September means fresh starts, and no season brings more overall job search opportunities than the period right after Labor Day. If you haven’t explored the job market lately, here’s some good news: this year, more than any in recent memory, a tightening labor market has put strong executive candidates in the driver’s seat. Whether you’re actively searching or just considering your next move, here are my favorite four steps for making the most of the Career New Year.
1. Evaluate yourself. How close are you to being at the top of your game? What progress have you made since January? How well have you prepared for and adapted to crucial business and industry trends? If you’re seeking new employment, what can you do to make yourself a more appealing candidate? Whether your next actions are as substantive as pursuing a new professional certification or as simple as enhancing your social media presence or even updating your business wardrobe, understanding where you are now will help you know what to do next.
2. Set goals. And write them down. This is a simple but powerful way to hold yourself accountable for taking action to advance your career. If you made New Year’s resolutions, some of those goals may still apply. If so, recommit now. Or maybe your assessment shows that you need to rethink what you want to accomplish. Either way, you have ample time to boost your career before the winter holidays. Think how great it will feel to start January with career momentum!
3. Build support. Whatever your goals, you need people to help you reach them. Use September to connect and reconnect with people you enjoy and admire. Make dates for lunch, breakfast or coffee. Join a professional association and take an active role. Volunteer. Even if you network primarily through social media, find time to connect in person too and use those occasions to help others as well as yourself. Look for ways to turn everyday encounters into career connections. At home, think about how you might be able to lean on family and friends so that the fall schedule can include time for advancing your career.
4. Own your success. First, get comfortable talking about your talent. Even highly skilled executives often hesitate or stumble when discussing their achievements, especially if it’s been a while since the last job search. Remember: it’s not bragging if you can do it. Talking about yourself may feel awkward, so be sure to practice before you go into a job interview. To own your success fully, you also need to resist the temptation to turn your career over to others, such as a boss, a spouse, a recruiter, a coach, a mentor, or a hiring manager. While advisors play a crucial role, you’re the one who best knows what you want. Take charge of your dreams, starting today, and your best career may be closer than you think.
By Julie Kampf