Five Ways Help Your Future Career Self Today

 photo via  Anthropologie

photo via Anthropologie

Today, especially if you’re a recent grad like me, there’s no shortage of conversation surrounding careers, connections, and the future. With so many opinions and so much advice it can be understandably challenging to even know where to begin.

Often times the advice we receive is conflicting: reach out to X person, or don’t reach out to X person, include Y in your resume, or don’t even think about including Y in your resume. In an effort to break through all that noise and help you create real change that gets you closer to your career goals, here are five concrete things you can do today in order to help your future self.

1. Update LinkedIn

I definitely underestimated the power of LinkedIn until my senior year of college. It’s like professional Facebook, except it’s not about connecting with your friends. Instead, LinkedIn plugs you directly into your professional industry (or the one you want to be in), connecting you with potential mentors, employers, or even just companies that fascinate and inspire you.

Take full advantage of this amazing platform by uploading a professional headshot, adding all relevant work experience, making connections with people you know (and people you’d like to know), and interacting with users and companies in your LinkedIn newsfeed. The more information you add, the more helpful this space will be in helping you land your dream job. Think of it as a digital CV.

It’s the perfect website to send employers to in order to give them access to all the amazing information you couldn’t fit on a one-page resume. Even better? You can find and apply to jobs on the website, streamlining your entire job search process at the click of a button.

2. Beef up your resume

Think of your resume as your one chance to make a first impression. You have to make it count.

While most people have enough work experience to fill up a few pages, your resume is a one-page document designed to highlight your best and most relevant work experiences and skills.

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In other words, it’s an elevator pitch, showcasing why you are the best candidate for the position. Employers will likely weed through tons of resumes that look and read the same, so it’s essential to figure out how you stand out from the competition. Keep it fresh, exciting, concise, and easy to read!

For larger companies, resumes will often be digitally reviewed by a program, and not by an individual. Because of this, it’s important be sure that your resume, like the digital space, is adhering to a kind of SEO and format that underscores keywords, skills, and experience.

This article on Money.com is a fantastic resource for all-things resume related. And, be sure that you’re updating your resume every couple of months to keep the information as current as possible.

3. Expand your network

We’ve all heard the phrase, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” and as much as we all may think this is unfair, I’ve found it to be mostly true. Connections will be your most valuable resource in the job search process. Because of this, expanding your network is crucial.

There are a number of ways to go about this, but I’ve found the easiest and most straightforward is starting conversations with people you know. It’s as simple as communicating what type of industry you’re interested in and asking if they know anyone in the industry who may be able to help.

I’ve certainly made the mistake of asking someone to connect me with another person, and then completely dropping the ball in terms of responding or reaching out. This was a hard lesson to learn, and has certainly taught me the importance of following through and expressing gratitude every step of the way. People want to help, but also want to feel valued and appreciated.

4. Create a website to showcase your work

If you’re interested in entering into any sort of creative field, having an online space to showcase your work is crucial.

Don’t want to build your own website? Consider buying a domain name from a website like Wix or Squarespace; they do all the grunt work for you. Upload photographs, graphic design work, writing samples, and more! Be sure that your website is clean, organized, professional, and easy to navigate.

Also consider adding a section that points to other spaces where your work has been featured (i.e. social media, websites, or print work) in order to really drive home your previous successes. Plus, having a website means your work can be easily shared on a business card, in conversation, or via email.

5. Send a thank you note

Even though the world is becoming more and more digitized each day, a handwritten thank you note will always trump any sort of online communication. There’s something about putting pen to paper and taking time to acknowledge how another individual has helped or inspired you that sets you apart from the rest of the pack.

Find stationery that is simple while also reflecting your unique personality or point of view. Thank you notes should always be sent after an interview, but are also great ways to convey your appreciation for a mentor, a contact, and any other professional connections you may have made along the way.

 

Do you have any advice for someone looking to advance their career? Share with us in the comments below!

 

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