[Note: Hunter is a sales manager and money nerd by day and financial/career wizard by night, sometimes]
I remember my college counselor once predicting that companies would be fighting over me like a Black Friday deal at Target — but, that didn’t happen.
Instead, I (along with a lot of you) started adulting at one of the worst possible times of the last 100 years.
Thankfully, things have improved over the past decade.
The national unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest level since 1969. In Charlotte, we’re hovering around 3.6%. Wages are rising. And there are more job openings than people looking for jobs.
The question is – what can you do to capitalize on the positive trends while things are still good?
I’ve reflected on all the things I’ve tried over my first 10 working years and highlighted my most effective “career hacks.” I also combined forces with my friend as well as local HR expert and founder of CLT Leads, Tess Ausman, to get her advice.
(1) Analyze internal positions that are one move away.
Start by looking at which internal jobs are intriguing, how long it would realistically take for you to move into these roles and how much they pay. Check out Glassdoor for salary info.
Tess recommends printing job descriptions of all the positions that look interesting to you. Highlight skills to start looking for themes. This will give you direction as to how to revise your resume or what to work on. Once you’ve figured out what skills you need, start using those skills in your current role.
(2) Proactively tell your manager what you’ve done, what you’re doing and what you want to do.
By initiating these conversations with your manager, you’ll earn a lot of trust and show that you’re serious about your career, which could earn you more responsibility.
Figure out a cadence that makes sense to your situation. I usually go with weekly for what I’ve done, monthly for biggest focuses and every 3-6 months for what I see myself doing.
(3) Create a prospect list of high growth companies.
When you consider that the average annual raise is around 3% when you stay at the same company vs. a 10-50% bump if you change jobs, you might want to consider moving to a new company. As long as you’re not jumping ship every 6 months for a similar role, then your moves should be easily explainable.
[Note: Looking? 150+ open jobs in Charlotte right now]
(4) Find a mentor and take them out to lunch every other month.
The best way to learn how to do something is to ask someone who’s done it.
Not sure how to find one? Tess recommends setting up a few “get to know you” meetings and then choose someone to keep in touch with regularly. “Secretly call them your mentor and make it a goal to go to lunch every other month. Prep in advance so you know what you want to talk about and how you may be able to add value to them.”
(5) Embrace sales, change and technology.
Not everyone is thriving in this economy. Companies are going out of business and entire industries are disappearing before our eyes. If you want to position yourself for the future, focus on these 3 things:
- Sales: Let’s face it, everyone is in sales. Use your influence to persuade others to do what you want.
- Change: Companies have to adapt quicker than ever in order to survive. If you can become an early adopter and advocate of change, you can set yourself apart from those that resist it.
- Technology: There. Are. Self. Driving. Cars. If you can understand how any of this stuff actually works, you’re in a good spot.
(6) Grab coffee with everyone.
It’s all about who you know and networking has never been easier. Build relationships by scheduling informal get-togethers. You could turn 2nd, 3rd and 4th degree connections into friendships.
These relationships could become crucial when you need to call in a favor. Utilize LinkedIn to form your network.
(7) Customize your resume for each opportunity.
Tess says, “Your resume is not a biography of every responsibility at every job you’ve ever had. It’s a list of accomplishments. Quantify the impact you’ve had and highlight the value you add.”
She also recommends integrating key phrases and skills from each job posting into the resume. Yes, this takes extra time. Yes, it’s worth it.
(8) Create a massive list of questions to ask during your interview.
If you’re about to devote 40-60 hours each week towards something, you better come up with something better than “so….what’s the culture like?”
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Is there anything about my background or resume that makes you question whether I am a good fit for this role?
- What does success look like in this position and how do you measure it?
- Can you tell me anything about the person who was doing this role previously?
(9) Focus on how much you want to make, not how much you currently make.
Untrained recruiters often directly ask the question, “what’s your current salary?” and, unfortunately, most unprepared job searchers answer it.
Instead, shift the focus towards whatever salary you want. It’s called framing and it’s Negotiation 101. And if you can muster it, have them throw out the first number.
[Agenda related guide: Top 10 country clubs in Charlotte, ranked — including pricing data]