At Imprimis Group, we often see candidates with glowing employee reviews, who have been passed up for promotional opportunities or have fallen just short of landing better positions with other firms. In many of these cases, the employee was so diligent at work and so focused on meeting or exceeding the employer’s expectations that they didn’t make the most of available professional development opportunities.
To be a competitive candidate in today’s hiring environment – one that is starting to get a little more challenging – you must have multiple ways of demonstrating that you are at the forefront of your industry and at the vanguard of new practices, skills, and technologies. To be relevant, you’ve got to commit yourself fully to professional development, and to showcasing what you are doing to differentiate yourself. If you focus on these three areas, you should be able to break through your career plateau in short order:
- Gain Professional Exposure
What is your current level of exposure within your industry? Are you known within local industry circles? How about on the national scene? Industry conferences and events offer opportunities for professionals at all career stages to enhance their industry presence. Depending on where you are in your career and your level of expertise, you may be able to get on a speaking docket or a panel discussion. Talk to organizers of events about such opportunities, months before the event is scheduled.
If you don’t have quite that level of expertise, you may be able to collaborate with local professionals by joining professional associations in your industry or attending and getting involved in related Meetup groups. Both of these avenues can offer opportunities to get to know people on a professional level by working together, or just by networking at business events. The returns on networking are stronger now than ever, since you can use your social media platforms to engage with your new in-person contacts, and eventually to connect with influencers they know.
If you haven’t gotten much visibility within your own organization, consider asking your boss and other decision makers within your company about stretch projects that would enable you to collaborate interdepartmentally. If you have been passed up for advancement opportunities, this could be the move that enables you to break through the promotion plateau.
- Use Social Media as a Career Progression Tool
Do your social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn cast you in a professional light? If not, the first step is to remove images and posts that present even the slightest risk of turning off a potential employer.
Once you have optimized your social profiles for business, you can begin to look for new ways to engage with people in your profession. On Twitter, comment on industry events, trends, and news. Engage with influencers in your area and on the national stage. On LinkedIn, join industry groups and engage in the discussion threads. Connect with companies and their employees and follow their pages. Like and comment on their posts. Publish articles on your LinkedIn profile, so that when local industry influencers and hiring managers find your commentary interesting, they’ll check your profile and learn even more about your industry knowledge. You can repost that same content on Facebook, which is a smart move if you are connected to people in the industry on that platform. On Facebook and Twitter, you can also repost content you have read online, including infographics, visuals, videos, and articles. Your online engagements will eventually be seen by hiring managers when you interview, or even a hiring manager at your company that you don’t know is researching internal candidates for a promotion.
- Toot Your Own Horn by Applying for Awards
In every industry, at every level, there are accolades to be won from national and regional organizations that bestow honors upon hard-working, innovative, and bright professionals. Start by researching the awards and honors that your direct superiors at work have received on LinkedIn. Then move on to researching the accolades of local peers and people just above you in rank. Find examples of local professionals in your area who are on a faster career trajectory, who have landed positions for which you have interviewed.
There is a good chance that your interview rivals have demonstrated their value and showcased their accomplishments, in part through awards from industry institutions. It’s likely they are no better qualified for advancement than you are, but they have been more willing and innovative in the way they hustle for the spotlight. Now it’s your turn to shine!
Have you found other exciting and innovative ways to up your professional development game? What approaches have worked best for you? Share your experiences with our community on Facebook!