What it Takes to Recharge Your Career

Two professionals learn that a strong network and a willingness to take risks can lead to stellar career opportunities

There are a number of ways to recharge or reset your career.
Career experts offer the following advice to steer you in the right direction:

Do a self-assessment.
“Most job hunters are going in the wrong direction because they don’t know what they really want,” says Cousin. Once you do a self-assessment you can begin to network with those who are doing what you want to do. “You’ll have a better return on investment in this process.”

Update your skills.
Volunteering is a great way to develop the skills you will need for your next opportunity. For example, if you are looking for a position with a company whose mission is in education, then carve out time to help your local school or church develop its current program, suggests Marsha Haygood, founder of StepWise Associates L.L.C., a career and professional development consultancy. Teaching is also a good way to stay relevant in an industry. In-between jobs, Shaw taught at a university. If you are unsure about the requirements of a specific industry, consult job boards or, like Shaw, speak to recruiters and set up informational interviews. “They will tell you what you’re missing,” says Cousin.

Keep your network fresh.
Shaw and Godfrey both relied on their networks as they searched and prepared for their next opportunity. Haygood emphasizes the importance of regularly staying in touch with people, when you don’t need anything. “You can send a quick text or e-mail to say, ‘Hey, just thinking of you. Hope all is well. Have a great summer. Let’s touch base soon.’”

Do your research.
“Come up with five to 10 companies that you really want to work for,” says Haygood. “Find out if you know anyone who knows someone at the company. Learn as much about the company culture as you can.” Research should include using LinkedIn to identify employees who work at these companies and who could offer more insight on company culture as well as opportunities and challenges. You should also know the company’s competition to stay abreast of what’s happening in the industry.

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