“We each live our lives one day at at time” is a deceptively simple expression. The same goes for our careers. Comparing the resumes for professionals with 5, 15, or 25+ years of tenure will obviously show different experiences and capabilities. But regardless of your previous accomplishments, what would your resume look like from yesterday as a snapshot of your achievements in 24 hours?
Research from Right Management showed that 48% of professionals in the 18-24 age range update their resumes when a new goal is achieved, compared to 24% of the 35-54 age range. While this could be linked to the scarcity of significant development opportunities later in a career, or perhaps that 35-54 year olds have found more interesting things to do on a Tuesday night. Regardless, the statistic suggests that younger professionals are more aware of their professional achievements on a shorter timescale.
So as you read this and enter a new day in your career, think about what you are going to achieve in the following categories. I’m not advocating haphazard multitasking in order to check all these boxes in a single day, but instead encouraging you to learn and develop, one day at at time.
Quantify the results of a project you’re leading
Ask for an endorsement from a customer or colleague
Volunteer to join an initiative outside of your “home” function
Register for a graduate course (does your employer offer tuition reimbursement? As reported in Fortune, 83% say they do)
Begin a certification program from your employer, vendor (such as Pega Academy), or 3rd party (PMI reports that project managers with the PMP designation earn 20% more)
Seek out an adjunct professor role at a nearby university. Teaching is the best way to learn a subject more deeply.
Volunteer your time as a tutor, mentor, or coach, or otherwise participate in activities to help others.
Speaking and Publications
Focus your own understanding and help to expand the knowledge of your community by publishing research and making presentations at events
It’s easy to get stuck on “auto-pilot” (no Tesla jokes yet…it’s too soon) and cruise through each day at work without the awareness of how you are honing your capabilities and expanding your knowledge to benefit others. Set off to work tomorrow with the intention of making your one day resume as strong as it can be.
As I referenced in a previous post, it is never to early to start building your network and (re)discovering your career strategy. One way to do this, as Peter Bregman suggests also, is by giving away your time and effort through volunteering. Recently, and somewhat unexpectedly, I followed this advice by meeting with some folks who are leading a start-up food business called Beer Bites.
As the beautiful and virtually content free-website suggests, we are in the very early stages of product and business development and there is lots to do. At the end of my first meeting, I joined the ops team and will be helping secure the ~50 Boston area bars and lounges who will pilot the launch of Beer Bites. Shameless plug: email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more or get involved!
This experience helped clarify four specific ways that giving can help anyone get a better job, no matter how soon:
You will learn quickly by being out of your comfort zone. Regardless of the size of the organization you help, or the specific work that you do, you will be learning quickly. Everyone you volunteer with will have more knowledge or experience (or both) than you in some regard, which will help you grow and become a more attractive candidate for your next role.
You will build more weak ties quickly — the most important links in your network. This is a core principle of Gladwell’s as well as anyone else who understands networking, because you will gain access to more unique contacts.
You will demonstrate the depth of your character, which goes well beyond any online interaction. Beyond getting a few hours of sunshine and fresh air, getting away from the computer screen will show the people you meet about your values, your work ethic, and your capabilities in a much more genuine way.
You will get a bunch of new ideas about what you do (and do not) want in your next role. Simply talking to the other folks you’re volunteering with about their experiences will provide a lot of food for thought. The extent to which you enjoy your volunteer work will also become a source of feedback. My experience with Beer Bites so far has affirmed that I want business development and marketing to be a part of what I do next: I don’t care what you say, cold calling is just plain fun!
What have you gained from a recent volunteer experience? Or maybe it went horribly wrong? Leave a comment and let me know.