Ten steps for career development

When you decide that employment inertia is no longer working for you or you find that economic conditions beyond your control have thrust you into a job or possibly a career change, then you need a plan. The better you accept and strategically deal with change, the more likely a positive outcome can be realized.

There are ten important steps must be followed in order to form a complete plan. As you read the steps below, assess for yourself if you have a grasp on some of these or if you need to develop and refine certain ones. You’ll know that you have mastered most if not all ten steps when you feel deep contentment with your career.

  1. Choose your “industry“. It may be as clear-cut as pharmaceuticals or physics or it may be a hybrid like combining social work with animal rescue. But whatever you decide, be clear that you are in a field that you care about and would like to grow within.

  2. Determining and promoting your value proposition or unique selling proposition, including a branding process. Everyone needs to market themselves if they are to find career options and opportunities.

  3. Having a strong resume. Preparing a resume that highlights your significance and employment value is more relevant today than ever before. Make this a document that has you truly shining.

  4. Distributing cover letters that open doors. In general, the more targeted a cover letter is written, the greater are your chances for an interview. But also consider the cold cover letter that can make a hiring manager sit up and take notice.

  5. Maximizing the power of LinkedIn. It’s a small jump from a solid resume to a powerful LinkedIn profile. Someone who may consider you for an interview or hiring will most likely look for your LI presence. Be there and look good.

  6. Know job search best practices. Still looking in the newspaper for who is hiring? Job search techniques have been identified that will increase your chances of getting the work that you want. Become familiar with what works and don’t waste time and energy with what doesn’t.

  7. Networking, networking, and networking. No longer just a job search tactic, networking is a systematic cultivation of people who can be a resource for career opportunities. Building and maintaining a rich network is now something that smart professionals are always doing, even and especially when you’re employed.

  8. Develop your intellectual capital through research. Knowing as much as possible about trends, practices, threats, and strengths in your chosen industry and/or with particular companies increases your credibility and instinct. Adding to your expertise should never stop.

  9. Practice informational interviews. As a subset of the last two mentioned steps, informational interviews assist you in building a knowledge base and learning from people in the know. Setting up short fact gathering sessions with insiders expands both your intellectual and your social capital.

  10. Strengthen your job interview performance. Being well prepared for all types of job interviews isn’t just about memorizing answers to common questions. It’s about leveraging confidence, knowledge, and skill to craft a presentation that leads to a satisfying career move.

Implementing a plan consisting of these ten steps will better position you for the work life you desire. Make no mistake, doing all of this is a lot of work and it’s not easy. But as the world of work moves increasingly toward one in which the professional is the primary caregiver of themselves, it’s a necessary one.

Source: William W. Ryan, “The Ten Basic Steps to Career Development”

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