Marketing gurus keep teaching us how a firm could ‘engage’ better. Contrariwise, what could we learn from the firms to improve the way our “profiles” were able to ‘engage’ with the right set of opportunities? In a world full of talented people, how could we stand apart? I jotted down my top 5 ideas on how to make your profile more “valuable” in the career marketplace. This is based on external research and my personal experiences in the professional world.
1. Setting goals on paper: A Harvard study pointed out that 13% people who had goals earned on an average twice compared to the ones who had no goals at all (more stats). I’m using this as my 2014 goal mapping inspiration. From my own experience as an interviewer I can tell you nothing is more off-putting than candidates not knowing why they’re there. Clichéd as it may be, but people do often want to know what your goals are. This gets manifested into questions like- what attracts you towards a certain opportunity, why should you be considered for a certain role, how you would see yourself in the next 3-5 years in your career etc. Goals can help in multiple ways a) Give you motivation to adhere to them (thus written work better) b) Develop a workable plan to achieve your goals c) Monitor how well you’re doing on your goals d) Define your story- where are you headed and what’s your big picture? e) Help you define a ‘starting point’ and ‘visualize’ interests better.
I made a goals list in 2011 and listed down all sorts of goals till 2014 to understand what would make me happy (I even named it the ‘Happy life excel sheet’). So far I’ve managed close to 80% of those (and that’s a big motivation for another list). Every time I choose to do voluntary work, internships, write- going back to the goals list makes sure I align to my ‘big picture’ and I use that to build my ‘story’ further. People with an awareness of what they want and with the zeal to achieve are very attractive and valuable to the employer.
2. Active inspiration sourcing: co-working- Most companies will report how hiring the right set of employees in the first place leads them to a cycle of success. Take Google, Twitter as examples- they innovate because they create the space to allow their employees to be creative and hire the best minds. There’s a saying I often hear that you tend to become similar to the 5 people you spend the most time with. This is definitely true for your career too! It comes down to ‘hanging out’ in the right groups, spending time with people who inspire you towards your goals, and sharing a creative co-working space (when possible) and working on group projects (even voluntary) with others to learn more and share your own insights. With social you don’t even need to be in the same location! I remember working on a digital media project and collaborating with an artist from Indiana in the US, while I was sitting in Delhi, India all through the Internet. The project went straight into my resume and more importantly I suddenly had additional skills like “leading cross-cultural digital projects virtually”. It’s totally upon us to harness that power of connection and collaboration!
3. Strength-based learning: I am a firm believer in strength-based learning at all levels of your career. This means it’s more beneficial for you to list out your strengths and develop a career plan on ‘how’ you can use your strengths to develop your future career graph. There are many ‘tools’ that can help you analyze your personality types/ strengths. I used the MBTI test at my last job. Apart from understanding myself it allowed to see my co-workers in a new light. Knowing your strengths will catch the attention of a prospective employer who will like that confidence and plan you have going for you!
4. Play the role that you aspire for: In my last job the belief was that to be ‘promoted’ you already need to be ‘playing’ the senior role. It means you need to be ‘ready’ before anyone can hire you for a dream job. I remember working with a fresh college grad and one of the things that I had to ‘challenge’ him on was his persistent habit of using ‘text speech’ in office (‘ur’, ‘u’). My advice to him was that if he wanted to be taken seriously, he needed to act so. This can of course differ depending on your workplace, but you need to be aware of what goes. I’d rather be formal and boring than to be taken as someone with no seriousness. This applies to dressing (up) for office as well. You need to be the right fit for that dream role and that may require homework.
5. Show gratitude, be kind- Recently I was having a conversation with a friend and we were talking about ‘who we would love to have on our teams’. We both realized (and we’re not the only ones) that kind, personable teammates even with ‘average skills’ are far nicer to work with than arrogant, over-confident people with 5 pages worth of ‘listed skills’. Showing gratitude and avoiding irreverence at a workplace is not old-fashioned. If we’re spending over 8 hours at work, we want to be with people who mean well.
I hope these tips are of use. I’d love to have feedback and additional ideas that you may have for all of us to benefit from!