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The art of career maintenance

Posted by Chad O'Connor  April 17, 2013 11:00 AM

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[Editor's Note: Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas Menino have created The One Fund for programs assisting victims of the Boston Marathon attacks. Learn more and donate here.]

“The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.” ― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

Are you looking for a new position? Have you had a difficult time getting hired? The challenges you face may require small adjustments as opposed to drastic changes.

Thousands of employers routinely overlook talented job applicants. Your goal should be to make it easy for a hiring manager to find you and see where you fit within a company’s long term plans. An employer is searching for an employee with proven skills that will help their organization. As a job applicant, you should highlight how you are a good fit for the employer's needs. Terminating an employee that is not a good fit for the company is an onerous process that employers seek to avoid. Consequently, you must show interviewers that you are an adaptable asset with a tremendous upside. Effective communication will help you learn what others expect from you and solidify connections that will benefit your career. Being attentive to your strengths and your prospective employer’s needs will lead to an effective job seeking campaign.

"Open communication is of utmost importance, because it’s the only way to learn about and adapt to office culture, and fellow colleagues' work styles, thereby maximizing our ability to work effectively as part of a team. Employers ultimately want to hire people who are talented, accountable and personable." - Shannon O'Brien, Founder and Personal Development Advisor at Whole U.

Most openings are not publicly listed. Consequently, your associations are the primary way to obtain employment. The hidden job market is supplied by acquaintances, friends, and relatives. Jobs are not intentionally hidden but problems within companies often delay job announcements and may limit a potential job opening’s visibility. Being the first to learn about an opening will give you an edge prior to the official recruiting process that may be used to fill the position. Staying connected to colleagues is a form of career insurance. As a person moves from company to company, they often remember the coworkers that helped them the most in their journey. Consequently, unforeseen opportunities may present themselves to you by staying connected with colleagues.

The quality of your connections is determined by your reputation. People work with people they trust. As a consequence, personal integrity is a cornerstone of a solid reputation. When working with others, treating people with respect is a deep-seated component of good business ethics. Bolstering your credibility will help you stand out from other job applicants. A person will not recommend you for a job unless if they believe in you. Consequently, conducting yourself according to the highest ethical standards will benefit your career in the short-term and in the long-term. Your reputation will play a significant role in your job search success. Thus, avoiding criticizing past employers and co-workers will reflect well on your character. Loyalty and integrity are qualities that are highly respected in all professions. Hence, choose your battles wisely and think of the big picture when interacting with colleagues. A good attitude goes far in strengthening relationships and augmenting the quality of your connections.

"I'm always looking for people who have an understanding of the work we do, a desire to do a stellar job, and a good attitude about life in general. Other skills, I believe, can be learned." - Jeanne Dasaro, Founder, Wonder Women of Boston

Continuous improvement should be the foundation of your professional activities. Every task given to you at work is an opportunity to learn and grow. Accordingly, you must seek opportunities to raise your level of competency on every assignment. Volunteering for projects and accepting responsibility for achieving results are attributes that will highlight your value to a company. Teamwork is essential for organizational success. Correspondingly, your ability to connect with others, while solving difficult challenges, will make you stand out from the crowd when applying for a position with an organization. Further, setting priorities and problem solving are skills that every employer seeks in an employee. Consequently, demonstrating your organizational skills to a current employer will also impress your future employers.

Employers are seeking quality. Hiring an employee is a major investment. Accordingly, a hiring decision is based on your past performance and potential growth. Do your homework before meeting with an employer. A hiring manager is seeking intelligent employees. A sign of intelligence is curiosity. For this reason, you should prepare for interviews by formulating 3-5 questions that you can ask throughout the meeting, which will educate you about your potential employer and show the hiring manager that you are a self-motivated professional. You should view a job search as a way to market your brand. You need to find ways to stand out when looking for employment. Human resource professionals and recruiters are pressed for time when reviewing resumes. For that reason, you must make the hiring process easier for the prospective employer. Boiling down what you have to offer an employer into a 5-7 word tagline will dramatically improve your chances of being noticed by your future employer.

You have to show an employer that you believe in yourself and believe in the organization's mission because employers are generally looking for committed individuals that can be relied upon for a substantial period of time. Accepting a job offer is a capstone event that follows the incremental process of proving your value to others and marketing that value to your new employer.

Lennox Chase is an attorney that sits on the board of directors for Needham Bank. Attorney Chase is also the founder of MyBarPrep, a tutoring company for lawyers and law school students.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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