Waiting for your career to just happen to you is not the way to be sure you get what you want. If you’re hoping for more from your job or hoping for better pay, there are steps you can take immediately to get started on the path to a new position, and many of them might not be as difficult as you might expect. Taking the next step can be overwhelming, but when you have a how-to guide, things will seem much simpler.

Start dressing for success

 If you’re looking to get yourself promoted to a new position, one of the best ways to boost your confidence and get yourself in the right mindset is to change the way you dress. Depending on your current job, budget, and the job you’re aiming for, this could mean a number of things. Sometimes, it is as simple as taking a little more care with your appearance, taking some time to style your hair and iron your clothes. In some environments, this can mean taking your business casual to full professional dress.

When you feel good about how you look, your performance and demeanor will reflect that. As a bonus, depending on what type of job you’re seeking, this new style may provide opportunities as you network, interact with executives, or work with clients from other companies.

 

Set a firm goal

 If you’re ready to take the next step in your career and make a real change, it is absolutely possible to do so. But nothing is harder to achieve than a vague goal. Creating a firm picture of where you are, where you hope to be, and what timeline you hope to achieve these goals on is the best way to create a plan and stick to it.

Your goal could be a number of things, but make sure it is specific. If you hope to work in a specific industry, or achieve a specific job title, then make that your goal. This will allow you to do the research you need to do to work toward achieving these things. If you are more concerned with income that is fine, start with a specific goal of what you’d like to be bringing in. This can be your starting point that connects you with a career match that will work with your skills and background, and provide the better pay you hope to receive.

 

Prepare your resume and cover letter in every way

 It may seem obvious that you’ll want to prepare you resume, but there are a number of steps that you need to take that you may not have considered. First, you’ll want a couple of different versions for your resume in almost every situation. Have a version prepared for each industry, job title, and level you’re considering applying to. You’ll also want to have each version handy in both Word and PDF formats, have each version fully proofread, and have a cover letter that corresponds with each.

 

Get a complete portfolio prepared

 Depending on your industry, you will want to have a portfolio of some kind prepared – if only as a reference for yourself as you interview and seek  jobs. This portfolio might include work samples, a list of your goals and achievements, projects that demonstrate your skills, and certifications of achievement. If you are working in an industry that doesn’t really make use of this type of work, still consider taking the time to review your work and past jobs, creating a list of achievements you want to share when the time comes.

As part of creating this portfolio, be sure not to neglect your LinkedIn profile, ensuring it is up to date and at a professional level. This profile is something potential employers will check, and gives you yet another place to create a professional impression. While you’re at it, be sure to take a look at all your social media accounts, and your complete online presence. Any potential employer will be sure to investigate you online, and you want to be sure to be creating the best impression.

 

Add some new skills while you search

 Nothing is more valuable than an employee that takes the time to educate themselves. Actively seeking new skills while you search for you look for your new job benefits you, makes you more employable, and goes one step further to show your potential employer your ambition.

Set aside a few hours each week to research your industry or your company, or take online courses. There are many free or inexpensive options you can try, such as www.Lynda.com, to find new skills to add to your resume, your portfolio, and your LinkedIn profile.

 

Look for opportunities within your own company

 It can be invaluable to promote from within, so if you work for a company that has a number of departments, and may offer you exactly what you’re looking for in terms of a change or a direct promotion, be sure to do some internal investigation. You may want to keep these inquiries to yourself until you’re sure that there may be an opportunity. Then, you may want to speak to HR, or your boss about opportunities to expand.

 

Make a list of job titles you’re interested in

If you’re interested in getting a job with better pay, or being promoted to the next level, it can be hard to know exactly what you’re aiming for, or how to figure out which titles you’re actually interested in. You can start by doing some basic research on job postings to see what strikes your interest, and move from there. You might also want to consider speaking to your superiors, or those you admire, for some advice on how to put this list together.

Not only will this list help you with your focus, and with creating the materials you need to apply, it will actually help you navigate company websites and career platforms much more quickly and efficiently.

 

Make a list of target companies you’d like to apply to

 If you have a list of dream companies, keep it handy. Regularly review their job boards, social media feeds, and LinkedIn profiles to be sure no opportunity to get your foot in the door is missed. If you’re not sure how to do this, one way to start is by reviewing best employer lists, and visiting review sites like www.glassdoor.com to find out more about who exactly you want to work with and work for.

 

Contact a recruiter or job connection specialist

 Depending on the job you have set your sights on, you may find it easier to work with a recruiting firm, or even get in contact with a headhunter or connection specialist to find your next position. This is particularly true if you are hoping to move to an executive level, or if you’re hoping to be hired within a very competitive field.

If your current job keeps you busy, or if you feel you could use the support with your search, do some research to see what services are available in your area and industry of choice. Working with a professional is likely to yield you more results, save you time filling in countless applications, and will ensure your focus is on the best opportunities.

 

Sharpen your interview skills

Interviews are a very strange situation. Very little time is allotted to sum someone up, decide if they have the skills and fit for the job, and evaluate if things will work out going forward. IT is no wonder that many people find interviews difficult, and often leave worrying that they have not presented their best, most professional selves.

If you’re on the job hunt, it is important that you be interview-ready. Research commonly-asked interview questions, and prepare your ideal answers for them. Go one step further and have a friend or professional conduct a mock-interview. With a little practice you’ll be set to showcase exactly what you have to offer, and less likely to be caught up in nervousness.

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