When I connect with young professionals, I hear a common narrative: they’re in their first or second full-time position, yet they already feel stuck. They are relatively content, but afraid if they don’t make a professional move soon, they will end up like a Toy Story alien - stuck - and unable to escape without help from the Claw.
Commit to an ongoing, low-key job search. You never need an excuse to look at job postings, ever. It is important to know what type of positions and opportunities are out there. Beyond satisfying your professional curiosity, the continuous practice of reviewing job descriptions can help you outline your goals. When you are ready to begin your job search, you won’t be surprised by the available opportunities. More importantly, you won’t be caught off guard by the minimum qualifications. Do it. Go look at a job, or twelve. Take note of the positions that excite you. Create a folder on your computer and save the job descriptions (these don’t need to be attainable right now!). In no time, you will have a collection of dream positions to inspire your next search.
Update your resume. Another way to move forward is to update your resume. Is your current position included on your resume? Have you recorded your most recent accomplishments? When it’s time to apply for your next position, you don’t want to scramble for evidence of your hard work. Devote a day to reflect on your responsibilities and put together a detailed description of your achievements. When you update your resume, you don’t want to resort to a bullet point that says, “Work with team of dedicated employees”, because that’s inaccurate and fluffy. What you really did was, “Collaborate with 14 colleagues to increase your customer base by 10% annually”. Details matter. Take time to record them.
Build your network. When you feel stuck, one of the best ways to get unstuck is to expand your professional network. You know the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” - there’s truth to this. Still haven’t met colleagues at your current company? Invite someone to lunch. Been stuck at 147 LinkedIn connections for the past two months? Invite your neighbor’s mom, who happens to work for your dream employer, to connect. Grab coffee with her. Ask questions about how she got her current position. You have an awesome community of professionals at your fingertips. Connect with them.
Okay, it’s time to propel your career forward. You’ve got this.
What’s your first step? Let me know in the comments!
Laura Riley is a higher education professional and freelance writer who specializes in job search and career advice. She believes a job should make you happy and is dedicated to helping people achieve that reality. She loves to inspire professional development through writing and conversation.
She graduated from Miami University with a master’s degree in student affairs in higher education after obtaining a business degree from St. Norbert College. She is a Wisconsin native and a lover of the Midwest. She enjoys rearranging furniture, people-watching at airports, and football Sundays.