8 steps to take now to prepare for your next job

Fall is the perfect time to do some professional polishing up – even if you’re not ready to start looking for your next job just yet.

But hey – with hiring up and job satisfaction among millennials looking pretty bleak, now might be a good time to keep an eye out for greener pastures.

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Take these 8 steps now to make sure you’ve got everything in order for whenever you do decide to make your next career move.

1. Clarify your goals and audience

Before you sit down to write your resume or polish up your online presence, pause and consider these two fundamentals of strategic communication: what are your goals and who is your audience?

Are you angling for a promotion? A raise? A new job? A total career shift altogether? Keep your eye on the prize throughout the next 7 steps.

If you’re feeling pulled in a million different directions (hello, fellow multi-passionate people! I see you!) or are feeling ambivalent about which path to start down, do some deep reflection with a self-assessment tool like the Levo Thinking Talents App or the Bossed Up LifeTracker. 

Once you’re grounded in your goals, consider your audience. Who are the stakeholders? The gatekeepers? The people you need to persuade to get to where you want to go? What do they love – and what do they loathe? Keep reminding yourself what it’s like in their shoes and you’ll be irresistible to those you’re wanting to woo.

2. Rock your resume

Now that you’re clear on your goals and audience, it’s time to take a crack at the all-important resume. Make sure your resume focuses on your most relevant experiences, achievements, and skills as they relate to your goal.

More is not always better. Keep it concise, clear, and focused on showcasing how perfect you would be for your dream position.

Other superfluous experiences and skills might just be taking up space and adding to the clutter and chaos. Content matters, to be sure, but so does style. So keep things simple, embrace a healthy amount of whitespace, and take the time to design a resume that helps you stand out.

If you’re navigating a career transition, consider ditching the traditional chronological format and opting for a skills-based resume instead, which can help showcase your transferable skills when making the leap.

3. Write an objective statement

With your goal and audience in mind, write a simple 1-to-2 sentence objective statement about who you are and what you’re looking for. Even if you don’t have space to include this in your resume, you’ll find this little paragraph comes in SUPER handy when writing future outreach emails, cover letters, and more. Think of this as your personal headline and tagline that spells out:

Who you are:

“Mid-level project manager with extensive digital communications skills…”

And what you’re looking for:

“…seeks a fast-paced team environment with the opportunity to make creative contributions and take on strategic communications project management.” 

This single sentence (or two) should leave a complete stranger understanding the basics of who you are, what you’re good at, and what the must-have’s are in the next opportunity you’ll take.

4. Snap a new headshot

In today’s digital job market, a shiny new headshot can have a bigger impact than you might think. And no, this isn’t just relevant to Instagram models and life coaches.

One of the biggest benefits you’ll experience from a polished, professional headshot is the increased visibility on social media. Facebook and LinkedIn’s algorithms LOVE sharing your new profile pic – it’s baked into the algorithm and means that you’re likely to get a flurry of attention when you update your photo there. Take advantage of that likelihood by updating your social media accounts with your new headshots around critical moments in your career.

I recommend enlisting the help of a professional photographer to make your headshots session worthwhile, but that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank. Watch my interview with my very own headshots photographer to gain insider tips and learn how professional portraits can boost your personal brand.

5. Prep your online presence

Now that you’ve got a new set of snazzy headshots and wrote out your objective statement, it’s time to put them out into the world.

For message continuity, add the same headshot and snippet of your objective statement to all your social media platforms. Go through and do a cleanse to make sure nothing you’ve posted would completely turn off prospective employers (or at the very least, lock up those privacy settings like woa). If you can, start sharing any recent projects or work achievements you’re proud of as a subtle way to start showcasing your skills, too.

If you want to keep your job search on the down low (because you’re still collecting that paycheck from your soon-to-be former employer), I totally get it! Just leave out the part of your objective statement that lists what you’re looking for next.

Social media is a powerful tool for your professional brand. Use it.

6. Learn to tell your story

As you start to “get out there” and talk with other industry movers and shakers about your next moves, you’re going to want to be comfortable sharing who you are and what you’re looking for without putting people to sleep.

Seriously, do not imitate a walking, reading resume. No one actually wants to hear you talk them through your chronological career path. Snooze.

Instead, tell an actual story that explains who you are and what you value.

7. Network #likeaboss with 1:1 meetings

Once you’ve practiced telling your personal story, put it work with effective networking meetings. I’m a big believer in this formula for 1-on-1 meetings that don’t waste time.

Focus on building relationships with mutual benefit, so prepare to share your story and hear from others about their motivations and current needs. Come with a clear ask in mind, but also be radically generous with whatever resources you have to spare.

8. Start your search the smart way

When it comes time to officially start the search, make the most of those authentic relationships you’ve been building by explicitly asking folks to keep their ears to the ground for you and let you know what opportunities they hear about.

Ask for feedback about how you might position yourself as an asset to the organizations you’d love to work for. Ask for what skill-building courses, conferences, or trainings, might leave you in a stronger position, too.

Be persistent and seek out communities of accountability, courage, and support to keep you going through the slog of the often painfully slow search process.

When you get your polished professional assets in place, are continuously growing your community, and position yourself as a strong candidate in the job market, it’s just a matter of time before you find your match.

This article originally appeared on BossedUp.

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