Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Fresh Start – Make an Annual Strategic Plan for Your Career

September 6th, 2011

This weekend the temperature in our neck of the woods plummeted, and suddenly it was Autumn. Despite what the calendar says, to me the start of the new year always coincides with the start of the school year. Although it’s been (unspecified number of) years since I was in school full-time, I still get that rush of excitement that comes from preparing for a new year – buying the right supplies, picking out the wardrobe, deciding on courses, preparing to meet old friends and renew summer-lapsed friendships. In fact I spent the last few weeks updating my strategic business plan and refining the services and programs that I will be offering to my clients this year.

Whether you are running your own business, freelancing, looking for a job or in a steady career, September is a great time to take stock and make an annual strategic plan for your career.

Make an Annual Strategic Plan for Your Career

Make an Annual Strategic Plan for Your Career

  • Do an annual retrospective: what worked for you, career-wise, over the past year?  What accomplishments are you particularly proud of? What obstacles were you able to overcome? What kudos did you receive? What didn’t work so well? What feedback did you receive that made you sit up and take notice? What parts of your career feel stagnant, or worse, toxic? What steps do you need to take to further the successes, overcome the obstacles, and ensure that professional development needs are addressed?
  • Define career goals for the coming year: What do you want to accomplish professionally over the next 12 months? What can you do, and should you do at work to move your career ahead? What can you do, and should you do, outside of work hours to move your career ahead?  Is it time to make a move, and if so, do you have a clear idea of your most logical next career step?
  • Update your career marketing material: If somebody asked you for a copy of your resume, would you be able to give them one? Do you know which of your accomplishments make you most marketable in today’s job market?
  • Update your industry knowledge: Do you know the emerging trends and industry dynamics that are most likely to impact your company, your clients and your career this year? Do you know who the thought leaders are in your field, and where to find them?
  • Refresh your network: Do you have a database of contact information for your network? Are you keeping it up to date? When was the last time you exercised your networking muscles (they go stale pretty quickly if you don’t use them on a regular basis)? do you have lapsed contacts that need to be renewed? Which five to ten people would you like to catch up with, and what is the best time/place to get this done? Are you a member in name only of your professional association? What industry and professional events are coming up this year that you should make a point of attending?
  • Review your IRL image: Do a wardrobe check – are there missing buttons, frayed seams? Are there favourite pieces that really should retire to the great donation heap in the sky?  Does your makeup and hairstyle make you look tired or dated? Have somebody take a picture of you from behind – are you comfortable with what you see? Are you a member of a gym in name only?
  • Review your online image: What about your online image? If somebody searches your name online, will they get an up-to-date impression of who you are and what you have to offer? Do you have a profile in ZoomInfo, Pipl, Does your LinkedIn profile reflect where you are today in your career?

Create an Annual Strategic Plan for Your Career

Using the above information, define specific goals and action items for the coming year. Formalize them in your calendar with reminders, deadlines and deliverables. Pace yourself and prioritize, you don’t have to tackle everything at once. If you are having trouble getting started, consider working with a career coach who can help to get you on the right track.

    Whether it’s time for radical change or incremental progress, creating an annual strategic plan for your career can help to ensure that you don’t get stuck in a rut and continue to have the knowledge, skills, networking connections and professional reputation to keep you marketable and in demand.


    How to Ruin Your Brand at the Press of a Send Button

    August 16th, 2010

    Grandma knew the importance of brand management. In Grandma’s days, children were not allowed out of the house with holes in their underwear for fear of the proverbial ambulance ride. Housewives cleaned thoroughly under their beds and chesterfields lest dust bunnies be discovered and whispered about. Business owners were careful not to do anything that could alienate their local customers. Grandma and her compatriots did brand management by instinct, although they called it protecting one’s reputation. Small-town living made brand management a matter of every day survival.

    The internet is moving us back to the imperatives of small town living. We are in a global village where reputations can be ruined at the speed of light. The examples are numerous: an instant of road rage, captured on traffic cam, forever brands the corporate executive as a lunatic. An ill-considered comment forever brands the politician as a moron. A funny caption on a Facebook picture forever brands a jobseeker as a problem-drinker. Fortunately, we seem to be taking heed of these brand accidents, and many of us are paying attention to our online footprint.

    After years of social media and email debauchery, we are re-learning the value of circumspection. At least, some of us are. Today I was cc’d on an email to a local volunteer about a dispute the sender was having with a recreational sports organization in which they were both involved. The email was angry and inflammatory, verged on slanderous, but anybody who has experience with volunteer-run sports leagues will recognize it as par for the course. What was unique was that the sender elected to cc dozens of other people who were not involved in the dispute – myself included – and signed the email using her professional position as the owner and president of 25-year old small home services firm.

    This business owner had done the email equivalent of going out with hole-filled underwear, exposing her dust bunnies, and alienating her local customers. While I’m sure that it was emotionally satisfying in the moment to craft her email and press the send button, it was clear that the sender did not consider the long term impact of her email message. She had just announced to nearly one hundred households in her target market that, as president of her company, she was somebody who was prepared to resort to mud slinging and petty tactics.

    And as Grandma will tell you, a reputation once ruined cannot easily be mended.


    Jobseekers, Don’t Put All Your Eggs in the Social Networking Basket

    December 16th, 2009

    egg basketAs with many of my blogs, I will begin with a true confession. I’m a Twitter junkie. I enjoy exchanging banter and ideas with industry colleagues around the world. I use Twitter instead of RSS feeds to find interesting articles, blogs and people. I have lists of hundreds of recruiters and career services professionals that I follow daily. I am also on LinkedIn, and have a Facebook page for my business. So the advice I’m about to give may seem strange coming from me. But here goes.

    Jobseekers, Get off the Computer Already!

    The media is abuzz with news on social media, and a day rarely passes when some headline grabbing article doesn’t tout social networking as the next miracle cure for your job search. Don’t drink the kool-aid.

    As somebody who is old enough to remember, it has the same hyped-up do-it-now-or-die, if-you-aren’t-doing-it-your-out-of-the-loop feel as the late 90’s when financial advisors pushed companies as must-haves in your investment portfolio. Sure, there are stories of people who social-networked their way to a new job, just as there used to be stories of dot.coms that actually made money. But now, as then, genuine success stories are few and far between.

    On the job search front, you will find that the social-network-to-success stories tend to have a few things in common. The position for which the job seeker was hired had Social Media somewhere in the job title, or at a minimum in the first paragraph of the job description. More often, the job seeker actually found the job through connections they cultivated offline, but social networking helped to strengthen their credibility.

    The real risk of social networking is it’s capacity to suck up hours of time in a blink of an eye, and at the end of a day spent entirely on the computer, you may be no closer to your job search goal.

    Does that Mean You Should Abandon Your Social Networking Efforts? Absolutely not!

    Social Networking is a useful tool in your job search arsenal. When somebody Googles your name, you need to be findable, and not just in your cousin’s wedding pictures. When a recruiter Boolean searches keywords in your area of expertise, you need to rank high in the search returns. The contributions you make to online conversations, the information you share, the contacts you make can go a long way to cementing your reputation as must-hire candidate.  Some of the contacts that you make online can evolve into strong, positive connections in the real-world.

    But Social Networking needs to be one arm of a well thought out and executed job search strategy that includes cold calling companies (read Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0 for innovative ideas on how), conducting industry research so that can identify and even create opportunities, attending industry events, lunching with former colleagues and clients, and giving back to the community.

    My Social Networking Recommendation for Jobseekers

    Schedule time for social networking, and when the time is up, have the self-discipline to push away from the computer. Spend time each day working on the real-world connections that result in job offers. If you don’t, then chances are that while your job search competitor is being on-boarded for his new position, you will be trying to unglue eyelids that have lost the capacity to blink.


    Meet Karen Siwak

    An award-winning Certified Résumé Strategist, Karen has crafted top calibre career transition packages for thousands of clients. Her specialty is helping people identify and articulate their unique brands and value propositions, and she is passionate about empowering clients with the tools, strategies and confidence to take control of their career search. Read more...

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