Prepare for the Unexpected – 5 Tips to ensure you are always “Career Ready”

Even if you haven’t looked for a new position recently, you have probably made a hire, so you’ll know first hand that the recruitment landscape is virtually unrecognisable from where it sat 10 years ago.

Social media, virtual talent sites and that scary button “Apply Using Your LinkedIn Profile” mean that taking comfort in an Arial pt. 10 CV that lifts your position descriptions, word-for-word, since University is probably not quite going to cut it now. Add the fact that we’re in a very different talent economy, post-2008, means that the processes underpinning recruitment and selection, from both the perspective of the employer and the applicant, have utterly changed. Seeking a new opportunity now is an exercise in sales and marketing, and it’s vital that you start building that profile to be market-ready now, even if you’re not, technically, “looking for a job.”

Take stock and constantly evaluate your career plan
Number one in making yourself market-ready is really understanding your career objective, and accepting that this may change over time. When you were 23, you might have been dead set on becoming a Partner in the Big 4 – before three years in audit – so it’s vital you take stock and ensure you evolve your career strategy regularly. Think long and hard about your end goal, and research what competencies and skills you need to get there. Identify the gap between the stage you are at now, and try to map out 3 to 5 career stepping stones to achieve depth of experience in those competencies and skills. This might involve international experience, time outside of finance, or even moving industries. With this career plan, you can then start to evaluate what opportunities might be present in your current organisation, and what you will have to look for externally.

Ensure regular career review sessions
Even if you’ve had a cracking year, the process of an annual or quarterly review is time-consuming, exposing (there’s always something that’s been pushed to the back-burner), and full of conversations you know you need to have, but dread (salary negotiation!). However, they’re absolutely vital to keeping yourself on track, and forcing you to evaluate your current role, your future career path, and points for development. Embrace the review process, and fight for it to happen regularly.

Keep track of your accomplishments
If you’ve tried to write a CV in the last couple of years, or even prepared for an interview, you’ll know the struggle associated with articulating achievements. The simple fact is, apart from headline results, most of us can’t communicate the every day things we do that make a difference in our jobs, mainly because we forget. Every time you lead a mini-project, deliver an above-expectation result, or receive a complimentary email, store it. Keep a spreadsheet, or update your CV in note format using the STAR format (Situation, Task, Action, Result), so that when you need that information, it’s there.

Create your personal brand, online
Yes, you can apply for most jobs now just using your LinkedIn profile. In fact, it’s likely that in a number of years we might completely replace the traditional CV altogether – some businesses already don’t use them. And then there’s the chance of being headhunted, nearly all of which is completed by recruiters using LinkedIn or other social media platforms to gather their information. Even if you’re not actively seeking a new role, you must create an awareness of who you are in the marketplace by having a credible online presence, so that when you do go out to market, recruiters will know who you are – already. We’ve covered the benefits of having a great LinkedIn profile, and how to do it, here.

Keep the door open to conversations
Having connected, recruited and facilitated career moves for many mangers and executives, the people that have made the most lasting impression on me – and the ones I remember when it comes to long listing for a role – are the ones that are always open to having a conversation. Even if you’re not actively seeking a move, network, connect and converse, with other business professionals and recruiters. Not only will you ensure you know your market value (always useful!) you might just make a connection that could lead to something in the future.

Don’t close yourself off, use these conversations to understand how you can potentially market yourself in the future, and who you can call that might be able to lend you a helping hand on the way.

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At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future.
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