Make yourself indispensable
To boost your value to an employer, you need to get yourself noticed for the right reasons. Look at ways of improving your skills, knowledge and attitude whilst also building on your relationships; understand your business and maintain a business-like attitude at all times; be proactive by offering practical solutions to challenges and work on expanding your network. In your job, strive to engage with projects that will provide the opportunity to build on those skills related to your current role and those relevant to your career path. Select projects that allow you to get in front of key business stakeholders – effectively showcasing your knowledge and determination.
Demonstrate, not assert
Any hiring, pay or promotion decision is primarily based on individual performance. Meeting targets, motivating a team, making good on development plans, being positive, loyal, reliable and determined to succeed, is what being a classic high performer is all about. Keeping your CV up-to-date is crucial, irrespective of whether or not you’re actively job hunting. Write in terms of action; describing what you actually did to achieve results in each situation. And remember, competency interviewers are very wary of answers that refer to ‘we’. A potential employer wants to discover what you bring to the party, not how great the team is that you are planning to leave behind. Get used to talking – even boasting– about what you do. The great thing about a competency-based approach is that it ignores job titles and takes no notice of how you might behave in a hypothetical situation; so if you’ve spent time re-filing your work life experiences in this way, you’ll be ahead of the pack in any interview situation.
Raise your profile
Network: get to know as many of your peers as possible through corporate social events, industry networks and professional forums. A strong corporate profile – within your organisation and across your industry – will position you as a favorable person to know. Having a prominent reputation will also mean your name springs to mind when career-enhancing opportunities arise.
Believe in yourself
In tough times, it’s very easy to get despondent, particularly when you may have been made redundant or have been out of work for a while. But, as competition for roles gets tougher, it’s crucial that you remain positive and confident. Take time to identify the skills and experiences that make you valuable to an employer and focus on showcasing these. If you have confidence in your abilities and believe you deserve that job or promotion, this will shine through. Likewise, a lack of self-confidence can be easily identified and if you don’t believe in yourself, who will? Remember, you are your own salesperson, and it’s up to you to highlight your strengths.
You’re unlikely to impress your current or future employer if your career demands vastly exceed what they can offer for you. While a clear focus and drive is essential, you need to be realistic and put your career aspirations into the context of the current market. Bear in mind that market conditions are constantly changing, and consequently your expectations may need to change with the times. If you can remain flexible and open minded, then your chances of fulfilling your longer-term plans are more likely to come to fruition.
In any market, it’s important to keep your focus and energy levels up. It’s been estimated that most of us work at just 65-70% of our potential, so it’s not hard to see that the real winners will be those who maximise their opportunities and keep themselves involved. Your lifestyle will help, so regular exercise, plenty of water, healthy eating and a good night’s sleep are all essential.
Build on feedback
Other people very often have a different perception of you than you have of yourself, so it makes good sense to check your development points with peers. Ask your boss for regular appraisals if you don’t already have them, debrief with your team after every piece of work, and ask your recruitment consultant for feedback on the best skills to demonstrate for your ideal step up. More importantly, take constructive feedback and build on it. Seek out the best possible ways of addressing, developing and up-skilling your competencies. That way you’ll soon fill the gaps that might otherwise hold you back from your next career step.
Choose your recruitment consultancies wisely
Effective relationships are important in any walk of life or business. The type of relationship that exists between a candidate and their recruitment agency could have a huge impact on your career. Sometimes less is more, so when it comes to choosing the number of agencies or recruiters that you want to use, do it carefully. Registering with several agencies may make it harder to build strong relationships with each of them. And in some circumstances, you may lose control over where your CV goes, so be clear on whether agencies have your consent to send it on to potential employers. Throughout your professional life, your own personal brand will be your best asset for career progression, so be sure to dedicate both time and effort into getting it right.