There are certain times in life when it pays to look at what you have and be happy with it—rather than angle for a shiny upgrade.
Your old, reliable car fits this bill. So does your perfectly fine tablet or iPhone. (Be honest: Do you really need the newest model with the ever-so-slightly bigger screen?)
For most of us, however, jobs are an exception to this rule.
No matter how much you love your gig, it pays to keep your options open for other opportunities and higher salaries, says Jill Jacinto, Associate Director of WORKS, a company focused on helping women reach their career goals.
That’s not to say you should constantly be in job-search mode, particularly if you’re learning and growing in your current role. But it’s a good idea to continuously try and improve your ability to get a job—even when you’re not actively looking.
As Jacinto notes, “you never know where the next opportunity will come from.”
So whether you’re in full-on search mode, just starting to check out job sites, or perfectly happy to stay put, here are seven simple ways you can boost your hireability in just one week.
Monday: Hack Your LinkedIn Profile
Kick off the week by supercharging your online resume and LinkedIn profile by seeding them with words and phrases people in your industry like to see.
“Recruiters and hiring managers often use automated tools to find keywords in your resume or your social networks,” says Mark Jones, Senior Vice President of Alexander Mann Solutions, a talent acquisition and management outsourcing company in Cleveland, Ohio. “So look for distinct keywords in postings for jobs you’d like to have and are qualified for, and make sure to use them in your resume and LinkedIn profile.”
For example, you might use phrases like “market analysis” and “contract negotiation” for a marketing or sales job. And phrases such as “Securities and Exchange Commission” or “10K reporting” may be good for a financial analyst position.
Just be sure the terms accurately describe what you’ve done, adds Jones. If they do, feel free to repeat them four, five, even six times throughout your profile, especially if you’re going for a position that requires very specific skills.
“It’ll make you more likely to land in a recruiter’s candidate search,” Jones says.
Tuesday: Help Someone Else Land a Great Gig
If a valued friend or colleague is on the job hunt, work your network for them.
“It’s a great excuse to reach out to former contacts and put yourself at the front of their mind—while helping a friend, you’re also reminding people what you are up to,” says Beth Bridges, author of Networking on Purpose: A Five-Part Success Plan to Build a Powerful and Profitable Business Network and founder of The Networking Motivator. “It also helps position you as someone who is community-minded, self-motivated, and a great networker.”
If you become well-known in your network for being willing to connect people, pass along job opportunities, and share people’s job searches, there’s a good chance you’ll become the “go-to person” whenever there’s an opportunity.
Translation: It’s a great way to become the first to know about openings, especially those that don’t get advertised.
Wednesday: Assess Your Worth at Work
Get a handle on exactly what and how much you do in your current job so you’re ready to articulate examples of your leadership skills, project management, and other desirable attributes that future employers will appreciate.
Plus, says Jacinto, having these talking points at the ready can also help you in your current role—say, at your next performance review.
So make it a point today to write down everything you do at your job and break it down into different tiers of expertise, says Jones. For example, managing a $250,000 budget is in a different tier than hiring and managing freelancers.
Next, articulate the successes you’ve had that helped the company. Did you produce more than expected given your budget? Do you have a track record of hiring and training interns who go on to get full-time jobs at the company?
And if you are just starting out in your career, Alfred Poor, author of 7 Success Secrets That Every College Student Needs to Know!, suggests writing down what he calls your STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) stories.
Ask yourself these key questions: What was your work situation? What was the task that you were assigned (or identified on your own) to solve? What action did you take? And what was the result, preferably something measurable?
“This is a great way to remind yourself of situations that prove you can apply your skills and knowledge to produce a positive contribution,” Poor says. “And if you don’t have many to reference at work just yet, it’s OK to pull from internships.”
Thursday: Reboot Your Online Reputation
In honor of Throwback Thursday, take some time to start cleaning up your public postings across social media, says Bill Fish, founder and President of ReputationManagement.com.
Start by Googling yourself in every possible way—see what comes up when you type in your name and where you currently live and have lived, and even what pops up in image and video searches. Then do the same using other browsers, such as Bing and Yahoo.
“If you find anything you’d rather potential employers not find, take it down,” Fish says, adding that it’s particularly important to focus on removing anything that makes you come off as negative or a complainer. While you may not be able to completely refresh your online identity, it’s a good first step.
Once you’ve done this sweep, start seeding the internet with what you do want potential employers to find.
You might add a friendly—yet professional—photo to your various social media platforms. “You could also start a LinkedIn discussion or even a new, work-focused public account to share smart observations about your industry,” Fish says. “It can show potential employers that you are on top of what’s happening.”
Most importantly, be your best self. “When you make a good impression online—no matter how brief it is—it can show people who they’ll meet in real life,” Fish says.
Friday: Ask for Props From Trusted Colleagues
Take advantage of a mellow Friday lunch hour to think about former co-workers and managers who’d be willing to rave about you. Then send them a quick email asking for a testimonial, suggests Fish.
“It’s one thing to say something complimentary about yourself,” he says, “but it’s another when someone you worked with pays you the compliment.”
To keep things quick and easy, you could remind them of a success you had while you worked together, or even forward a complimentary email your old boss once sent that you stashed in an email folder.
“It’s important to keep in mind that you may have to remind these people of details, particularly if it’s been a while since you worked together,” Fish says.
He also advises against sending an impersonal “write a recommendation for me” request via LinkedIn. “Odds are you’ll get better testimonials if you reach out to your connections with a personal note,” he says.
Once you’ve gathered your recommendations, make sure they appear on your LinkedIn profile and upload them to your personal website, if you have one.
Saturday: Do Reconnaissance on Wish List Employers
The number one thing you can do to help guarantee that you are among the top five candidates? Be passionate and incredibly knowledgeable about the job and the company, says Jacinto.
So choose one company you’d love to work for and start studying where they are in the market by reading press releases, reviewing annual reports, following the company on social media, and looking for editorials by key players at the company.
“It’s hard to fake it when it comes to authentically understanding a company and the products they offer,” Jacinto says. “So get to know their growth trajectory, the top players, recent product releases, and their competitors.”
You might even consider signing up for their services or downloading the company app to get a true feel for what it offers—so you’re able to genuinely express your thoughts on the brand when you do land an interview.
Sunday: Research Career Development Ideas
Spend a couple of hours on Sunday morning looking into helpful continuing education offerings or certifications that will not only improve your skills but also help make you look like someone who values staying on the cutting edge of your career.
If you don’t have the bandwidth in your schedule for ongoing classes, you can also look for industry conferences to attend or even one–off courses that’ll keep you up to date on the latest developments.
“It’s a great way to show an employer that you’re committed and eager to grow,” Jacinto says, “and a fantastic way to network with others in your industry.”
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