My fellow professionals, oh how the times have changed. I am still not sure I have this new-fangled internet thing down. It has been nearly a decade since I’ve looked outside my close network for a career advancement opportunity. Ever since finishing my Bachelor’s degree and receiving my PMP, I have been non-stop reading books–Kindle is a blessing. I decided to read some career books because I really want to work on earning a leadership role and becoming a higher contributing employee.
If you are about to or are already looking for your next challenge, I have three main things I’d like you to do prior to looking internally, online, or via your network. Even if you are not actively looking, you should always be open and prepared for new opportunities.
Step One: Social Media
Check all your social media, blogs, sites, etc. Is there anything out there you don’t want your Grandma or future boss to see? Clean up your mess, if you have one. As for me, my Facebook is so private; you must be a friend of a friend to even see me. Even so, I went back and cleaned it up. Since then, I have done some public posts, but not many. I still believe that I am allowed some social media privacy. My other social media and blogs, which are public, were all done under a pseudonym and a cartoon personification as my profile picture. I still went through the process of cleaning it up as needed.
After reading the career books and blogs, I decided I needed to have a public, online presence. I created new social media profiles using my real name and a professional picture to enhance my personal brand. This included a new Twitter, Google+, Facebook page, Instagram, blogs, and website. The goal is to keep these professional while still showing off some personality.
Start using social media if you haven’t already. This will be discoverable by future hiring managers, recruiters, and colleagues. Post about your experiences, what is new in your industry, quotes, and so forth. My personal goal is to focus on Career, Leadership, ITIL / IT Service Management, and Project Management posts. No pictures of shotgunning a beer or your latest bikini tan lines, though. OK? Your minimum goal should be a professional posting on LinkedIn once a week, with your actual goal being once a day. Personally, when I post on LinkedIn, it automatically posts to Twitter, then that Twitter post automatically posts to my Facebook page (not profile). Google + gets forgotten quite often, and I need to fix that. The more you post, the more followers / connections you get. The more you get, the more interaction you will have, and you will start to climb on the search result ladder.
I use three different services to posts blogs. The blogs themselves are the exact same. The reason I do this is to increase the chances of being higher in SEO (search engine optimization). I use my main website (Squarespace), a free WordPress, and a free Medium. I have also found out that trying to subscribe to the Squarespace site is more complicated than it should be. Another reason is that people may only use WordPress or Medium. Just like regular social media posts, you should post consistently (daily, weekly, bi-weekly). I have failed in this area for… reasons, but as our parents always say “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Step Two: Self-Discovery
So, your social media is clean and primed to go. But who are you? When I started the self-discovery process, I had an idea. The problem with ideas in your head is that they shift or get re-worded, so I decided I wanted to write them down. This included core values, vision statement, mission statement, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities for improvement, and personality profiles. I will be posting about myself later, so the following is just a brief overview of the process.
According to the Oxford dictionary, value is “a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.” What defines you and why? What are your convictions? When were you happiest, and what was the situation? When were you not? I aimed to come up with five core values, and it ended up being eight. I just could not get rid of three more. Written out, the value is one or two words and I added a definition to each of them. I also ranked these values with one being the most important to me.
I already had a 5-year plan, and it helps feed into the Vision and Mission statements. I wrote an entire article on the development process, so I won’t take up space here. If you haven’t done that yet, you should. It helps not only with this process, but really helps to put things in perspective and clear your mind.
What is your vision of your future in the next five to ten years? Where do you want to be in all aspects of your life? If you have a significant other, discuss this with him/her as well. I started this out as a bullet point list, pulling things from the 5-year plan, prior to it turning into a one to two sentence statement.
As opposed to a vision statement, a mission statement is concerned about the here and now. What do you want now and how will you achieve it? A mission statement can remain the same, whereas, the vision will change at a minimum of when you meet that vision statement’s goal(s). You can still update your mission as needed. I kept mine to one sentence.
Strengths / Opportunities for Improvement / Weaknesses
Get to know yourself a little more. What are you good at? What are you not good at? Let’s work backward. In my opinion, an interviewer asking an interviewee “what is your greatest weakness?” is the old way of thinking. Also, let’s be honest, a little insulting. Who’s to say you have a weakness that relates to the job you are interviewing for?
Now, an opportunity for improvement is different. These are things that relate to the job, but you have yet to master it. You want to ensure you have a plan in place to improve those you have identified.
No, he is not giving you the bird.
What makes you shine? Marcus Buckingham said, “Don’t push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Push yourself in your strengths zone.” Keep improving what you are already naturally good at. I have purchased the book Strengths Finder 2.0 and took the assessment on http://strengthsfinder.com. There is another, more recent assessment, that I have yet to take at https://standout.tmbc.com/.
The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an introspective self-report questionnaire designed to indicate psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. There are 16 different personality types. If you are using this for your team, to have a better understanding of how they work and interact, it can get quite complicated. If you are using the test for you individually, I have found that it is quite accurate. You can take the assessment for free at https://www.16personalities.com.
DISC is a behavior assessment tool that centers on four different personality traits: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. This one is not as complicated as Myers-Briggs from the perspective of others understanding and interacting with each other.
- Dominance – places emphasis on accomplishing results, the bottom line, confidence
- Influence – places emphasis on influencing or persuading others, openness, relationships
- Steadiness – places emphasis in cooperation, sincerity, dependability
- Conscientiousness – emphases on quality and accuracy, expertise, competency
You can take an assessment for free at one of the following: https://www.123test.com/disc-personality-test/index.php or http://www.onlinepersonalitytests.org/.
Step Three: Résumé
There are too many ways to go on this. In fact, it can be overwhelming. There are so many templates and so many opinions on what works best with the ATS (applicant tracking system), recruiter, hiring manager, and so forth. Even then, depending on your industry, the format and color scheme can change significantly. For five months, I edited my resume on my own, taking into consideration all these factors. I finally decided to seek a professional’s help. I have had a handful of compliments; however, I am not sure if the investment has paid off just due to the little amount of time that has passed. I personally like the way it came out and thinks it tells a better story.
There is a lot to do, but I will say the self-discovery was well worth it. I have learned a lot about myself and it has brought into focus who I am and what my strengths are. This knowledge helps you with your job search criteria, your résumé, your custom cover letter, and your interviews. Also knowing those things has actually brought me more confidence.
I have gone back and forth on ‘where does networking fall?’ I have decided that I am going to include it in a future article about job searching. I hope this has prepared you for taking on the next challenge.
Thank you for your time,
- Oxford Dictionary. Web. 09/19/2016. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/value
- Web. 09/19/2016. http://strengthsfinder.com
- Web. 09/19/2016. https://www.16personalities.com
- Web. 09/19/2016. https://www.123test.com/disc-personality-test/index.php
- Web. 09/19/2016. http://www.onlinepersonalitytests.org/