Last month marked my 20th year in public relations. Along the way, I’ve learned how to keep the momentum going, develop new skills and expand my network. I’ve also learned that getting ahead in corporate America isn’t always easy. ¡Ay, mijita! It can envelop you in sheer anxiety – like you’re suddenly starring in an episode of survival of the fittest. And, a career slump is disheartening, confusing and leaves you feeling stuck.
But you’re not! When this happens – keep your cool, stay confident, get organized and focus your efforts. Since there is so much to cover, let’s start with some basics: the role of a mentor, career coach and headhunter; networking on and offline; joining an organization; powering up that resume and more.
Consejito: Find the right mentor – an industry expert who enjoys a successful career and can guide you. Engage in open, honest dialogue on how to make connections, take your career to the next level and more.
Harness the power of LinkedIn. (I’m a little busy body on this platform – always connecting with clients, prospects, industry leaders, fellow peers, media, bloggers and influencers.) Take a close look at your profile and brag about your skills, awards and achievements. Tap into connections you’ve worked with, and request recommendations. Rack up those well-deserved endorsements! Ask for introductions because you never know where those will lead. Share interesting news articles, career milestones and professional updates. Join LinkedIn groups that mirror your interests and are industry-focused. Comment on articles and posts offering your unique perspective and insight. Introduce yourself to new connections via email, and remember to use a personalized note over the default.
Now it’s time for offline, in-person networking. Dress to impress, and catch up with local LinkedIn connections over a cafecito. Attend influencer-driven conferences, career improvement seminars and Chamber of Commerce gatherings that target business professionals in your industry. Check out Meetup’s communities and Eventbrite for relevant events near you, even happy hour mixers! Nothing beats shaking hands, making eye contact, having an interesting conversation, exchanging business cards and cultivating a relationship. Remember, whenever you meet someone new – connect with them on LinkedIn and remind them how you met.
Consejito: If you’re looking to leave your current post, have personal business cards made. (You don’t want to get emails or calls at work, know what I mean?) Bring a stack of cards with you whenever you’re networking. Preparation is key!
Take networking to the next level by joining an industry association. (One of the best decisions I made was to sit on the national board of Hispanic Public Relations Association, and launch the Miami chapter.) Joining an association is great for networking at events, honing your craft during development sessions and having access to a job bank. Also consider rolling up your sleeves and volunteering. It is fulfilling work, and by lending a helping hand – you contribute to the success of the organization. Be of service to others, and be surrounded by like-minded professionals. And, add that sparkle to your resume!
Craft a solid game plan to take the next step in your career. But, if you’re in a rut, work with a career coach during this journey. This “voice of reason” will prep you, evaluate your skill set, discover your hidden talents and potential, help you map out or refine your short- and long-term goals, give you resume pointers, develop a tangible strategy and keep you on track.
Consejito: Write articles to showcase your know-how, boost your credibility and establish your voice as an expert in the industry.
Part of the process is reviewing, very closely, how you’re presenting yourself – starting with your resume. One page works best in most cases, delete ineffective phrases and include active buzzwords that show off your attributes. If you need help handcrafting it, it’s best to hire a resume professional. This pro will re-direct your resume to focus on your expertise, technical skills, qualifications, position titles and credentials. Following this, you’ll be able to draft a cover letter (template) that highlights top takeaways from your resume.
Speak with headhunters, even when there is no immediate job opportunity. Recruiters who work in your industry can share important information with you: what’s happening in your field, what kind of candidates they are placing, which companies are always hiring, what the going salaries are for someone at your level, etc. Even if the conversation is informal and exploratory, make a lasting impression to stay top of mind.
Chicas, in the next career post we’ll cover how to ask for a promotion and/or raise, enhancing your education, tackling a job hunt and more. So tell me, what career steps have you taken that have worked? What tips can you share? I’d love to hear from you!
Mamá decía, “Si quieres algo que nunca tuviste, debes hacer algo que nunca hiciste.”