About four months ago I decided to accept a job with a leader in the software industry. This is the first of a multipart blog entry designed to share a few lessons learned during my 25 year professional career. Most of my experience is in the technical field but these tips can easily be applied to any job search. Please excuse the analogy incase you are not as fond of fishing as I am.
I’ve been pondering this post for some time now. Fortunately, during my professional career I have never gone without a job. Since graduating college in 1990 with a degree in education, I’ve had nine full time employers and no gaps between employment. I guess I could say that I’ve had three careers: teacher, HVAC technician and a broad career in computer technology. I’ve also had a slew of part-time and volunteer jobs that have greatly influenced my full-time employment. Engaging in these additional roles has really boosted my career and without them my opportunities would have been much more limited. For me, writing articles and blog posts for myITforum.com has been a huge help.
So what’s this bit about industry leaders? I know from experience that it takes a lot of time and effort to change jobs. Why work for a second rate employer when you could work for a first rate employer? It takes a little more effort but the payoff is worth it. I’ve worked for all types of employers and gennerally found that compensation, training and morale are much better with industry leaders who value their employees. Working for an industry leader also tends to improve your chances for your next employment opportunity.
Getting a job is like catching fish
I’ve heard it said, “getting a job is really about selling yourself”. I like to say it’s more like catching fish. You have a much greater chance of catching fish if you come prepared. In most cases, you can’t just show up and expect to catch fish. For example, you need to bring the proper equipment, depending on the type of fish you want to catch and based on the conditions. It’s not enough to come prepared, you must also use the right bait. Just like a fisherman’s tackle box, there are many facets to your professional career that can be used as bait. Finally, you need to create a strategy that meets your objectives. Folks that that have a strategy are far more likely to catch fish (and jobs) than those that don’t.
So if you want to land a job with an industry leader:
Prepare to catch fish
It would seem silly to go on a big fishing trip but fail to prepare for it ahead of time. Start preparing now by devoting a portion of your time each day to improve your marketability and to build networking connections in your field. This is actually an investment to your professional future that is sure to pay dividends. Investing in your professional career will make you a more valuable employee to your current company while giving you a better chance of landing a job with an industry leader. Preparing for a job change is actually easier to accomplish and more helpful than you may think. Don’t wait until you need a job to prepare for a one. Preparing should actually be an ongoing effort to build a skill base to draw from when its time to choose your bait.
Find ways to maximize the return on your professional efforts. For example, blog about the concepts that you learn at work. Blogging can help others gain knowledge and solve problems while letting them know what topics interest you and where your expertise lies. Blogging also allows you to develop connections with people in your field and helps to keep you relevant.
Here are some ideas to help get you prepared. I do most of these activities on a regular basis as a way to build my knowledge and network with others:
- Read and share something useful everyday.
- Actively participate in LinkedIn (or other online) groups that support your career interests.
- Pay attention to career trends and strive to stay current. Try Monster, Dice, LinkedIn and Career Builder.
- Actively volunteer for assignments with your employer that both improve your marketability and that interest you.
- Blog and then syndicate your posts via Twitter, LinkedIn and/or other social media channels.
- Attend training and events that support your career.
- Join trade associations and local user groups.
- Make a habit of regular (quarterly) career assessments and goal setting. Implement the necessary changes to reach your goals.
Stay tuned for blog posts on the topics of using the right bait and creating a strategy.
If you are looking for a job change feel free to drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org . I may have some leads to share.