Pathway to Career Advancement: Planning your Next Move [infographic]

You’re done! You earned that bachelor’s or master’s degree or finished a certification. Now what? Some advice… Take stock. Do you need a break? Where do you want to be in 2yrs? What can you do now you couldn’t do without the credential? Now qualified for internal opps? Eligible for promotion? Want more education?

I wanted to share a 10-step process for carving a pathway toward your next move.

One of the most common notes I receive from alumni:

“Hi Rebecca. I am on the job hunt. I have updated my resume and am searching around for jobs but honestly I am lost. I don’t know where to begin or steps I should be taking. I am spinning. Can you please provide me with some guidance?”

-many variations from many past students

Because this question has arrived in my email in-box so frequently, I created a 10-step “Pathway to Career Advancement.”

Infographic created by Rebecca L. Cooney (7-step version)

Pathway to Career Advancement

  • 1) Where do you want to live and work? Are you willing to relocate?

    Before you head down the rabbit hole of job search, take some time to narrow down your preferences on where you want to live and work. Take into consideration if you are willing to relocate. Create a quick wish list of no more than 5 regions. As work-from-home opportunities are becoming more available, if you are interested in working remotely, you can add “remote” to your list as well.

  • 2) Begin to identify companies you want to work for.

    Once you have narrowed your desired geographic regions, you can start looking for companies you want to work for. A great place to start is the area Chamber of Commerce that will have a comprehensive list of organizations in each region. You can also do a general Google search for “companies in [city].”

  • 3) Create a spreadsheet and begin collecting data.

    I have found that having a single place to collect data is really helpful. You can make notes, keep track of progress. Here is a start to that spreadsheet. I encourage you to customize it and add “status” columns when you have conducted an informational interview, applied, or interviewed.

    sample spreadsheet headers
  • 4) Visit company sites to see if/what jobs are available.

    Visit their websites – do they have a section for Jobs or Careers (if it’s not in the main menu – look in their page footer). Then go to LinkedIn and look them up – see if they have a “Jobs” tab and take note of what is available. You can also do a general search through Indeed or Glassdoor.

  • 5) Identify jobs that interest you.

    As you see jobs that interest you and begin to populate your spreadsheet.

  • 6) Make note of job post keywords.

    Look at each job posting and make a note of all keywords and phrases they list for what they describe for duties, qualifications, and desired skills.

  • 7) Go to your LinkedIn profile – how does it match up to these job opportunities?

    In LinkedIn – see how your profile matches up to these jobs. Do this by logging in to LinkedIn, searching on a job that intrigues you, and seeing how your qualifications match up. Chances are you will need to update your LinkedIn profile – making adjustments to your core skills and competencies. For example – you may want to de-emphasize your background in graphic design but over-emphasize your experience in project management, working with data, analytics, or customer relations. You should also make sure you have updated technical skills noted in your profile. >> Refer to my LinkedIn Essentials post for more details

  • 8) Access your most current resume and cover letters

    Once you see where your LinkedIn profile needs adjustments in order to match with these job postings – you can tweak your resume and cover letter so everything is in alignment.

  • 9) Customize your resume and cover letter for EACH job you want to apply for.

    Your resume and cover letters should speak directly to the positions – touching on all keywords and phrases. >> Learn more about writing great cover letters from Glassdoor. View my 5 Essential Resume Elements and visit Glassdoors tips for the “perfect resume.”

  • 10) Start applying!

    Now that you have narrowed your search, compiled some data, and updated your LinkedIn profile, resume, and cover letter – you are ready to put yourself out there and begin the application process.

So I hope this is helpful. This is not a process I read somewhere – it is one I have created that gives professionals seeking new opportunities a launch pad as they embark on the career advancement journey. Best of luck!

#KeepGoing #KeepGrowing

This post is part of Rebecca L. Cooney’s Professional Pathways – Never Stop Learning series. Check out more posts in the Professional Pathways category.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Cooney is a Clinical Associate Professor of Strategic Communication and Director of Murrow Online Programs at The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She is also a Research Associate for the Center of Excellence for Natural Product-Drug Interaction Research. Rebecca has more than 26 years of professional experience. Her core areas of expertise include user experience design, integrated communication, brand strategy, and digital communications. She holds a BA in organizational communications and MS in communications and is the recipient of the 2019 Oaks Award for innovation in teaching, 2015 Scripps Howard Visiting Professor in Social Media, and 2014 Plank Center Educator Fellow awards.

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