The problem with job seekers is that they think like job seekers.  Just the words alone imply that getting a job is about seeking for jobs as if all one must do is search and find.  What happens after you find a job?  Do you apply and then hope things will go your way?  What happens once you land a job?  How do you progress in your chosen field?  Is it a matter of luck?

Job seeking is arguably the easiest part of the entire process of successfully becoming employed.  However, building a career is a much more complicated process that requires strategic planning to take steps toward an ultimate goal.  Preparing to enter a career field or to progress in a career field requires self assessment, research, goal setting, strategic decision-making and hard work sustained over time.  Having worked with many job seekers, I have come to realize this is not common sense.  Hoping for success will never replace working toward success.  One of my favorite quotes is from Aristotle who said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”  Success has nothing to do with being hopeful but rather habitual.  So, what should job seekers make habit if they want to achieve their goals?  Here are 5 tips:

  1. Self-Assessment - Self analysis is essential to understanding your skills, knowledge, abilities and values and is the starting point of finding how they can align with a chosen career.
  2. Research – You can’t have a plan if you don’t know what you are planning toward.  Career development requires constant research so you know where you are going and what steps are necessary to achieve your goal.  Research is the basis from which a plan can be derived and can come from traditional sources such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics or informational interviews.
  3. Goal-setting – Career management is like project management.  Take your ultimate career goal and break it up into milestones identifying what actions need to be taken to hit each milestone.  As each goal is achieved, you work closer to your ultimate career goal.  Your milestones are derived from your research.
  4. Perform – Career advancement means you must differentiate yourself from others.  Whatever you do, master your craft and be the best at it to stand out and advance.
  5. Continuous Self-Improvement – Don’t limit yourself to mastering the skills of your immediate job.  Seek opportunities to gain new experience, build new skills, and acquire new expertise.  This means going beyond continuing education but also volunteering, gaining leadership roles in professional associations, asking for increased responsibility and just getting involved.

Make these 5 suggestions habitual and you will see yourself climbing the ladder of success.  If you’re thinking this is hard work, it is but investing in yourself should be the easiest decision you make.  Just remember that if you want the return, you must put in the work.

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