How to Improve your Career Prospects

Feb 8, 2021

Even with a good degree and work experience, you may have found that getting a good job offer can be difficult. Or, perhaps, you have found a point in your career where nothing seems to be progressing, or you feel you’d like to try something different. 

This post will explain a few useful factors to consider when career-building – they’ll help you to show off your skills a little more, impress interviewers, and build useful connections. Hopefully, by reading on, you’ll get some good ideas about how you can improve your career prospects.

#1: Improve your Soft skills

These are non-technical skills that can improve the way you do your work. These include social skills like debating as well as discipline, time management and flexibility. They are not specific to one job, but are helpful almost anywhere to make tasks smoother.

Most of these skills are not taught formally like school subjects. Instead, the best way to build them is to practice as often as you can. 

For example, you can practice your time management by jotting down a plan or schedule for a regular day – think carefully about how much time each activity is likely to take and ensure you have a contingency plan in case something takes much longer than it should.

Especially in the context of applying for jobs and interviewing, communication skills are perhaps the most important.

You need to be able to impress potential employers before you can land a job, and your standing with the company is only likely to be strengthened by better people skills, such as the ability to resolve conflicts, lead well, and work efficiently in a team.

#2: Build up your Network

This is a really useful method of boosting your career prospects. You can build a group of contacts who can answer your questions about a career path you’re considering, gain a source of advice for how to go about improving your prospects, and you can even connect to others’ networks via the people in your own network.

Meeting new people with new perspectives is always a source of insight.

For some people, networking comes naturally and they find themselves at home at busy events with many strangers. However, if you happen to be shy, meeting new people in these settings can be daunting. Nevertheless, a career-building network can be extremely valuable even for introverts; it may just take a little more work. 

The confidence that you gain from building skills in networking can be incredibly useful at interview too.

Useful resources:

TEDx Talks

# 3: Practice Interviews

Many people spend as little as 35 minutes preparing for an interview, but this just isn’t enough. Think about exams at school or university – you need to revise a lot longer than 35 minutes to expect good grades. 

You need to be ready for anything the interviewer might throw at you. Know your skills, consider how to apply them in the job, and perhaps most important know why you want the job in the first place. You need to be enthusiastic to stand out in the job market.

Communication skills are crucial to doing well at interview, so it’s worthwhile building the confidence to start impressing potential employers and improving your career prospects overall.

Asking questions at interview is incredibly important to show the company that you’re really interested and engaged with their business.

Useful resources:

#4: Job market resources

Lots of websites and companies exist for the sole purpose of helping people into the job market and improving their prospects. Most of them have lots of free resources you can use to look for jobs and think about what you want most out of your career. The most well-known ones are Prospects (for graduates), Reed and Indeed, but many others exist too.

Prospects has an entire section of the site focused on helping you to work out a career path you’re happy with: https://www.prospects.ac.uk/planner – it also has sections on apprenticeships, working abroad, etc.

Of course, Graduate Coach also provides a wealth of information about how to structure the different elements of your application, use skills and experience gained in the past to your advantage, communicate with employers, and many other aspects of the career building process. For example, try looking at:

#5 Get experience

Sometimes, the main thing holding you back from career success can be a lack of experience in the relevant fields.

If you want to branch into a different career, it’s worth trying to pick up some experience via internships or volunteering that will show employers that you know what you’re doing, as well as help you to make the decision about which career path is right for you.

Skills and experience really depend on the field you’re looking at, so check specialised websites or build a network to get some helpful advice.

How to Improve your Career Prospects
Photo by Tranmautritam from Pexels

#6: Build your CV

Like any kind of application document, CVs need work to make sure they stand out. The average CV is only viewed for around 3 seconds. This means that, firstly, they need to be short enough so that lots of important information isn’t missed out during this short viewing time. 

Secondly, a CV needs to be good enough to make an impression on a potential employer quickly. Your CV needs to be memorable, or it will simply blend in if there are many applications (as is the case with a great number of jobs). 

Do some research to get the best current thought on what a CV should look like; as well as organising and presenting it well enough, you may need to invest time into brushing up your skills and experience in order to stand out. Your written communication must also be up to scratch if an employer is going to consider hiring you based on your CV.

For advice on building your CV, you may want to look at Graduate Coach’s article: How to write a graduate CV – Graduate Coach

Alternatively, Indeed also has advice on writing a CV

#7: Keep your online presence up to date

It’s worth keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date and attractive to employers, since it’s a record of your past successes in your career as well as listing all of your useful skills. 

It doesn’t take a long time to set up a LinkedIn profile, and using the Jobs section of the site can be really helpful for your career prospects as it can get you in touch with recruiters and connect you with people who may have good advice for your next career steps. 

Keeping in contact with potentially helpful people via other forms of social media like Facebook and Twitter is also worthwhile, as well as crucial in many businesses such as marketing in modern times.

The Benefits of Using LinkedIn – The balance careers

#8: Think about your goals

Before you make a potentially life-changing decision, it’s worth determining exactly what you want out of your career path.

Do you want to stay in the same field, working your way up the business hierarchy? Would you prefer instead to sample a new line of work that makes use of different skills?

Consider what you need to focus on from there. You may need to look at acquiring completely new skills and experience to move forward. In many cases, soft skills such as communication will be crucial, because you will often have to impress old or new employers in order to achieve your career goal.

Graduate Coach’s blog has many articles dealing with this topic; it’s worthwhile looking at the SMART approach in the first article below to help you turn your long-term goals into achievable objectives:

Summary: How to improve your career prospects

  • Brush up on your soft skills like communication and planning
  • Build a career network for useful advice and opportunities
  • Make sure you know how to approach interviews
  • Use the wide variety of resources on the web
  • Get some useful work experience if you don’t already have it
  • Learn how to structure and improve your CV
  • Keep your LinkedIn and other social networks up to date
  • Know what you’re looking for in a career path

Take a look at some of Graduate Coach’s other articles on these topics – they could really help to break the barriers slowing you down.

Written by Alex Hogan
Featured photo by Tatiana Syrikova from Pexels

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