Most people will spend about a third of their life at work. On average, people spend 90,000 hours on the job, so it makes sense—and makes for a fulfilling life—to work in an occupation you enjoy and maybe think of a passive income option. If you’re getting ready to enter the work world or thinking about transitioning to a different career, use our guide to help you supercharge your career plans and to build a winning resume that effectively markets your best work-related traits and skills.
What Career Do You Want?
Figuring out what you actually want to do with your career is something some people know from the get-go, and others may struggle to decide. People approach this choice using different criteria. Some people will choose a career based on its expected earnings. Others choose a career based on what they love to do. Some people simply “fall into careers” because they might be offered a job unexpectedly. To ensure that you adopt a career that’s a good fit for you, try to be mindful of your career choices.
What’s Your Passion?
To begin your career search, consider what you’re most passionate about. Remember, you’ll be spending a substantial part of your life on the job. You’ll find it more personally rewarding if you care about what you do. Passion is a great place to begin your deliberations. As you consider what you love to do, consider, too, what you do best. What are your best skills? Ideally, it makes sense to choose a career that combines your passion and skills sets. This pairing is apt to set you up for career success.
Discerning the Differences between a Hobby and Profitable Career
As you begin deciding what career to choose, you might be tempted to turn your hobby into yours. This often works well for people depending on the hobby in question. For example, a person who enjoys working with computers in their free time can certainly turn their hobby into a lucrative career. On the other hand, someone who enjoys macrame might find it more challenging to make a living based on that particular hobby.
Even so, if you’re passionate about your hobby, driven, and disciplined, you may be able to transform it into a profitable passion. However, be realistic with your expectations. Gather as much research as you can so that you make an informed decision about any career path you choose.
Setting Professional Goals
Professional goals help us achieve workplace success. They’re also necessary for ensuring that we become the career professionals we want to be. Typically, if you’re going to be a company CEO, you don’t start as one. You set goals to accept positions that will put you on a trajectory for becoming a CEO. Some common professional goals you should keep in mind include:
- Planning your next career step
- Building and updating your winning resume
- Prepping for job interviews
- Planning a career transition
- Attending career training
The professional goals you set for yourself become your guideposts on your path to career fulfillment. As you set your goals, be mindful of the time needed to achieve them. Stay focused on your goals, so you complete them in a reasonable amount of time or according to your plans.
How to Set Professional Goals
Setting goals helps you build your career. Use these tips to set winning goals:
Align Professional and Personal Goals
If your career and personal goals are at odds, there will be conflict. One of the most common goals is how to juggle a busy career and young family. Do you choose a career conducive to family life, or do you wait to start a family until you reach a certain point in your career? Always consider your personal goals when thinking about setting a career path.
Employ the SMART Method
The SMART method can help you set some realistic goals. The acronym stands for:
- Specific: be specific about what you want to achieve
- Measurable: determine how you can assess your goal and measure your progress
- Achievable: is your goal realistic and something you can work toward achieving?
- Relevant: is this goal related to your long-term plan?
- Time-bound: can you achieve this goal in a certain period of time?
Using the SMART method will help you create actionable goals that will keep your career moving at a strong pace.
Create an Action Plan and Timeline
Once you have your goals in mind, you can develop a plan for achieving each. Again, remember that your timeline is important. While you may need to be flexible about certain deadlines, you definitely want to work to complete each part of your plan in a reasonable amount of time.
Importance of Building a Winning Resume
A resume is an essential tool for someone to develop in order to effectively showcase their job skills, training/education, and past experience. It’s a document that allows employers to determine if they want to meet with you about their open position. A winning resume is one that gets you those calls to schedule interviews. While many employers also review applications as well as candidates’ online presence (i.e. social media), they still rely most heavily on resumes to assess prospective candidates.
Tips to Build a Great Resume
Use these tips to develop your winning resume:
Choose the Right Resume Format
Different resume formats depend on the career industry you choose. If you’re a doctor, your resume (traditional) is going to look different from a format perspective than if you’re a graphic designer (out of the box).
Focus on the Job You Want More than the Jobs You Had
Listing your experience is a crucial part of your resume, but you only have so much space (a page) to convey that experience. Therefore, list the most relevant experience for the job you want to obtain.
Focus on Results
List the successes associated with your previous work experience. Simply listing your responsibilities doesn’t convey to a prospective employer whether or not you fulfilled them successfully.
Use Numbers and Statistics
If you can quantify your successes, so much the better. The number of sales you made in a given year will demonstrate that you’ve been successful much better than simply saying, “I was successful.” Moreover, these measurements are provable; the prospective employer can check your references to verify accuracy.
Focus on Education
If you’re just out of college and searching for a job, focus on elements of your education that relate to the job you want. Employers will want to know what aspects of your training make you a viable candidate.
Don’t Write a Novel
Ideally, your resume should be about one page in length. It can encompass two pages but don’t add filler content. Your resume should include essential information. Prospective employers don’t have time or, typically, the inclination to read overly long resumes.
Maintain a Resume Portfolio
Oh, you thought you’d only need one resume? In all actuality, you’re very likely going to need several. Once you begin the process of applying for jobs, the positions you encounter may vary by degree. To improve your chances of getting an interview, you should tailor your resume to suit the jobs you’re applying for. Save all your resume examples so you can reuse them as needed. Unfortunately, a one-size-fits-all resume may not serve you as well as a customized resume.
Don’t Make Grammar or Usage Mistakes
Resumes should be error-free. You can drop the section on objectives and references (these are givens and take up needless space), but you can’t submit a resume with errors and expect to get a call. If you’re not 100% confident in your editing/proofreading skills, hire someone to perform this service for you.
Network for Career Success
Networking enables you to forge relationships that can help you grow your career. Networking may not only help you advance your career, but it can help you build your skill sets and access new opportunities. Your professional network can consist of current and former colleagues, former professors/trainers, clients, friends, and acquaintances you cultivate at career-related events (i.e., training sessions, seminars, workshops, industry trade shows, etc.).
Many people continue to create their networks via traditional methods such as those mentioned above. You can forge new network connections by introducing yourself at conventions or trade shows. However, the internet offers a wide range of opportunities to grow and maintain your network. Not only will you want to establish a professional presence on social sites like LinkedIn, but you may also want to create network connections by engaging in online discussions, sending emails, or subscribing to industry blogs.
Use these tips to skyrocket your career to success. By goal setting, building a winning resume, and networking, you can grow your career so that it remains a rewarding part of your life. 90,000 hours is a long time to spend on the job. Be sure you’re using that time wisely!