Stimulate Your Career … Free!

Career DevelopmentAs we approach the end of the summer vacation season, another season begins. That season is the preparation for next year. OK, that is really not a season as defined by the weather services. But, most business and professional organizations begin the planning process for the following year. These processes include budgets, sales or earnings forecasting, hiring, contracting, expanding and many more activities.

Here is the big question: should you do the same for yourself? Rhetorically, let me answer the question… YES. Here is the primary reason: As organizations make plans for next year, those plans will affect you. I do not assume or assert that the effect will be negative. I merely suggest that you recalibrate your career compass, so that you are prepared for changes that you may face.

I suggest that you consider these ten (10) proactive steps that you can take, or continue, so that you can more accurately evaluate your situation and protect yourself.

Here they are:

1. Salary ResearchYou should establish a method for tracking the current salaries that are offered for the position or title you hold, the industry and the type of work that you do. There are a number of organizations that offer this information on their websites and a simple search will generate a listing of them. You could also check a few recruiting sites that post salary and compensation information. The reason for this step is to determine what professionals with similar experience and skills are commanding.

2. Compile positive feedback – Begin to compile your positive feedback. This could be in the form of performance appraisals, testimonials from customers, or clients or colleagues. Save this information in a private and secure file at home. As time permits, review this information and do your best to quantify the top ten (10) listings. If necessary, discretely ask customers to quantify the value of the contribution about which they commented. This will be useful, if you are asked for your largest accomplishments by a prospective employer or even your present employer.

3. List ten influential professionals you want to meet – Theses may be people in your organization, people who you met at a conference or presentation, or that a colleague or friend has suggested that you meet. Depending on the contact, you should exercise discretion in scheduling these meetings. Once you have prioritized this list, you can determine the best way to begin the outreach.

4. Summarize your year – It is a good practice to keep the people in your network up to date on your accomplishments. Consider developing an appropriate email format to let them know about your top five (5) successes or accomplishments of the current year. It would also be very helpful to ask them to update you on their progress in a similar fashion. Don’t forget to let them know that you will be willing to assist them to the extent that you can.

5. Create a reading list – You have probably made a decision to read certain books, watch certain DVDs or take certain self-improvement courses. It may also be helpful to ask your network contacts, friends and mentors for recommendations on specific or general topics. Once the list is complied, publish it to your network with a message of thanks.

6. Identify 10 companies you’d like to join – You can bookmark the web sites of these companies. You will be able to determine some of their basic plans such as expanding, new products, hiring, training, career development and other important information. This list might become a target list for your next career move, future research and tracking of their activities.

7. Wish listThroughout the year, your friends and colleagues, have probably recommended events, conferences or training seminars. Prioritize these suggestions and begin to research dates, locations and costs to help you determine which are feasible for the coming year. Don’t forget to determine if your organization’s tuition assistance program will cover any part of your list. If not, you may be able to ask your leadership if any part of this will be covered as a job related expenditure.

8. Reconnect with former colleaguesAgain, make and prioritize a list of ten (10) former colleagues with whom you would like to reconnect. Send a short email or call to let them know that you would like to reconnect. Based on their location and schedule, you can arrange to chat further or even meet for coffee or after work. Try to spread the contacts so that you do not create a “bubble” in your schedule.

9. Update your LinkedIn profileAudit and update your LinkedIn profile and ensure that you include a current photo. As a result of your outreach, check to see if your profile views have increased. You should also let your network know that you have updated your profile and ask if they have any recommendations for inclusion.

10. Business cards – Even if you have business cards from your employer, it may be a good idea to develop a personal business card to facilitate sharing your information. On your personal business card you can include your personal email address, personal mobile telephone number, LinkedIn profile link or other branding information you want your contacts to have.

Related Articles:   Your 7 Greatest Career Sins   and   11 Rules for Achieving Success

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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