6 Steps to Advance Your Career in Any Job Market

It’s easier than you might think to increase your career opportunities, even in today’s highly-competitive job market. By implementing these six simple but essential strategies, you can achieve the career advancement you desire:

1. Education & Training – Regardless of the education you’ve previously attained, you must stay current to stay competitive. It’s no longer enough to have a bachelor’s degree and be able to type 60 words per minute on your resume. Nowadays, you need to stay current on all software programs, services, techniques and industry standards related to your field. You also need to understand and use the industry jargon appropriately to showcase your wide knowledge base. Many community colleges, universities, trade schools and business clubs offer continuing education and most courses can be completed quickly, which also means bolstering your resume swiftly. NorthOrion.com (http://www.northorion.com/careers) is a great resource for researching additional education and career options that can enhance your career.

2. Keep Your Resume Current, Polished and Posted – Your resume should reflect all of your education and experience, including on-going training and certifications you’ve completed, computer programs you know and industry-related achievements. Your resume should be posted on popular job websites so that potential employers may even come to you with offers. You should also have different versions that are career specific, particularly if you are qualified for multiple fields, such as advertising, marketing and public relations. In this case, you will want to use the appropriate industry terms and focus your resume and cover letter to the duties specific to each field.

3. Stay in the Game – No matter how much you love your current job and can’t imagine leaving, if you have career advancement aspirations, you simply must keep your resume in play and your job hunting active, even if at a much-reduced pace. You never know what opportunities you may be missing if you never look. Many career sites offer email notifications with job types that you request to help reduce your search efforts. Aside from keeping your resume current and your ear to the ground for opportunities, you need to remember to keep your references current with as much information as possible for each contact. Finally, it’s a good idea to join industry or general business clubs and associations in your area to stay abreast of opportunities and grow your network. Local charities are also a great place to expand your networking circle.

4. Take it High Tech – When it comes to staying competitive in today’s market, there are many, many tools available online, and you are forfeiting opportunities if you don’t partake. At a minimum, you should have a professional resume posted on popular career websites at all times. A wise and motivated career-minded person would also take advantage of the vast social and professional networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Those are free and popular venues where potential employers might find or research you in consideration of employment. Be sure that you keep your social networking sites free of any offensive, non-professional content or protect your information so that only certain people can see it as you determine. Remember, the public may still be able to see basic information, so be sure that anything public portrays you in a positive light. Many go-getters also create their own websites or blogs featuring their accomplishments, work samples, contact information, polished resume and so forth. This is a great way to showcase your talents and should be included on your resume along with your phone number and email address.

5. Make a Plan and Stick to It – As trite as it may sound, it is essential to make a 5-year plan of what you want your career advancement to be. This should be a very specific plan with measureable goals, milestones and timelines. Most importantly, you need to review, revise and revive your plan at least once per year, preferably quarterly. The more you keep your goals in mind, the better things will go and easier it will be to will attain them. Talk openly with your supervisor about your goals and how you might meet them in your current job. Many employers will appreciate your ambition and work ethic and will welcome the opportunity to hand off more responsibility. If you find you won’t be able to meet your career goals at your current job, then it’s time to put more effort into looking for another job that will help you get where you want to go.

6. Be the Best – Regardless of what you do for a living or how slow the economy is, if you are the best at what you do, you will always find rewards. They may not be immediate, but you will build your reputation for excellence, and that is invaluable in the long run. This will increase your marketability and help you earn more wherever you work. You will also gain notoriety with superiors, colleagues and perhaps even competitors, all of whom are essential networking sources and potential resume references. You will also be well prepared for job interviews with increased skills, knowledge and confidence.

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