5 Tips for Staying Employable as a Young Professional

professional_developmentWhether you’re just about to start your first professional job or you’ve been working for a few years, the need to keep your skills fresh and relevant is always present. US workers will hold an average of 11 jobs over the course of their lifetime; your first professional job is not likely going to be your last. Here are 5 tips for staying employable, even when you’re already employed:

1. Continue networking – Even though you have a job and are not actively searching for employment, continue to network and build your base of professional connections.

  • Consider joining professional associations either through your employer’s memberships or on your own.
  • Leverage the power of social media to stay connected with like-minded professionals all over the world.
  • Use a variety of strategies to network, even when your work schedule is full.

2. Read broadly in your field – Stay current by reading articles from your professional associations’ publications and various trade journals.

  • Follow, and engage, your industry’s thought leaders on Twitter and LinkedIn, and read up on the trends and movements impacting your field.
  • Subscribe to relevant blogs and other curators of industry news.

3. Take a class – Keep your skills and knowledge fresh by taking classes or seminars in your field.

  • Some employers may provide on-going professional development support through conferences, webinars, classes, training seminars, etc.
  • Whether or not your employer provides this benefit, don’t limit yourself to their offerings.
  • You can participate in learning opportunities that expand your knowledge base through local community colleges, national professional associations, or web-based MOOCs.

4. Conduct information interviews – Informational interviewing can be an integral part of networking, but it can also be done to identify the most relevant needs within your field.

  • Reach out to professionals who are further along in their careers and find out what skills and experiences they believe are essential. For example:
    • Is there software you need to master? (“You need to be an Excel superstar to do this job.”)
    • Supervisory skills you should develop? (“We typically hire professionals with at least 3 years of supervisory experience.”)
    • Populations you should be supporting? (“All our staff have extensive experience working with youth aged 10-15 yrs.”)

5. Take on new responsibilities – Assuming that the work you’ve been hired to do is being accomplished (and well!), taking on additional responsibilities can help you develop new skills and possibly expose you to a wider range of professionals at work.

  • Express your interest in taking on a wider range of responsibilities with your immediate supervisor.
  • Offer to help colleagues with projects, making sure to ask questions along the way so you can maximize the help you provide.

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