A Great Career Is No Accident ...by Bill Knell
Having a great career requires careful planning and constant vigilance. Few people would wait until the day they start a vacation to decide particulars like where they'll go, where they'll stay when they get there or what they'll do when they arrive. Sadly, many people apply this foolish philosophy to their working life.
We've all seen those movies where somebody gets all the breaks and things happen just in the nick of time for them to get that fabulous job. Well, this rarely happens in real life. Anyone that doesn't sit down and carefully plan a career path is likely to end up frustrated. It has become a fact of life that getting a great job and keeping it requires more effort then doing the job itself. Start with an aggressive plan. Aggressive means using all the assets you have available. Whether you're starting a career or changing jobs, you will need to use every asset at your disposal to get that great job. Assets can be your own education, skills and experience, but they can also be people you know, contacts you've made or help from friends.
The vast majority of people that I know who have managed to find great jobs have done so with the help of others. There is no shame in letting friends and friends of friends know you're looking. Just be serious and real. Most people find fulfillment in helping someone else. If you turn out to be a real asset to your new employer, the person who helped you get the job will probably benefit as well. You can always return the favor after you get that job and they send someone to you for help. People contacts pay off more then resume mailings.
You might find that making a personal appearance at perspective employers can pay off big. Head-hunters receive thousands of resumes which are then filtered through a dozen people before an interview is scheduled. Why not try dropping off your resume? A good impression made with a receptionist can sometimes mean your resume will get to the right person. On a slow day, you might even make it to a brief pre-interview session. Your willingness to participate in a spur of the moment interview will also indicate your ability to adapt quickly to any situation.
Let your perspective employer know what separates you from the rest. Accentuate your unique talent, abilities and experience. Always look your interviewer straight in the eyes and make sure you have good reasons available for why they should hire you instead of the other thirty people they'll see that day. Like the old saying goes, "Whether you graduate first or last in your class, they'll still call you Doctor." Uniqueness pays off.
Once employed, take advantage of in-house seminars and educational opportunities. Locate outside training sources and update your education. Host occasional 'Career Life' dinners or luncheons. Invite friends and co-workers who are on the fast track to share their tips and experiences. This will allow you to make great connections. People will remember and appreciate these gatherings.
Finally, no one can plan your career better then you. While it's fine to seek advice and learn from others, it's never wise to let employment agencies run your show. They may well have other agendas you are not aware of and might end up hurting, rather then helping your reputation and chances of landing that great job.