It can feel so exhilarating to land your first professional job or secure an exciting new role with another company. So exciting, in fact, that you might forget to annually review your career documents and skills. However, you should treat this task just like you schedule your annual doctor visits, clean your air ducts, and get regular oil changes for your car. (You do remember to do those things, right?) 

However, in all seriousness, you really must consider what would happen if a company restructure, layoff, a new manager, or a change in the economy derailed your career. It might catch you completely off-guard. 

Ask yourself these three questions right now:

  • Is your résumé up to date? 
  • Have you adjusted your LinkedIn profile lately? 
  • How long has it been since you interviewed?

What is career management, anyway? Great question. Check out the tips in this blog post to learn more about it and manage your career like a pro!

What is Career Management?

Career management means that you actively invest resources to accomplish the short- and long-term goals you set for your career. This involves careful planning, skill development, networking, building your personal brand, and more.

The Benefits of Career Management

Actively managing your career gives you many benefits, including the fact that you protect your earning ability.

Benefit 1: You protect your earning ability.

Many working professionals rely on their salary to provide their total income. How will you protect your financial security? This never became more critical than when the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged many job sectors.

Effective Career Management Protects Your Income

Companies continuously restructure and you may also see new leadership come into your department.  Working with a new manager may not always work well for you and can jeopardize your employment situation. 

Benefit 2: Continuously learn new skills to make yourself employable.

The workforce has dramatically shifted over the years to a knowledge-based workforce. You must bear the responsibility to learn and develop new skills. You need to take a lifelong learning approach to ensure long-term career success. Take advantage of any additional training possibilities available within your company or seek additional training that fits your interests or potential roles you may want in the future. If you do not constantly learn new skills or broaden your capabilities, you may put yourself at risk in the event of a restructure or layoff.

Benefit 3: You develop a network to buffer employment conditions. 

What does this mean? It takes a thriving network to nurture a successful career. Nobody accomplishes career success alone. If your network does not grow with meaningful connections every quarter, you must start developing connections right away. As you develop connections, make it a point to nurture them. Networking plays the long game and reflects long-term career success.

How to Implement Your Career Management Process

Keep the following steps in mind when you want to implement the best career management practices, no matter what year you have celebrated in your career. 

Keep a Success Folder 

At Campus to Career Crossroads, we see this all the time: Many professionals do not have any career documents to demonstrate their individual successes over the years. 

We have even seen professionals with ten to twenty years of experience who have never put together a résumé at all. You can still write a great résumé, but if you don’t keep track of  information after a number of years in the field, you might find it difficult to recall every award or performance review. 

We have successfully written résumés for experienced professionals without any supporting information, but why not shape your professional documents (résumés, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles) early on, with key career information:

  • Performance reviews, especially with supervisor comments
  • Projects you took on, started, and led
  • Training certificates or new learning opportunities
  • Job metrics, such as budget responsibility, cost savings, revenue gains, new sales records, profitability improvement
  • Awards (also note the criteria and why you were selected for the award)
  • Appreciation notes from clients
  • Testimonials
  • Congratulations note from peers or supervisors
  • Publications, media projects, or presentations
  • Expanded hard and soft skills in the last six to twelve months

Update Your Résumé

Résumés directly correlate to your earning potential and future opportunities! If you have an objective statement on your résumé, you will look outdated to prospective employers. Listing job duties also does not cut it anymore. Most professionals struggle with their messaging and how to showcase strengths and accomplishments on their résumé. We can help!

You should update your résumé every quarter to six months! Internal positions and career opportunities with other companies can come up at a moment’s notice. Waiting longer than six months makes it more daunting and you risk forgetting important accomplishments. Set calendar reminders through Outlook or Google Calendar. 

LinkedIn Profile

Your LinkedIn profile serves as an essential component of your career management strategy. Did you know that your LinkedIn profile shows up first in the search results when someone Googles your name? (Yes, recruiters do this all the time!) 

What first impression have you created? Does your profile picture look ten — or worse, twenty — years old? Have you kept your LinkedIn background image set to the default image? Have you noted your current job title and responsibilities in your profile? 

As you update your résumé, not all career accomplishments may fit. Your LinkedIn profile may offer the right fit to showcase those items that will not fit on your résumé.  

As LinkedIn constantly changes and enhances its profile options, stay on top of these to keep your profile looking polished.

Interview Preparation 

A well-crafted résumé may get you an interview but your ability to interview effectively will get you the job! Professionals must now have exceptional video and in-person interview skills. Many professionals overestimate their interviewing capabilities and it can quickly cost them opportunities! 

What’s the best way to develop your interviewing skills? 

Practice!

Campus to Career Crossroads helps clients achieve interviewing success because we understand the hiring process from the employer’s perspective. Lynn McGuigan, director of career services at Campus to Career Crossroads, has spent over twenty years as a human resource hiring specialist. She has developed and implemented college recruiting programs at two companies and has trained Fortune 500 company executives and managers on how to interview candidates. 

Professional Associations

Joining professional associations can help you broaden your network and learn new skills. Professional associations offer a way to surround yourself with colleagues passionate about your industry. Colleagues throughout the country and even new business development opportunities may open doors for you.

For example, I have been involved with multiple associations for over twenty years, including the National Résumé Writers’ Association. It allows me to interact with accomplished résumé writers, build relationships, and learn about best practices which ultimately benefits all clients. 

Professional Associations Create Networking Opportunities

Network, Network, Network

As I track client career success, one common denominator stands out: Those who network land jobs more often than those who apply to positions on job boards. You want to work around applicant tracking systems when possible and develop your network so you can ensure that your résumé gets in the hands of hiring officials.  

Build up a few meaningful connections every quarter. Nurturing those can go a long way toward building a thriving networking community. A simple networking follow-up plan will ensure you stay connected and stay top of mind within your largest networking connections.

Build Your Brand

Have you ever thought of yourself as a brand? Your professional brand matters to a potential employer, networking contact, or anyone who can help you find a job or grow your career. 

What does your personal brand involve? Think of it as how you promote yourself. Your personal or professional brand makes up all your skills, experience, and personality. Work to build your brand into everything you do and make sure it reflects your character.  

Develop Your Skill Set

Always seek career development opportunities instead of waiting for your boss to dangle a carrot in front of you. Talk with your supervisor and learn about the development opportunities, such as conferences, online courses, mentoring programs, executive leadership training, and more. 

How to Outline Your Career Management Goals 

Ready to get serious about career management? Take a look at these steps — the first one is super easy!

Step 1: Celebrate your work anniversary. 

Your work anniversary can help you celebrate professional achievements, awards, and successes from the past year. Sadly, many employers do not recognize this day. Your work anniversary can offer you an opportunity to self-reflect in a few key areas:

  • What new or additional responsibilities have been provided to you in the past year? 
  • Do you desire to manage employees or multiple departments? 
  • Does your company offer a set pathway where you can grow into a role that fits your skillset, leadership strengths, and which also brings value to the company? 

Complacency can undermine the best career intentions and years can pass quickly without a candid review in this area.

Step 2: Know your next career move. 

Even the most engaged, enthusiastic employee should constantly know his or her next career move. While not actively job searching, an employee should know the career possibilities within his or her own organization and those of competitors. Job boards can help you do this.  Stay apprised of potential opportunities and the career skills required to obtain these jobs.

Always Know Your Next Career Move

Step 3: Maintain professional references. 

Keep a few professional references at the ready to ensure your preparation for any unexpected opportunities. Professional references may help you identify and recognize your strengths as well. Since professional references may speak on your behalf, you should understand their assessment of what makes you different from the competition along with areas for improvement.

Step 4: Keep your social media accounts professional at all times. 

Do not let social media accounts turn into a career management liability for you. Yes, recruiters and hiring managers look at these as well! 

Your Social Media Accounts Should Always Remain Professional

  • Conduct an online audit of all of your social media accounts. 
  • Close any accounts you no longer actively use. 
  • Review all posts and comments. Do they fit your brand and professional reputation? If not, delete them right away! Make sure all future posts and comments fit your “brand standards.”

Step 5: Understand human resources hiring trends.

Understanding the current challenges of human resources leaders and hiring managers offers a major career management competitive advantage. For example, what are recruiting, retention, and employee engagement issues impacting potential employers? Stay connected through websites such as through the Society of Human Resource Management to help candidates tailor their messaging more effectively.

How to Manage Your Career Over Time

Finally, what should you do over the long haul? Take a quick look. 

Step 6: Invest in your career.

Best-in-class career management knowledge includes specialized knowledge. You can’t just Google “career management” and interpret it in a snap. It also changes constantly. If you can’t keep up with all the items noted in this blog (we didn’t have room to include them all, either!) you may want to consider investing in your career with Campus to Career Crossroads. We can help you safeguard your employment and financial future!

Step 7: Make time to network.

A few networking events each quarter can keep you building and staying engaged with your contacts. Staying top of mind with contacts gives you a big career management win.

LinkedIn always provides an online networking platform to network on your schedule! It may give you an alternative to in-person networking events that conflict with work and personal family schedules. Schedule time each week to send messages 

Step 8: Set quarterly goals with calendar reminders.

Let technology help! A quarterly calendar reminder can ensure that you stay on top of your career management goals.

Calendar Reminders are Great for Career Management Reminders

Get Proactive About Career Management

A quick win: Do not let your amazing awards, project accomplishments, congratulation notes, and performance reviews turn into a fuzzy memory. Get started tomorrow. Remember, you want to dazzle the next hiring manager with your professional résumé, cover letter, branding, and LinkedIn profile with the best career management tools in your arsenal.

Do not tackle all of this on your own! Let Campus to Career Crossroads help you as a professional resource and accountability partner. We can help you take your career management goals to the next level. 

FAQs

What is meant by career management?

Career management means that you actively invest resources to accomplish the short- and long-term goals you set for your career. This involves careful planning, skill development, networking, building your personal brand, and more.

Why is career management important?

If you do not manage your career over time, it can cost you time and loss of income. If a job search takes an extra six to twelve months as you try to get up to speed, you can lose a lot of money in the meantime.

What are career management skills?

Career management skills involve all the collective moves you make to focus on your career. These can involve tasks such as keeping a success folder, updating your resume and LinkedIn profile, preparing for interviews, joining professional associations, networking, building your brand, maintaining professional references, and even keeping aware of human resources hiring practices and trends.

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