here are three quick tips to become more active in your career advancement, to prevent stagnation and to promote growth:
- Create your Career Resolutions Now– whether you are seeking a new job or a promotion, now is the time to consider your New Year’s career resolutions. For example, if you want a new role by 2016, you need to start updating your resume, networking, and exploring options now. If want a raise or a promotion in the New Year, you should be positioning yourself to gain additional responsibilities or key projects during this last quarter of the year. Think about 2-3 resolutions and prepare to address them today. If you are stuck, reach out to mentors, friends, or a career coach, to identify manageable goals and your strategy to accomplish them.
- Reaffirm your Value Proposition– in our current knowledge economy, employers tend to place more of a premium on your skills and accomplishments, rather than on only your previous experience. Many of us tend to undervalue our work-related attributes. Therefore, it is important for you to consider what will make you marketable, whether you are changing careers, or seeking to advance in your current job. Think about your leadership and problem solving skills, or your sales or operations acumen. Don’t solely focus on your skills gaps, which can be addressed, but rather build your confidence by clearly articulating and leveraging your strengths.
- Integrate Networking into your Daily Routine– we have been told about the power of networking ad nauseam. Unfortunately, it can feel forced, anxiety-provoking or overwhelming. However, the good news is that we are more connected than ever, thanks to technology. Despite this connectedness, I find that many of us do not network as often as we should. That is, although we are active on a variety of social media platforms, we do not adequately discuss our career plans and goals with our contacts. We believe that networking should only be done when we need a job. This attitude increases the pressure we feel about networking. Instead, it may be more helpful to view networking as consistent relationship building. Therefore, you can make it a part of your daily routine. Whether it is connecting with more people on LinkedIn, catching up with former colleagues for coffee, participating in online groups or in-person Meet-Ups, networking should be as natural as getting your cup of coffee each morning. With constant practice, it will become less threatening and more comfortable.
These tips are meant to bolster your career advancement, and to ensure that you are reaching your potential for long term career success and satisfaction. So make sure to enjoy these last few weeks of summer, while preparing for the next chapter of your career journey!