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Article: Growing your Career: Do at GUT Check

This is a great article sent to SI Careers from an alumnus. Click on the link to also view the comments from readers. If you have an article to share, send it to si.careers@umich.edu

Growing your Career: Do at GUT Check
November 15th, 2008

This blog is focused on web professionals, and to be that, I’d like for you all to have jobs. Given the state of the economy there are three tips I want you to start on immediately, regardless of your rank, industry, or location.

There are actually great opportunities for those during a recession for professionals, restrained resources and competition will force you to become excellent in whatever you do. You’ll be forced to learn new skills and be more efficient than you’ve ever before. Some layoffs will leave opportunities for vertical growth and leadership opportunities.

You’re going to need a leg up in the market whether it be in your company, outside of your company, or to win new clients. You should start this process now, a simple three letter acronym that you should repeat during your day to yourself. Ready?

Growing your Career: Do at GUT Check:

G: Grow Your Network Before You Need Them
Nothing is more sad that seeing someone getting layed off and groveling to their non-qualified friends and family the need for a job. After this, they’ll go to their professional network to help and network with others, but the look of desperation is evident –no one wants to be hired out of pity. Be prepared.

Therefore you should always be building your professional network, espicially when your job feels secured. There’s really no excuse as many real world networking events are free, but if you’re in Juno, err Juneau Alaska, you can heavily lean on the digital tools, they’re also free. You should start by building your online profile in social network sites, finding the communities most tied to your industry, then reading, then answering some of the questions in forums. The trick here is to add value, not just ask for help, demonstrate your expertise by answering questions in an intelligent way and helping others. If you’re a web professional, start with my Facebook group, or if you’re a social media professional, I created this one for you. I’m not scalable –but networks are– so you’ll have to connect with others around us to grow.

U: Uncomfortness Leads to Growth
When you look at a candidates resume, and you see (esp in web industry) they’ve not grown in the last 3-5 years with their skillsets (not skillets), you ought to be worried. In a tough market, employers and clients want self-starters, those that go beyond the regular call of just doing the minimum requirements. Being Uncomfortable means trying something new, and eventually growing.

When I was an intern right out of college, I made a promise to myself to bug everyone in the IT department to teach me a new skill or task. You’d be surprised how thankful they were that someone so young wanted to learn from them. Each day, you should do the same, find someone and ask them to show you something or teach you something new in your career. What am I doing? I spend two hours each morning reading and blogging before I look at email, and I just started Guy’s latest book, Reality Check.

T: Tout Your Successes
Getting found online is part of the game, recruiters are going to do web searches before they purchase time on my job board, so you want to easily make yourself found. By this time if you’re a web professional and you don’t have your own personal domain I’m concerned for you, what are you waiting for, it’s only 10 dollars to register and 5 a month to host at some places.

If you’re worried about looking like you’re trying to find a new job, you can use your initials and just list the industry that you’re working in to protect your identity. If you’re still concerned, rather than post your resume on your own website, keep your LinkedIn profile updated with the higlights.

At industry parties and events I always ask folks: “What do you do? it’s surprising how folks are unable to articulate what they do, they beat around the bush, are self-deprecating, or try to avoid the topic all together. Instead, develop a single sentence describing what you do, practice your delivery, and learn how to ask an open ended question to trigger a conversation.

One caveat, this does not give you the right to be a raging egomaniac on your blog or website (sorta how I fear I come off sometimes) but is the chance for you to list what you’re capable of doing, what you’ve done, and what you can do for others.

Everyday I want you to do a GUT check, practice these skills, build your arsenal, don’t hesitate but do it now. Are you an HR professional, career development expert, or just learned a helpful tip along the way?? Now’s your time to leave a comment here with some other tips to demonstrate your own tips. Leave a comment or suggestion to help others.

Posted by kkowatch at November 25, 2008 09:40 AM

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