Young professionals face unprecedented challenges from today’s slow economy, competition from a global workforce, and contracting industries here in the US. America’s youngest workers need tools today to not only guide them to establishing a satisfying career in a growing field, but to help them nurture their careers for the long haul. We as career counselors hold the keys to helping these emerging professionals remain competitive for professional jobs across the lifespan of their careers.
One of the best ways to help Millennials succeed is to keep them focused on their career goals, which will ultimately increase the contribution they can make to their employers. Pulling from tools we already have, I have designed a career plan that counselors can use as a framework for guiding those who are pursuing or maintaining high-potential careers.
Best Practice #1: Keep Track of Your Accomplishments, Skills and Projects
Don’t risk your client waking up 15 years from now and forgetting who they did business with, what projects they worked on, or how to recast their experience into the form of the accomplishments they have made. Dynamically archiving their accomplishments, skills and projects worked on, will result in a powerful collection of their career work. It will also keep them focused on opportunities and committed to making a standout difference.
Best Practice #2: Develop and Expand Your Network
Never before has a professional network been so powerful. Resist the temptation to allow your clients to “Link-In” to anyone. Encourage them to establish meaningful and lasting relationships. Meaningful and lasting relationships need to be nurtured by both parties, sharing the right help at the right time.
Best Practice #3: Identify and Build Your Expertise
What’s your client’s expertise? Resist their hesitation to state it or allow you to explore it with them because they are young. Encourage them to establish themselves as an expert in their field by speaking, writing or presenting within their company or professional association. The sooner they identify their expertise, the more momentum they will have for building it.
Best Practice #4: Write Career Goals
Prevent floating! (That’s what most people do!) Writing career goals is a significant statement that one is self directed and proactive in their career. Encourage your clients to identify short term obstacles and write career goals that include plans to overcome those obstacles. Guide them to explore their industry’s outlook and how they can use their expertise to tap potential not yet found or optimized.
Best Practice #5: Keep Your Resume Current
Whether your client is planning on staying in their job for years, or always on the lookout for a better opportunity, impress upon them the importance and relevance of keeping their resume current. Reviewing one’s resume every 6 months keeps one focused on their career and allows for no accomplishment to be left uncounted for. For those in steady and satisfying jobs, this could be in the form of an internal resume in advance of upcoming opportunities for promotion or salary increase.
Best Practice #6: Manage Your Professional Image
Do your client’s actions reflect their intentions? Matching the two can take the energy of an athlete, especially when it comes to diverse interpersonal relations in the workplace. Encourage your clients to audit their dress, language, gestures and tone to be sure they are conveying a professional image. Remember, 70% of all communication is visual.
Best Practice #7: Build a Personal Career Portfolio
Help your clients take pride in their careers by creating a portfolio reflecting their experience. Portfolios are no longer just for artists and journalists. Portfolios are for everyone in this competitive workforce who wants to stand out from the crowd. Get creative!
Best Practice #8: Keep a Dynamic Target List
Ask your clients to look around their world of work. Who are their clients? Who are their vendors? Who supplies their company? Those are the people and companies who will be most likely to interview them if they look for another job.
Best Practice #9: Create a Personal Board of Advisors
Your client is not expected to manage their career single-handedly. Why not encourage them to seek the guidance of others as a way to learn, grow relationships and expand their thinking?
Best Practice #10: Develop Your Leadership Style
There are so many wonderful books and resources on various forms of leadership. Without letting your own leadership style preferences bleed through, lead them to resources they can tap to learn about how they can develop their own leadership style. Whether it’s a book, article, presentation or professional development class, help you clients see themselves as one of America’s future leaders.
Too often after we graduate college, we assume a job will appear and will turn into a career. There is also the assumption that we are worthy of the lucrative and satisfying path that our college education paved for us. Here is a Bonus Best Practice which I feel is tantamount to shifting the career perspective of these important emerging professionals from entitlement to self-direction.
Best Practice #11: Develop a Global Perspective
Your clients are competing against a global pool of workers who have incredible skills and a tremendous work ethic. Understanding global issues facing companies will give your clients a competitive edge in managing their communication across cultures within their company, and in understanding the global opportunities facing their company.
Shift your perspective on how you can help these clients. These are America’s youngest workers and guiding them to succeed and stay competitive is one of the greatest contributions we can make from our field.
Julie LaCroix, M.A. Ed.
A former Wall Street recruiter for nearly a decade, Julie LaCroix discovered that her own sense of purpose was firmly grounded in helping talented clients strengthen and define their personal stories as they climbed the ladders of success. Her work with these individuals was the catalyst for earning an M. A. in Educational Counseling. She is a career counselor in private practice serving college graduates and emerging professionals in the Southern California area as they explore and establish their careers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org