But what exactly does it mean to "update" your resume or "retool" your skills? David Smith, managing director of Accenture's talent and organization practice, gives ten tips for those looking to start, re-start, or re-energize their careers.
- Go Global. On nearly every level, companies are looking to expand into international markets. So seek out opportunities to show you can understand, work with, and be productive with people from other cultures. The best experience, of course, is an overseas stint. If that's not possible, try to at least travel abroad for work or get significant business done with an overseas office
- Lead. It sounds so simple, but how do you lead if no one's following? Don't try to do it on your own-seek out a mentor who can help you take more responsibility on a particular account or will support you as you project leader.
- Do the Math. Math and analytic skills are in wide demand across industries. So don't shrink from those Excel spreadsheets. You don't have to have aced calculus-but anyone who can glean insights from a mass of data is going to have an edge.
- Update Your Tech Skills. It's not all about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and instant messaging-all at the same time. Chances are that your industry has software or technology specific to its needs. You need to make sure you're on top of all the technology advances in your industry, even if that means you have to do it on your own time.
- Know the Business of Business. It's not enough just to be good at your job. You've got to know your industry too-trends, margins, regulatory issues and the earnings reports of your company and your competitors. This will make you more valuable to your employer, and it'll also give you an early heads' up should it be time to make a change.
- Do Something. Anything. Employers want to hire people who are productive and can execute-even if they don't happen to have a job. So get out there and make things happen, as a volunteer, a freelancer, or as an intern or employee in a field that's adjacent to yours.
- Get experience with customers. They're the ones who make and break companies, after all. Customer service skills are becoming more important in all industries.
- Trade Up. For some, learning a trade may seem like a step backward. But there are many industries-microbreweries, for example-that just don't have enough skilled craftsmen (craftspeople? crafters?). Learning a trade, and then putting good business experience and smarts behind that expertise, can be a winning combination.
- Fix Your Online Presence. This should be common sense, but Smith says it bears repeating: Employers are looking at your Facebook page, your LinkedIn profile, your Twitter feed, and googling the heck out of you. Make sure they find a competent professional, not someone whose "friends" posted unflattering pictures from the last beer bash.
- Keep at it. Even when it seems like you're stuck in neutral, keep networking, learning about your industry, and considering different career paths. You never know what you might find.
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Kimberly Weisul is a freelance writer, editor, and editorial consultant. Follow her on twitter at www.twitter.com/weisul.