By Joe Steele, VP of Talent Acquisition, Beneficial Bank
This summer, the headlines have been full of positive news about the job market: the U.S. economy is adding jobs at a steady pace, and the national unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since before the Great Recession. Even with these positive developments, those looking for that next great role still need to be proactive in advancing their careers.
A strong focus on building a series of professional long-term relationships (LTRs) can help you differentiate yourself from the pack. Follow these simple rules and you may just find that your next great role finds you before you find it!
1. Always be on. You never know who is standing next to you on the train, in front of you in line at the market or sitting next to you at your neighbor’s barbeque. Always be on your toes and ready to give your own personal pitch. Remember: always be your best self.
2. Make your elevator speech sparkle. How do you sum up your experience and goals in a way that won’t make the listener get that glazed-over look? Keep it simple but speak with passion. Even if your last or current position was less than a thrill a minute, find a way to be excited about it—even if it’s simply an aspect of the role or the opportunities it afforded you. If you can show someone you are passionate about working in a mundane role then there is a good chance that the excitement will be infectious!
3. Update your professional social media profiles. What is the first thing someone is going to do after speaking at length with you? Do a little research! Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and reflects everything covered in your personal pitch as well as your resume (albeit an abbreviated version). And it should go without saying, check your privacy settings for posts on all social media!
4. Don’t hibernate in your comfort zone. Don’t just attend networking and organization events where you know everyone. Seriously, what good will that do you? Go to events that will make you spread your wings a bit. That event hosted downtown that targets your industry? Great idea! The function around the corner from the office that all your co-workers attend? Not so much.
5. Nurture your contacts. Treat your relationship with business contacts as a marriage: it’s a two-way street. To be in a successful union you have to work at it; communication is paramount, so is your ability to be genuine. All of this applies to networking—be honest, open and focused on what you can give, not just receive.
6. Don’t be a “yes” person. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone that just smiles and nods at every point you make? It can be infuriating if you are looking to gain feedback or hear an original thought or point of view. Not only that, but it can make the other individual wonder if you are actually checked into the conversation or even capable of having a conversation. It all goes back to always being “on” and being your best self.
7. Don’t wait until you’re unemployed to create your network. Unemployment happens to everyone, in many instances when we least expect it. Scrambling to get your name out in the right circles once you are unemployed is way too late. Build your network now and start working on that LTR!
As technology continues to evolve, the vehicles we all use to develop professional LTRs may change, but the importance and core principles will stay the same. At the end of the day, you owe it to yourself to get out there, make great connections and be a great connection.