Ghosts and goblins and witches – oh, my! Have you gotten into the spirit of Halloween? We at Career Collective have, but, of course, we see this "trick or treat" time through the lens of career management and job search. What fun metaphors this holiday provides us!
Does your career "costume" attract your target audience? I'm not talking about the clothes you're wearing, but the career brand you project by the way you talk, the professional groups with which you associate, and the kind of work behavior you exhibit on the job. While you have to be true to your authentic self, there is never a right time at work to be totally informal. Opinions of others of you do matter, so keep your politics to yourself, don't bash your boss or co-workers, and NEVER go into work with a hangover. Crying on the job is usually inappropriate, no matter how difficult it may be to hold back the tears. Habitually long lunch hours and other mismanagement of your time indicate a careless attitude toward your job responsibilities. And whatever you do, remember that your work computer belongs to your employer – don't use it for personal shopping, surfing porn sites, or goofing off because you're bored with your job. (Do I even have to mention why you don't use it for job search? Duh!)
OK, I hear you – you're not currently looking for a job, so why must you project any career brand at all? NEWSFLASH: No matter how secure you believe your job to be, you are always "on stage" auditioning for your next career role. Do I really have to re-hash the "no job is permanent" speech as we continue to crawl out of a crippling recession? Every worker wants security and stability, but these elusive conditions no longer exist, if they ever did. You must take charge of your career, making decisions and choices while still employed as you now is when you have emotional wherewithall to exercise sound judgment.
So, going back to your career brand, take a look at how you can build and weave your career plan for the life of your career, not just for filling the space between your jobs. At work, everything you do and everyone you meet become part of your career plan in some way. Be strategic – decide how you can integrate both into your next career move. Guess what – this means you need to discover what your next career move should be. Or do you want another career by default instead of by choice? (Note: A Career Coach can help.)
Cultivate your database of contacts. When you collect business cards, note on the back of them a connective word to trigger your mind to remember the individual. And then reach out to them later. A quick email, coffee break, or a lunch can start to build the rapport you need. Recently, I had a client who faced very little challenge in getting a new job when she was unexpectedly laid off. She went to her database and contacted everyone she knew. Voila! She was back at work – in her chosen field – in 30 days. Her lifelong, on-the-job networking paid off big time.
Constantly working on your career brand can become tiring. You will have to consider it your second job, deserving of your time, attention and hard work. I suggest keeping a tracking file – on your HOME computer – of what you do, when you do it, and with whom you connect. Keep it simple, but well-organized. Stay connected to the world outside your workplace by reading about current events, white papers from your field, and global business news (as well as local). We are entering the annual holiday season when you can make networking more frequent – take advantage of this time!
Bottom line: Discover your own way to set your career brand on fire. When you light it up, others will notice. Carve out your goals, then go after them by staying involved and engaged so your next job search is an easy one.
Wishing you career success in 2010!
And a safe Happy Halloween!
I am honored to be a member of the Career Collective, a group of careers experts who each month share their advice and tips to enhance the management of your career. Please link to their blog posts below. Your comments are invited and much appreciated. Follow our hash-tag on Twitter - #careercollective – as well as follow everyone's individual tweets on this month's topic of Halloween. You'll be surprised at all the free career advice and knowledge that is availabe to you!
Where Are the Wild Things, Anyway?, @WorkWithIllness
Is Your Job Search Making You Feel Like a Smashed Pumpkin?, @DebraWheatman
Hiding in Plain Sight, @WalterAkana,
Don't make these frightful resume mistakes, @LaurieBerenson
How Not to Be a Spooky Job Seeker, @heathermundell
A Tombstone Resume:Eulogizing Your Experience, @GayleHoward
The Top Ten Scary Things Job Seekers Do, @barbarasafani
Oh, Job Search Isn't Like Trick or Treating?, @careersherpa
Oh no. Not the phone!, @DawnBugni
Halloween Caution: Job Seeker Horror, @resumeservice
Boo! Are you scaring away opportunities or the competition? @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes
Your Career Brand: A Scary Trick or an Appealing Treat?, @KCCareerCoach
How to avoid mistakes on your resume, @Keppie_Careers
Sc-sc-scary Resume Mistakes, @erinkennedycprw
A Flawed Resume is a Scary Prospect, @KatCareerGal
Job Search Angst: Like Clouds Mounting Before a Storm, @ValueIntoWords
Does Your Career Costume Fit You?, @expatcoachmegan