The worst time to look for a job is when you desperately need one. You should instead build your entire professional life towards achieving something bigger than yourself. This way, when you find yourself in a bind or seek career advancement, you’ll have various options.
Career stagnation can be cruel, and you don’t want to end up stuck in it. Experts recommend improving your employment prospects while you’re already working or pursuing your degree in a related field. After all, an average employee spends around 9000 hours each year working, so they might as well enjoy what they’re doing. And although most people understand the importance of building their careers, few can achieve it effectively. This is because several factors along the way can impede your professional growth and perhaps force you to give up too soon.
Thinking about your dream job is all well and good, but if you’re not ready for it, real life might be a real slap in the face. So, to keep you from making dreadful mistakes, here are seven strategies to improve your career prospects.
Pursue higher education
The job market has become increasingly competitive as employers look to hire individuals with higher education and skillsets in the roles they’re trying to fill. If you earn an undergraduate degree, you’ll have greater chances of success than other potential employees. Advanced qualifications make you eligible for lucrative salaries with added benefits.
If you don’t want to put your career on hold, search for universities offering one year masters program online. These programs are perfect for working individuals who wish to advance professionally but don’t want to risk losing their jobs.
Gain work experience
Your education and degrees won’t mean much to your employer if you don’t have practical skills to show for it. The work experience you gain doesn’t just help you seek employment but also gives you a chance to explore your field of interest fully. For example, learning about the goings-on of a business may seem exciting when you’re in the classroom; but not as fun when you work in a corporate setting. On the contrary, you may find the accounting section of the same company more challenging and wish to switch your career to that. Additionally, the more work experience you gain in various environments, the more suitable you will be for future employers.
Summer and fall breaks are an ideal time to enroll in an internship program or seek part-time job prospects in the industry of your interest. Remember, no opportunity is too small or beneath you. There’s a learning curve at every turn.
Besides working in your chosen field, volunteer work is also an excellent way of improving your future career prospects. Volunteering your time, skills, and effort for any community or organization has two primary benefits. First, this is a great way to help and give back to your society which has played a significant role in getting you where you stand today. Secondly, it offers you a chance to practice your skills and gain experience from your work. And since volunteer hours are often much more flexible than a job, you can work as much as your free time allows.
Additionally, voluntary work experience can make your resume stand out from other candidates applying for a job. Recruiters might prefer you to others because they’ll value your morals, skills, and experience more than the rest.
The purpose of networking is to meet new people and get to know them better. It is usually done in a casual work setting.
Networking can get you climbing up the career ladder faster than any other strategy. Don't worry if walking into a room full of strangers makes you feel uncomfortable. It is important to overcome and adapt to this fear because networking can be extremely beneficial to your career.
The primary reason why networking is so crucial is that it’s the perfect opportunity for referrals. Many job recruiters, especially the top firms, hire new employees through professional connections or references. A reinforcing remark from a colleague, professor, or even your current boss can do wonders more than any resume can.
Join a society
While in college, joining a society or club is an excellent way to improve your career prospects. Doing so not only helps you build essential skills but also allows you to meet new people and boost your employability.
One of the greatest benefits of joining a society is that it makes you a team member and shows your commitment to working alongside other society members. You can even advance into leadership roles as the president or vice president of the society.
Additionally, being part of a college club means you can explore interests and fields other than the one offered by your chosen degree. For example, if you’re an engineering major, you can still be a part of a poetry society and pursue your hobby or secondary interests here.
Attend career fairs
Most academic institutes annually organize career fairs, so students and employers can meet face-to-face. Unfortunately, many underestimate the opportunities they can get out of this event and often skip it. But if you want to create your space in the organization of your choice, grab this chance with both hands and give it all you got.
Since you’ll likely meet your potential employer here, you must dress formally and come prepared with whatever questions you may have. Companies are more interested in talking to candidates who have researched the business and know what they want. Even if you don’t have a particular organization in mind, write out your goals to get a clearer idea of which company’s vision is better suited for you.
Develop soft skills
Although technical skills are essential for practical work, these aren’t the only skills you need to succeed. Soft skills, or transferable skills, are just as necessary, if not more, for employment in the 21st century. They can improve your work efficiency and provide better professional advancement opportunities.
Soft skills most desired by employers include:
- Effective Communication
- Time Management
- Critical Thinking
- Interpersonal Skills
Entering professional life may seem daunting and highly challenging. With so many eligible and competent individuals around, finding your place in the industry can take time. Therefore, it’s best to stay ahead of the game and improve your career prospects early on—giving you better chances of succeeding as time progresses.