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Bullet Proof Your Career With 5 Key Strategies

Jun 5, 2008
More than likely, you'll earn more money between the ages of 40-52 than any other time in your life. After the age of 52, many professionals begin losing the time, potential and motivation to continue driving their career.

And while you're in your prime earning years, every day that you're unemployed, or in a lower level position, means wasted income. Days can turn into weeks, weeks can turn into months, and before you know it - you've just lost $10,000, $20,000, or even more had you been employed.

So how can you bullet proof your career so that you stay in high demand?

A new client I'll call "Jim" recently called me and said that he had gone through a change in management which resulted in losing his 7-year position as the General Manager of a prestigious golf course.

He told me that after one year of searching, he had taken the "only job he could get" which was working part-time in the golf pro shop at a different golf course. After talking for a few minutes, it became painfully clear why Jim wasn't able to get back on his career path.

1. Keep yourself marketable. Jim shared that the golf industry was changing and that companies were requiring a specific kind of training and certification to be a General Manager. But Jim wasn't stepping up and getting the training. He'd rather fight the system (which he was losing) and not pay the two-thousand dollars for the training in the hopes of one day getting hired again as a General Manager. What Jim was actually doing was down sizing his career, his morale, and his paycheck by electing not to get the training.

Never let your career sit on a shelf longer than 6-months. Never! Keep the same drive and discipline that you had when you were employed. Get focused. Get a plan. Make it happen. Wallowing isn't allowed. Create opportunities to keep yourself marketable. Use your "in-between" time to get any training or education you may need. If you're not working, then start freelancing or consulting. Join an association's Board of Directors, or at minimum, a committee. These strategies will help keep you visible, expand your network, and boost your resume.

2. Fish where the fish are. Another mistake Jim was making was not having a solid job search plan. Where are your potential employers? Find out by reading trade magazines, industry publications, company websites and classified ads in your local newspapers to learn which industries are hiring, which companies are hiring, and what the hot jobs are.

Then, start attending industry conferences, trade shows, business networking events and association meetings. Also, join professional networking sites such as LinkedIn to get connected to industry leaders and company decision makers. Make it a priority to get connected, and stay connected, to people who can inspire you, hire you, or introduce you to potential employers.

3. Be a resource to others. Never give the impression that you're hungry for a job. Instead, you want to be seen as someone who drives initiatives, solves problems and leads teams. This is one reason why you want to consult, freelance, or volunteer while you're in between jobs.

Get personal with your professional network. Send out links to reports, case studies, press releases and websites that you think might interest them. Invite them to business networking events, and introduce them to other movers and shakers. Influencers are drawn to those who are resourceful.

4. Give your resume the "it" factor. When it comes to resumes - looks are everything! If you've been applying for jobs that you're qualified for, but you're not getting the interviews, then you need a stronger resume.

Hiring managers can have stacks and stacks of resumes piled high on their desk which means that if your resume doesn't have the "it" factor - you're toast. Don't lose out on a great job because your resume doesn't stand up against your competition. Instead, invest in a professional resume critique. You'll get specific strategies based on your goals, strengths and accomplishments to get the attention of hiring managers and put yourself in high demand!

5. Interview smart. If you're getting interviews, but not job offers - then you need stronger interviewing skills.

Interviewing brings up a lot of anxiety mostly because it seems that the interviewer has so much power and you, the one being interviewed, have so little. But there are things you can do to balance the scales of power. Invest in a session with an interview coach before your next interview. You'll get crisp, solid strategies to learn how showcase your strengths, answer the tough questions and what to say to close the interview.

And one more bonus tip: consider hiring a career coach. A career coach can partner with you as you navigate through a stormy situation. A career coach can give you the tools and support to help put your career back on track. And some career coaches can give you a roadmap and tell you exactly how to get from "Point A" to "Point B."

Meeting with a career coach means dedicating one whole hour to talking about you about your career goals and challenges. Be prepared to come into a session with your toughest questions, biggest challenges, and an open mind to get new ideas, strategies and best practices to get your career on track!

The point is that if you've been unemployed or at a lower level position for longer than six months, then you need to shake things up! Try different career strategies and start thinking outside the box. And never, ever give up your drive, ambition and courage that it takes to move your career forward.

Your job is out there waiting for you. You just need to go get it!
About the Author
Sherri Thomas is President of Career Coaching 360, an international speaker, and author of "Career Smart - 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand." Career Coaching 360 Career Coaching provides career planning, management coaching, and leadership development support to help professionals change careers quickly and easily.
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