As a generation that thrives on the mantra of self-discovery, it’s normal to not have all the answers on what the next steps of your career should look like.
Whether you’re realizing that you’d like to change directions, or you’re just not sure how to “sell” yourself professionally, this guide will help show you how to professionally apply your skills and experiences.
Step 1: Establish your career objectives
The first step of any job search process is to reflect on your past experiences and achievements, and ideate on your future personal and professional objectives.
Before leaping into job searches, ask yourself what drives and motivates you. Asking yourself and receiving clarity on what you’re hoping to accomplish can set the foundation for the type of professions you should be seeking.
By having a brainstorming session where you jot down your core values, passions, and hobbies, you can figure out and establish your career objectives. As you do this, make note of any specific skills on your resume that can launch you in the right direction. Keep this as a reference to look back to, especially when it’s time to apply for an opening!
Remember, you don’t have to limit yourself to one direction – the last thing you want to do is to put yourself in a box. The purpose of giving yourself objectives is to provide yourself with a sense of direction on what path you’d like to explore.
Step 2: Polish your skills for a prospective role
One way to stand out from the majority of applicants is to polish your skills through online assessment tests. Skill assessment tests are optional to take on your own, but are often used by employers to measure the abilities and skills of both current employees and job applicants.
Offered by both LinkedIn and Indeed, these tests can range from business skills, customer service, design, technology, and much more. While some job applications already require the completion of a role-specific assessment, it’s always useful to highlight this achievement to serve you as a strong candidate.
If your prospective profession requires more in-depth qualifications, online courses that earn a license or certification may be the route for you. Since the pandemic, virtual learning has become another new normal, and several institutions have implemented remote and/or pre-recorded classrooms for those at home. Depending on your field of study and each institute’s guidelines, it’s worth looking into if you’re interested in taking a standardized approach to solidifying your skills and interests.
For those interested in earning a license, established portals offer certifications to showcase on your resume. Some examples include Linkedin (via Linkedin Learning) and Adobe to demonstrate your skills for business impact.
Step 3: Fine-tuning the vocabulary of your resumes and cover letters to market yourself
Once you’ve figured out the skills you’d like to apply in your profession, the next step is to elevate and fine-tune them to impress a job recruiter or client. It’s recommended to tailor your portfolio and resume to the organization and position – as the applicant, it’s your job to make the best argument as to why YOU are the ideal candidate for the specific position.
Take note of the skills, tasks, and requirements listed in the job posting, and make sure to align your talents and experiences to match. If you feel like you’re missing some job experience the employer is looking for, shift the focus to relevant experience you DO have to give yourself a stronger case.
Aside from listing job descriptions and extracurriculars, focus on the results and outcomes from your impact in previous experiences. This gives your recruiter a sense of your long-term contributions and what you’d offer to the company.
Make every word count!
Step 4: Networking with Alumni
Now that you’ve finalized all the steps to your career objective, it’s time to put yourself out there and network! If you’re unsure where to begin, start by connecting with your institution’s alumni via LinkedIn.
Connecting with peers that share your educational background helps gain insights on what your next steps can look like, especially to gauge what the industry is actually like after graduating. You’ll also be able to have honest conversations that feel more casual, which eases the pressure of networking in a strictly professional sense. With any luck, networking with an alumni can also push you in the right direction through their experiences, recommendations, and networking tree.
Figuring out the next steps of your career can feel like a daunting, self-existential roadblock, but keep in mind that your path is for you to walk on. You may not have all the answers even with the help of an outline, but encourage yourself to take these small steps towards your success.
Give yourself words of affirmation, have fun, and put yourself out there!