How to Improve Your Career While You’re Employed
So you’ve landed that job you were looking for . . . congratulations! Now that you’re gainfully employed, it’s actually the best time to make sure that you’re taking some steps to improve your career readiness.
After all, you never know when you’ll pick up that phone call offering you a fantastic opportunity—be it someone from within your own organization seeking a leader, an industry organization tapping you to serve as a committee member or even a local aviation group looking for a keynote speaker.
Whoever it might be on the other end of the phone, they’re going to want to know what you’ve done in the past, what you’re doing at present and, finally, where you’re headed and how you plan to grow your career to get there. So it’s always best to be prepared.
Here are a handful of handy tips to stay in peak career advancement mode while you’re employed.
Six ways to improve your career while you’re employed:
1. Update your resume and/or curriculum vitae ( CV).
You might not be looking for a new job at the moment, but things can change at the drop of a hat, and your resume is the first, most important document to have updated at all times. Many of our leadership-level candidates also use CVs. The difference? Resumes are usually no more than one or two pages in length whereas a CV is a fairly detailed overview of your life’s accomplishments, especially those most relevant to the industry involvement. These are recommended for tenured professionals who are vying for a senior-level position.
Whatever document you choose, keep it current. Have you added bullet points with your latest projects and successes? Does it include positive comments from your latest review? Are all the dates and little details correct? Do you need to add any new memberships or training, or update your flight hours?
It’s important to be specific and try and quantify your results. As a recruiter, I’m always looking to measure the degree of impact a business aviation professional makes on his or her company. Instead of simply saying that you “managed the budget,” get into the nitty-gritty a little more and list what you specifically did to impact the profit and loss statement. Rather than say, “I managed fuel contracts,” perhaps tell me that you “negotiated fuel pricing and saved 12 percent per annum over the past five years.” And, if you happened to have volunteered on a committee, what were your specific accomplishments in that role?
2. Ensure that your LinkedIn profile matches your resume.
In this digitally focused age, having an online career profile is becoming vitally important. In fact, more and more professionals use LinkedIn (and other online services) to vet an organization or an individual. Recruiters spend a lot of time searching for candidates online, which is why having keyword-rich content is valuable. If you’re aiming to be chief pilot, would a headhunter come across your profile if she/he was searching for a “captain,” “line pilot” or “pilot”?
What you say about yourself online might help you expand your network, make a good first impression on prospective new hires who are researching your organization, or even help you get tapped for a new opportunity—either with an industry group or your own firm. Having a presence on LinkedIn is much more than simply searching for a job, or maintaining an electronic “rolodex.”
Making a point to update your online profile and resume also helps increase your own self-awareness. Maybe you’re not doing enough to improve your career at the rate that you’d like. Maybe you’re feeling stalled. Maybe your résumé shows gaps in knowledge or training. Comparing your own LinkedIn bio with those of other people in your industry will not only help you refine what you say about yourself, it also is a great motivator to try and improve yourself while you’re still employed.
3. Join a mastermind group.
A mastermind group is a small gathering of like-minded industry professionals who come together to share best practices and/or gain new insights. It’s a great way to network and get the pulse of what’s happening in the industry. Examples include the Aviation Directors Roundtable, Chief Pilots Roundtable, Safety Roundtable, et al. If one doesn’t exist, start one!
4. Grow your professional network.
I recently wrote a blog about the benefits of building your network—especially when you’re not looking for a new job. I highly recommend the read and consider adding the task of “networking” to your to-do list on a weekly, if not monthly, basis. Here also a follow-up blog on how to take action when it comes to networking.
5. Educate your mind.
Take a class to build a skill that will help you improve your career and advance to the next position. Go back to school and finish your degree or consider getting an MBA. The benefit of being employed is that you might be able to take advantage of tuition reimbursement funds. If you’re not into classroom settings, make sure you’re reading the latest leadership and management books. My industry colleagues at Gray Stone Advisors compiled a great list in their blog, Reading for Leading.
6. Set and achieve your goals.
Hopefully, there are at least a few of these tips that are already on your goals-oriented to-do list. If not, I highly recommend creating a “goals to-do list” and make sure that you review it weekly. If you have particular values and aspirations that are not being met, it’s time to create an action plan that will set you up for long-term success. Also, the article on strategic goal setting might be helpful.
So there you have it: just a few easy ways to grow professionally and ensure that you’re positioned for success to improve your career. Even if you think that your next career step is in the distant future, you just might be surprised. It’s always best to be on top of your game and ready for anything.