How create a solid career foundation
As careers become more malleable and transitory, it is important to make sure that your work has a strong foundation these eight steps can help.
Search the definition of “foundation,” and you find this:
A body or ground on which other parts rest or are overlaid.
An underlying basis or principle for something.
It’s also synonymous with basis, base and point of departure.
A sturdy career foundation provides stability, ensuring you maintain the integrity of your vision. The following action ideas will help you build this rock-solid base.
1. Know yourself
What are your priorities personally and professionally? If your priority is a day-to-day life rooted in family dinners and weeknight ball games, then a job requiring constant travel probably won’t suit your goals and vision. Or, maybe you aspire to a role that will offer a wide array of career advancement opportunities. In this case you probably want to seek out a company within which internal promotion is commonplace. This is instead of an organization with limited chances for upward mobility, or known only to hire from the outside.
This may mean choosing a start-up with clear ambitions for high growth. Somewhere you can get on the ground floor and work your way from mid-level to executive team. Or, it could be aiming your arrow at larger companies with multiple global offices and divisions with channels for growth.
2. Address your strengths
Become crystal clear on your areas of strength, even those which you take for granted. For example, if you have experience developing strategies that stand alone but also are complementary to the CEO’s vision. You must be able to internalize that ability and articulate it effectively.
Show situational context. This includes the challenges in applying the new strategy in your organization (e.g. pushback by other stakeholders) and the measurable outcome of having implemented the strategy. Did you drive explosive growth? Balloon customer satisfaction scores? Spur double-digit cost reduction?
As you can see, addressing your strengths is much more than espousing keyword phrases. It is about painting a visual and evocative picture of your strengths in action.
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3. Address your soft skills
Are you emotionally composed amid chaos? Do you coach your emerging leaders with an inspired approach? Are you an active listener who uses empathy to understand another person’s viewpoint? These all are soft skills that you must weave into your stories that sell your value. By enveloping your hard-core results in the gentle padding of soft skills, you prove that you are a leader whom others follow.
4. Own for what you are known
Have you gone into more than one company, or multiple places inside the same company, and remedied issues with processes and security? Are you known for steering teams through turbulence and making the tough calls? Have you reinvigorated deflated cultures to become hungry-to-win top performing enterprises? If so, then, embrace your value. Own the reputation you have meticulously accrued. Weave the blood-sweat-and-tears into your conversations, both on the printed page and in-person.
Whether an emerging leader or boardroom executive, it is imperative to fortify your career foundation continually with concrete learning tools. Read business books. Listen to career shaping podcasts. Attend webinars. Sign up for classes. Earn industry certifications. Hire a specialty coach to hone your skills in public speaking, writing, technology, financial management or whatever the need may be. These will all maintain a sturdy career underpinning.
As your career vision and the world around you evolves, your learning needs change. For example, executives who once relied upon traditional marketing and communications tactics need to consider the value of social media. By applying social media strategies in daily communications, you can stand apart from those who think LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and more are wastes of time.
Leverage social networking to promote your company’s value. Inspire your employees through public acclamations. Tender straightforward channels through which customers can connect.
6. Get a headshot
Having a well-designed head shot is important. It becomes your personal brand logo, foundational across various communication channels. By researching and interviewing the right-fit photographer, you can ensure a satisfying result. i.e. a close-up of your eyes and overall personality that feels natural, versus overdone or forced. If you choose the do-it-yourself head shot, consider the following tips over at Hubspot: How to Take Your Own Professional Headshot.
7. Create a biography
In conjunction with the headshot, a shorter and longer version of your professional biography is essential to have on hand for those occasions where you are asked to produce a bio. Opportunities to use your bio include: interviews with reporters, board appointments, company website listings of key executives, guest blogging, job interviews and more.
8. Maintain Your Executive Resume
For executives on the move, a portfolio of resumes is expected. For example, in addition to a meatier, two- three- or even four-page rendition, you will want to create a lean, one- to two-page resume brief. Moreover, for entrepreneurial types or those in more creative fields or situations, an illustrated resume/biography will take your message to the next level.
As you can see, building a rock-solid foundation under your career vision requires regular vision assessment, including how your skills and experiences support it. Moreover, once a foundation is set, you must be cognizant to shifts in your vision that will impact the integrity, and make appropriate adjustments. This may mean adding new educational piers or scheduling a photo shoot, adding a new strategic initiative to your resume and so forth.
Just as the earth constantly shifts under the foundation of your home, your career continually evolves, requiring constant foundational attention.
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Originally posted in Pulse LinkedIn