Proper planning can help advance anyone’s career
By Karla Goodhart
Market Yourself Like a Pro
Networking and self-promotion don’t come naturally to most people. It can feel awkward to put yourself “out there” with people you’ve never met or only met a few times — especially if you admire these people.
Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Accept that most professional success requires a certain amount of networking.
Take the following three actions to begin marketing yourself like a pro.
Make Over Your Professional Documents
In many cases, your resume and professional social profiles are the first impression others get of you, so it is important that you keep them up to date.
If you haven’t changed your resume in a while, consider giving it a whole new look. Just keep in mind that all the information should be easy to identify and written in a clear and concise manner.
Unless you are an experienced member in your industry or have held many positions, there is no reason your resume should span more than one or two pages.
Create Original Content
Now that you’ve sharpened your professional profile, it’s time to convey your knowledge and show people what you’re passionate about.
Publishing short blog posts to your professional profile is a great platform to get your content in front of industry leaders.
To keep your name in front of others, publish on a few thoughts on a regular basis. Following a consistent routine of writing can get you noticed by key industry decision-makers.
Adopt a New Perspective
Sometimes taking a fresh approach to an idea is all it takes to succeed. There is no shame in promoting yourself, but it can still feel uncomfortable.
If networking feels needy or desperate to you, flip the idea on its head: Stop thinking of networking in terms of what you will get out of it and instead consider how you can help others.
Thinking of networking in terms of sharing your knowledge and expertise can alleviate feelings of awkwardness and make conversations feel more natural.
Do You Want an Internship?
Maybe what you’re really after is a job. Are you looking for something that pays? Or a position that you can grow with?
These things can be found in an internship — but are not guarantees. Research both options before choosing an internship.
Take finding the right internship seriously. There are many factors to consider. The right internship will align with your career goals. The right internship won’t drain your finances to the point of financial ruin. The right internship for you won’t necessarily be the right internship for someone else.
Understand the Commitment
How much of your time will each internship you are considering require of you? If it is full-time and unpaid, you will need a strict financial plan to follow during your internship.
Will it require weekend hours or nights? Will it require travel? Understand your commitment upfront and there will be no surprises.
Understand the Return
Are you looking at paid and unpaid internships? Even if you are getting paid through your internship, there are many other benefits you should consider.
Ask yourself what this particular internship will do for your career. Are you able to network effectively? If you prove yourself, is there potential for the internship to lead to a full-time position?
Understand the Environment
While it might seem like small potatoes, the environment in which we work has a huge impact on your productivity and overall happiness. If you like to be around people, the team spirit and collaborative nature of a company should be very important to you.
In other words, don’t sign up for an internship that has you sitting at a desk all by yourself, day in and day out. You will tire of the work very quickly and become uninspired by the company — even if it is doing great things in which you believe.
Interview Mistakes to Avoid
New career paths and opportunities for advancement begin with the same step: the interview. Successful interviews are achieved with a mixture of confidence, preparation and proper grooming, and you’ve most likely read many tips and given tips on great interview skills.
Most of these tips, however, list all the things you should do and focus more on preparing for your interview.
What about what you should avoid doing during an interview?
Showing Up Late
This one should be obvious, but the larger point is that no one plans to show up late to an interview. Things happen. There is traffic. There is unforeseen weather. There are canceled babysitters and medical emergencies.
Be sure to build in a buffer. Plan to leave for your interview much earlier than you need to. If nothing stalls your progress, you can always kill time in the area in local shops or find a coffee shop where you can review your notes or read up on the company a little more.
Selling Yourself Short
Be confident in your skills and experience. For example, don’t be embarrassed of a position you held that didn’t end as planned. You still learned valuable lessons and skills from that experience. Tap into them and demonstrate how each experience has helped you grow.
It also is important to know your own story. Pay attention to what you are saying so you can avoid inadvertently contradicting yourself later. If there are gaps in your experience, be prepared to talk about them.
Don’t talk about how nervous you are or how intimidated you might be by programming or software you will have to use. Revealing your insecurities makes you look unsure.
Saying “like” or “um” too much also makes you seem unsure of yourself. You want to exude confidence in yourself, your skills and your ability to do the job.
Having Zero Questions
You should ask at least one question of your interviewer. Even if you prepare a few questions, there is the chance that those will be answered through the process of the interview.
If this happens, be ready to think on your feet. Odds are there was some point of the interview you can build off of to ask an intelligent question. For example, “How do you feel leadership is fostered within the company?”