I worked with an executive-level client about six months ago who, out of necessity, took a lower-paying, hourly job to pay the bills. For the last 10 years he struggled with a faltering business and his hourly job to make ends meet. Now that the business became the victim of the economy, he was scrambling to find another job, this time at the executive level.
Bob (not his real name) was concerned because he was now over 50 and had been out of the high-powered, high-tech environment for 10 years. Could he make a comeback? Looking at his resume and his current job responsibilities, it was going to be a tough sell. But the more we talked, the more optimistic we became. Bob made some good decisions that he could now use to leverage himself back into the high-tech executive suite.
When I conduct job search workshops, I always encourage participants to look for ways to add a new skill, accomplishment or leadership success to their resume every six months. That’s what I call leveraging your job. Use your current job as a springboard to the next level, salary increase or opportunity.
When Bob took his hourly job, he saw a need for his previous skills but wasn’t in a position to start a project or take action. He convinced his boss to let him take on a process improvement project without any additional compensation. It was a win for Bob, since he could continue to use his high-tech skills in his current job and a big win for the company, saving thousands they would have paid to an outside consultant. Success led to success, and though his official title didn’t change, his accomplishments at the company gave him powerful additions to his resume.
Whatever your situation, here are some ways to leverage your job and build your resume:
1. 1. Let your boss know you have skills or experience in areas outside your current position. You may be tapped to fill a gap when an opportunity presents itself.
2. 2. Gain exposure. Giving presentations to upper-level management is a good way to showcase your excellent presentation skills and innovative ideas. Take advantage of invitations to go to lunch, sit in on a meeting or add your ideas by email.
3. 3. Use your benefits. Take advantage of the company tuition reimbursement program to finish your undergraduate degree, take certification or licensing courses, or get your Masters degree. Education is portable and may be just the thing needed to move up.
4. 4. Be flexible with work schedules, travel, work space and work teams. Things can change quickly and the ability to handle ambiguity and adjust is an important trait.
5. 5. Look for a mentor. Building a professional relationship with a company leader will benefit you and can turn into a powerful reference for your next job.
6. 6. Be a mentor. Share you expertise, knowledge and time with another employee. Help someone else be successful, which is a mark of a true leader.
7. 7. Network. Instead of eating lunch at your desk, join a co-worker in the cafeteria or local lunch spot. Introduce yourself to others at meetings. Attend company functions. Meet as many people in the company as possible. People move on and one of them could be your next boss at another company.
How have you leveraged a job into your next opportunity? Share your tips in the Comments section below.