It’s a workday afternoon and you’re on the job hunt. You should be sending out CV’s and revising your cover letters, but your motivation is nowhere to be found. You try to muster up the enthusiasm to get to work but procrastination seems to be winning again. Does this situation sound familiar? If so, don’t worry – there are plenty of other things you can do to give your career a boost, without ever leaving your home!
Applying for a new job isn’t the only step you can take to have a positive impact on your career. Below are five simple things you can do today that will help you take charge of your career and your search for the ideal job.
1. Learn a new skill
Today, thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to learn a new skill or develop a competency that will help you to reach your career goals. Best of all, you can learn these valuable skills for free. For example, you could start learning to write code, which will allow you to build a website or application, simply by finding a good online resource (hello, YouTube) that offers instructions for free. You could also learn to use a new computer program, improve your existing knowledge in a field relevant to your career goals, begin learning a new language or master a second language that you already have a good understanding of.
Other than learning something completely new, you can also update your knowledge in your area of expertise, as there are always new developments happening in any professional field. It’s also useful to subscribe to newsletters or alerts to make sure that you are receiving the latest information about your industry.
2. Build, and refine, your online presence
You never know when a potential employer will happen upon your LinkedIn profile, Facebook page or your personal blog. With this in mind, it’s s a good idea to periodically review your online presence and bring it up to date, which may include removing any information from the past that doesn’t accurately reflect the person you are today. Add details about your recent work experience, achievements that you are particularly proud of, upload a new profile photo – anything that will improve the appearance of your profiles for potential employers. You can also take a moment to follow companies and join groups that are of interest to you.
3. Reach out to an ex-colleague
When it comes to searching for jobs, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of having a strong network of contacts you can check in with to find out about new opportunities. Effective networking isn’t only about meeting new people; it’s just as important, if not more so, to maintain existing relationships and connections if you want their help during a job search.
Take a look at the social profiles of ex-colleagues, classmates and clients to see what they are up to today. You can get in touch by sending an email; maybe mention a project they completed or congratulate them on a new job they started. Just communicating with someone can lead to a new and unexpected opportunity.
4. Identify organizations that you are interested in
Go online and check out businesses, government agencies or nonprofits that you admire and/or would like to work for. Try to identify what you could bring to the organization, in specific terms and see if there are any job openings that fit with your profile. Do your best to determine if you would be happy and comfortable working there.
Also, take some time to read the latest news about the company. Are they growing? Have they recently acquired another business? By learning everything you can about an organization, you can get a better idea of if they will need someone like you in the near future. As well, you can make sure that you never miss an opportunity by signing up for job search alerts from the organization.
5. Look 5 years into the future
It’s a useful exercise to ask yourself: what kind of job do you see yourself having five years from now? A good way to answer this is to take stock of your professional accomplishments to date, and decide where you would like to head in the future.
On LinkedIn, look for people with job titles that represent the type of position you would like to be in five years from now. Study their profiles to find out the experience, training, certifications or skills that you have in common, as well as areas where you need to increase your experience. Ask yourself how you could go about acquiring the credentials or experience needed to become qualified for positions you would be interested in.
This exercise will help you to determine the next steps you need to take in your career in order to get where you want to be in the future.