November is National Career Development Month and there’s no better time to stop and reflect on your current career and professional development needs. Are you satisfied in your current job? Is it time to think about advancing or changing your career? Are you ready if the perfect job opened up tomorrow? Take a look at the list below for nine activities you can engage in to ensure that your career is on the right path and that you’re ready for whatever comes next.
Take a career self-assessment
No one knows you better than you know yourself, but self-assessment tools allow you to take a look at yourself through a different lens. They encourage you to analyze your interests, personality, values, and skills, and consider how all of those factors can impact your career satisfaction. Focus 2 is a free career and educational planning tool available to Excelsior College students and alumni. It maps the results from four assessments to Excelsior College degree programs and relevant occupations.
Explore an occupation you haven’t previously considered
Our observations within our own environment (family members, friends, communities, etc.) have a huge impact on the career paths we are exposed to. To help expand our knowledge of available options, we have to do a little research. This doesn’t have to be an intense research project, it could be as easy as reading one page of our career exploration resources or using the ‘Explore the Possibilities’ section within Focus 2. The more career paths you’re aware of, the better chance you have of finding the one that is a perfect fit for you.
Participate in an Informational Interview
Interested in learning a little more about a career than what one webpage can offer? Participate in an informational interview by talking with someone who is currently in your career field of interest and ask them about what they do and how they got there. You can start off easy by visiting Candid Career and watching one of 4,000+ short videos where folks describe their jobs, what they love about them, and offer advice for those interested in entering that field. Then, take it a step farther by finding someone you can talk to in person or over the phone. This article offers 12 questions to get your conversation started.
Update your resume & have it critiqued
You never know when your dream job will become available, so you should always be ready just in case! Dust off the old resume, make sure it’s completely up to date and targeted for the opportunities you are interested in. Take a look at the great resume resources in the Career Center as well as Vault to make sure you’re going to get noticed for the right reasons. Once you have a solid draft, submit it to our resume and cover letter critique services for current students and alumni. You’re the content expert for your resume, but it’s always helpful to have some extra eyes on it for editing.
Update (or create) your LinkedIn Profile
Whether you’re currently in the market for a new job, or just want to broaden your network, LinkedIn is an excellent resource. When you’re job searching it can serve as an extension of your resume where you can link presentations, videos, projects, and more. LinkedIn is also an excellent source of information related to various career industries. You can read articles from well known ‘influencers’ or have conversations within groups related to your career field. LinkedIn can also be an excellent way to add some positive, career related information into the mix when your name is searched online. LinkedIn also offers some excellent resources to get you started.
Log-in to EC JobLinks and search through registered employers and job opportunities
EC JobLinks is our online job search and career management resource. You can search millions of job opportunities and hundreds of thousands of potential employers using the NACELink Network Job Search. Even if you aren’t currently job searching, it’s a great way to identify skills and qualifications that are necessary for future job opportunities. Search for jobs that you could see in your future, identify what skill gaps you may have and consider how you will close those gaps and become a solid candidate in the future.
Attempt a Mock Interview
Another awesome tool in EC JobLinks is the Mock Interview Module. By selecting already curated interview questions based on your career field, you can practice your interviewing skills 24/7/365. It allows you to record yourself via webcam, review the recording, and even send it to others for feedback. Not only does this help you practice your responses to questions, but the recording allows you to check your body language, eye contact, listen back to your tone, and test out your tech (in case you’re prepping for a video interview). Interviewing can be super uncomfortable, so we often need all the help we can get when preparing.
Set some career goals and create an action plan
Are you unsure of what your short and long-term goals are? Looking into the future at your lofty long-term goals can be intimidating, but breaking that larger goal into short-term activities can make it much less intimidating. Consider the steps you must take to reach your goals and ask yourself these questions; what are some of the barriers you might face, do you have resources to help you surmount those challenges, when does each step need to be complete? Using the Excelsior College Action Plan, take all of this information and get it down on paper. If you have your goals laid out in front of you and can physically cross them off as you go, you can actually see your progress, and get a little extra motivation along the way.
Schedule an appointment with one of our career counselors
Speaking with a career counselor about your career goals, options, and questions can be a great help. Sometimes you may need to be pointed in the direction of specific resources and other times you may just need to talk out your plan with an objective third party. Excelsior Career Services offers free career counseling for all of our current students and alumni via professional counselors, like myself. We can discuss anything from choosing a career path and exploring your graduate school options to job searching, and professional associations. Counseling calls generally last from 15 minutes to an hour and can open your eyes to a wealth of resources and knowledge that you may not know you have available to you. Schedule your appointment today!