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Position Yourself for Growth

January 01, 2012
Ken Pelczarski
Career Coach Column, TLT

Position Yourself for Growth

Are you doing all you can on a regular basis to advance your career?

Each of us has our own career goals, which can vary greatly from one individual to the next. Examples of goals include:

  • Manage other professionals
  • Advance into upper management
  • Climb a technical ladder
  • Work on cutting edge technology
  • Start a business
  • Become an industry-recognized
  • Make a lot of money
  • Work for an industry-leading
  • Change industries or careers.

Several of these career goal examples do not necessitate a job change, while others may require that you consider opportunities with a new company. It does not matter if you are happy with your current employer, unemployed, running your own business or working outside your primary field or in a part-time or temporary role. The same principles for positioning yourself for career advancement apply regardless of your employment situation. Listed below are excellent ways to position yourself for career growth.

Network. Whether or not you are searching for a new career opportunity, engage regularly in this crucial activity to tell others who you are, your career status and your interests and capabilities. Effective networking involves a two-way exchange of ideas, information and assistance. Avoid asking directly for a job.

Build relationships. Cultivate as many close industry relationships as possible for mutual support down the road. Show that you can work with difficult people. Avoid burning bridges.

Be visible. Attend technical meetings, trade shows, annual meetings, industry social functions and other events. Display industry involvement and dedication.

Create a personal branding statement. Compose a short, powerful marketing statement about yourself describing talents and benefits that you have to offer. Promote your ‘personal brand’ on a business card, cover letter, resume and social networking sites, as well as in professional conversations and interviews.

Build a successful track record. Do what it takes to succeed at whatever you endeavor. Take on difficult projects. Go the extra mile to meet a deadline. Stress to others your motivation to achieve at a high level.

Be a team player. Assist, delegate and give credit to team members. Help others to be successful. Refrain from being on your own mission.

Volunteer. Help within your company, industry societies and professional organizations. Obtain recognition for giving something back. Build new relationships and acquire new learning in the process.

Build solid references. Ideally former superiors but also peers, subordinates, customers and fellow volunteers. References should be able to vouch for work record, success history, character, work ethic and attitude. Request recommendation letters if possible, including through LinkedIn.

Publish and present papers. Showcase your talents, capabilities and willingness to share your knowledge by writing for industry publications and by speaking at local and national industry meetings.

Advance learning. Improve your knowledge and training by attending industry seminars, technical presentations, STLE education courses, local and college-level courses or by pursuing an advanced degree. 

Become certified. Improve your credentials, prove your industry knowledge and stand out in a crowded field by acquiring an industry certification such as STLE’s CLS, OMA and CMFS credentials.

Keep a current resume. Be prepared for opportunities even if you are not actively looking for a new position. Keep track of dates, responsibilities and accomplishments along the way instead of trying to remember information at a later time.

Maintain complete background records. Documents that may come in handy in employment situations include resume, cover letter, education transcripts, list of references, recommendation letters, performance reviews, writing samples, list of publications and presentations, non-compete and confidentiality agreements, awards, rankings and earnings history.

Career management is not a scientific process but one that requires constant evaluation and attention to increase the odds that you will reach personal goals throughout your career. The journey is not solo and involves consistent collaboration with other professionals in your field.

You may already be doing well with most of the points listed above, but it might pay to review these points since we can all use a career tune-up once in a while.

Here’s wishing you a smooth career journey!

Ken Pelczarski is owner and founder of Pelichem Associates, a Chicago-based search firm established in 1985 and specializing in the lubricants industry. You can reach Ken at (630) 960-1940 or at pelichem@aol.com.

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