Are you stuck in a professional rut and are looking to change careers? Have you learned as much as you can from your current job and are simply ready to move on? Chances are, at some point in your life you will have a career change: while exact numbers are up for debate, US surveys show that most people will change careers between three and seven times in their lives. Before you make such a sweeping change, consider five factors that may determine your choices – and your success – in a new profession.
1. Refine Your Resume
Has your resume been sitting in a file folder or in an unopened document since you landed your current job? Not surprising, as the need to keep your resume up-to-date may seem like a rainy day task when you’re gainfully employed.
Nevertheless, today might be the day to take a fresh look at your resume and bring it back up to speed. If you are unsure in which career path you are headed next, this should be an activity to start narrowing down your choices. Updating your current and recent work experience will remind you what your key skills are, as well as what tasks and challenges you enjoyed – and what you didn’t – in your work. Focusing on these aspects will help you decide both what to highlight about your skills and to determine what you might want to pursue next.
Additionally, take the time to clean up old information, which is no longer relevant to your current applications. For example, a retail job from over 10 years ago may no longer have a place on your resume.
2. Practice Your Dining Etiquette Skills
When it comes to dining etiquette, business dining is a category on its own. Business dining incorporates etiquette for formal, informal and cocktail settings, and includes interview and conversational skills.
As your next interview may take place over a meal, brush up on your business dining etiquette skills even before you receive any interview requests. You will want to be confident in your knowledge of not only which utensils to use or where to place your napkin when you get up, but also when to talk business – or not – and field interview questions over dinner.
Key networking activities may also take place during a meal or at a cocktail reception, so keep your business dining etiquette skills sharp to make the most of these opportunities.
3. Network – Effectively
Simply put, networking isn’t as easy as it sounds. First, if you are looking to dive into an entirely new industry, you have to research extensively at what locations and events the most effective networking would even take place, and whom you should connect with.
Or, if you are looking for new opportunities within your current industry, the places where you should network might be more readily apparent – however, this does not mean no research is required: you will still want to make meaningful contacts in key organizations or companies, which will mean targeted thinking and planning in advance.
4. Polish Your Look and Manners
If you want new contacts in your ideal company or industry to take you into consideration, you must look and act like you are one step ahead of the game. First, make sure you have a go-to set of business suits, blouses, shoes, and other apparel and accessories that fit both you and the corporate culture well. This will help you to make a great first impression.
How you act influences a first impression as much as how you look. Ensure you are equally as polished in your business etiquette skills as in your physical appearance. At this early stage in a new career as well as throughout, your communication skills (including over email, phone and in person), interview etiquette and, as discussed above, dining etiquette, will all help your unique professional qualities look their best. To see how your etiquette skills rank, take the Corporate Class Inc. free Etiquette IQ test.
5. Clean Up Your Online Image
Before future employers get to know you in person, most likely they will get to know you online first. It is now routine for employers to check a candidate’s background on Facebook or other social media platforms before hiring. Additionally, LinkedIn is an invaluable tool for making professional connections and sharing your skills and work history with contacts.
Because of the myriad ways you can make a first impression online, be sure that your online accounts represent your best self. Keep your LinkedIn profile as updated as your resume, select a professional headshot for your picture, and clean up any questionable photos or language on your Facebook, Twitter, or other social media profiles. For a full guide on making the most of your online presence, we recommend Elizabeth Charnock’s E-Habits: What You Must Do to Optimize Your Professional Digital Presence.