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How to Perform a 10-Step Career Tune-Up

The job market is rapidly changing. For example, a March 2008 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) claims that 63,000 non-farm jobs vanished from the American economy in February 2008. Some industries have been hit especially hard, such as manufacturing, retail, and construction. Other fields, however, continue to blossom, including health care and food service. Has today’s shifting economy prompted you to rethink your job? Whether you have been laid off or you are just interested in exploring new career choices, you should perform a career tune-up to widen your job prospects. Let’s examine ten great ways to whip your professional credentials into tip-top shape.

Step One: Analyze Your Current Job

You may justify an unattractive career situation by ignoring your low pay, nasty boss, or bleak advancement prospects. However, if you really want to find a secure, satisfying job, you need to be totally honest about your current position. Consider these questions:

Step Two: Create Reachable Goals
You can set two types of career goals: long-term goals and short-term goals. For instance, if you work in an office, you might set the short-term goal of mastering Microsoft Excel and the long-term goal of becoming office manager. When creating your goals, remember:

Step Three: Expand Your Network
It’s no secret that good relationships with your boss and co-workers can further your career. Additionally, your personal network can prove invaluable during a search for a new job. So how can you put together your network? Use these ideas:

Try not to directly request a job from any potential employers. Instead, ask for referrals, hints, advice, and information. A subtle approach to networking is frequently more successful than an aggressive, demanding method.

Step Four: Identify Any Job Skills You Need to Remain Competitive
Many employment sectors should have strong growth within the next decade. For example, the BLS reports that jobs in scientific, professional, and technical services should increase nearly thirty percent by 2016. However, even if an industry has amazing growth prospects, the best career opportunities are usually awarded to employees who keep pace with their industries’ changing technologies and job requirements. To stay competitive in your chosen field, you should first determine the skills you still need to work on. Next, you can find a training program that meets your needs. Many employers cover tuition for training programs directly related to your job duties–see if yours is one of them.

Step Five: Advance Your Education
Investigate the following educational options for improving your job skills:

Step Six: Rework Your Resume
If you are hunting for a new job, do not send out the same generic resume to multiple employers. Instead, you should tailor your resume for each company you apply to. Other helpful resume hints include:

Step Seven: Take Your Job Search Online
Although most people still find jobs through traditional means, you can also use the Internet as a helpful supplement to your search. Many useful career-oriented search engines exist to help you track down jobs. Also, more and more companies post available jobs on their Web sites’ online career centers.

Step Eight: Prepare for Interviews
You can practice for job interviews by composing thoughtful answers for common interview questions, which might include:

Step Nine: Assess Your Market Value
Remember, when you are searching for a job, you are marketing yourself as a valuable product. To enlarge your desirability for employers, you need to know how to promote yourself correctly. This may include dressing professionally, carefully researching your possible employers, and showcasing your unique professional talents.

Step Ten: Move Up in Your Current Career
Rather than uprooting yourself for a different job with new co-workers, you might just consider seeking a higher position at your current workplace. Not only can your salary rise and your responsibilities increase, you may boost your chances of hire if you eventually choose to reenter the job market.

If you decide that you need help rethinking your career, you should seek out a qualified career counselor. Make sure your counselor is certified by an official organization such as the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC).

Publish date: June 26, 2008