Cultivate Your Career: Plant Seeds that Will Allow a Garden of Opportunities to Grow

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Spring is here, and in addition to planting your garden, it’s time to grow your career. It takes preparation and consistent care to get a bountiful harvest, and the same can be said about nourishing a flourishing career. What you do today will help you get the job you want tomorrow. Here is a four step plan watch your career goals blossom.

Layout Your Garden 

A successful garden is one that is properly designed and prepped. Doing the same for your career goals will allow you to define a career path that is easy to follow. Identify the steps you need to take to get to your ultimate goals, and lay out a plan as to how you are going to achieve them.  Your garden will grow with some simple planning, and so will your career.

Plant, and Water, Your Seeds 

Seeds don’t grow overnight; it takes time and some dedicated watering to help them sprout. While you may have a basic professional network in place on LinkedIn, putting some time into growing and cultivating it to your specific needs will pay dividends. Reach out to new people in your target industry, and look for those who have positions in your target companies. The more time you put into your network, the better results it will yield when it is time for harvest.

Prune Dead or Dying Branches

If a particular career path isn’t bearing fruit any longer, then it may be time to start cultivating some new shoots so you can stop pouring your valuable energy and time into a path that won’t take you where you need to go. Even if your current career path is bearing some meager fruit, you may still be better off looking for opportunities with the potential for larger or more desirable harvests down the line.

Harvest at the Right Time 

All the prep and care you’ve put into the garden will yield a wonderful bounty of fruits and vegetables when it is time to harvest, just as all the hard work you put into your network will pay dividends when it is time for a new job. Communicate with your network and outline what you are looking for. At the very least they will be able to direct you to job openings that may not be public yet, and they may even be able to get you into interviews before the job ad even goes public.

Want To Find Your Dream Job? Here Are Three Questions You Must Ask Yourself

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What’s your idea of a “dream job?” If you have that itch to try something new, it’s a question worth pondering before launching a job search.  Because your wants and needs evolve, what you considered your ultimate career goals may have changed over time. One of the best ways to pin down what you really want from your job is to ask yourself the following questions:

“What Do I Love About My Current/Past Jobs and What Would I Change?”

There is no doubt that while you love certain parts of your job, there are other aspects that you would change. When thinking about your dream job, break down both the positives and negatives of your job to get at what you actually like and dislike about it. This is especially important when it comes to things you would like to change, as it can show you hidden aspects of the job you may actually like. For example, you may dread working with other departments on a certain project because of an overall lack of communication between management. This means that you may actually love the idea of collaboration as long as there is full communication.

“What Would You Do If You Weren’t Being Paid?”

If money wasn’t a factor, what would you do with your life? Would you travel, read, volunteer, or spend most of your time building things in your garage? Of course, money is going to be a factor in any career decisions, but thinking about what you would like to do without salary concerns is a window into what you actually want to do. Consider jobs that involve these items that you love doing. If you love helping people, look for a job where you can make an impact.

“What Am I Good At?”

Leave your humbleness at the door for a second and consider the tasks that allow you to shine. Consider the types of duties that people specifically earmark for you at work, and the types of skills that your friends and family members turn to you for. Things you do exceptionally well tend to be the areas where you get the most satisfaction, meaning that they are a window into what will drive you in a new job.

The Art of the Stealth Job Hunt

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Searching for work while currently employed adds a little extra juggling, but don’t let that stop you from making the change your career needs. By mastering the art of stealth job hunting you can keep working while pursuing new opportunities where you will be happy and even more successful.

Use your own devices for your job search

Looking for work can be stressful; especially if you think your current employer may find out and replace you before you find a new job. To reduce the chance of that, make sure you aren’t using company email or internet connections that could be monitored. Compartmentalize the job hunt by setting up a personal email address for job search related activities, don’t use company phones to speak with recruiters, and don’t print out your resume at work.

Manage Your Time

We’re often asked whether it’s better to schedule interviews before or after work. The answer is that it depends. Before work, you may be fresher, but interviews can run longer than you expect, and you don’t want to be looking at your watch the whole time. After work, you may have less energy, and you increase the chance of being late to the interview, but once you get into the interview, you can give it your full attention and won’t have to worry about a ticking clock.

When scheduling the interview be honest and upfront about your work schedule and ask how long their interviews typically run so you can plan accordingly. For instance:

I am very excited about this opportunity. I am still working though, and I always give my employer 100% of my focus during work hours. My normal work day is between 7 and 4, and it will take 20 minutes for me to travel between your location and my work site. Do you have a sense of how long your typical first interviews run? Is it possible to schedule something after 4:30 so we don’t have to worry about the clock?

You may also want to consider using one of your vacation/personal days so you are free to focus on the interview without needing to worry about ticking clocks. This can be especially effective if you can schedule a block of interviews.

Keep your plans to yourself

A job search calls for effective networking, but be cautious about reaching out to people who used to work for your current employer. If that’s the only way into a target company, it could be worth the risk, but be aware that those people likely still have ties to other current employees and it could get back to your boss. To maintain confidentiality, put most of your focus on connecting with people you used to work with at other companies or family, friends, and current social groups who are not connected to your current employer. You can also use an agency like AppleOne that can conduct a confidential search on your behalf or just keep an eye out for positions that may interest you.

Be very conscious about how to communicate on social media – be careful about what you post, tweet, share, like, update, etc. Re-evaluate/update your social media account privacy settings and manage your broadcast settings. Throughout your hunt, branding yourself is a top priority – you will want to make sure your LinkedIn profile is 100% complete – but you want to be sure every update is not broadcast to all of your connections. On LinkedIn change your broadcast settings so all of your connections don’t see every update.