It all begins in college. This is where you look at your options, think about what excites you, and finally declare a major. Then you get serious about that coursework in our major field, because, after all, future employers will want to look at those grades. From this point forward, you focus on how you can get that entry level position and how you can be a fast rising star in the rather full crowd of “twinklers” out there. Your plans to be successful do begin now, and here are 10 creative ways to purse that success as you move forward.
Before You Have That First Job
1. An Internship
This may not sound like a particularly creative strategy, but it may need to become one. Internships are highly competitive – even more so than the real job market sometimes. Suppose you don’t get an internship – what now? Here’s a creative way around that. Offer to volunteer or an organization in your career niche. Even if you just run errands and get coffee for people, do it. And while you are doing that, use your charm to engage in conversations with others. Be the best, probably only, volunteer they have ever had. Then, when it comes time for your resume, you can add that volunteer work in and give the name of one of those people you used your charm on.
2. The Resume
Obviously nothing happens until your resume gets you an interview. Research ways of making your resume creative. Get online and look at examples of “killer” resumes. Be mindful that there are very conservative organizations and very progressive ones. Your design must match the company’s “culture,” but even with the most conservative, if you can just do one little thing that catches the eye, so it. Maybe a navy or maroon border or subheadings. With a really progressive company, get as creative as you want.
3. Get a Website
It may be a bit thin at first, but it will build over time. If you start your junior year with your resume, and begin to add papers or projects in your major that you get great grades on. Drop these all into a “portfolio” link and keep adding to them. You can weed out later. If you have done any volunteer or community service work, get pictures on that site; if you have been involved in any campus organizations or other worthwhile activities, get those into a link titled “hobbies and interests.” Avoid political campaigns or religious evangelizing – you never know the position of a future employer. (Getting on LinkedIn goes without saying but it’s not creative; and clean up the Facebook page – not creative either).
Once You Have that Job
4. Start a Blog
This is a great way to stay current in your industry – you have to find topics and you have to do research. You’ll learn a lot. And think how learned you will sound in the next meeting when you bring up some study you just read about. Impressive!
5. Take an Online Course or Two
Take courses that are not related to your position specifically but ones that relate to your industry or to other functions in your company. Suppose you are in IT; take a couple of HR courses. You’ll be more professionally “rounded” if you do.
6. Take a Course Totally Unrelated to Your Industry
What interests you? Photography? Painting? Drama? Enroll in one at your community college. Why? You will be more “rounded” personally, and you’ll have more interesting conversation at social get togethers. You never know who might be interested in your outside interest.
7. Learn What People Do in Other Departments
Spend some time at lunch with people from other departments. During some “down time” stop by those departments and make an effort to learn exactly what they do and how they perform the functions of their jobs. They’ll be flattered, feel good about you, and mention to others that you have done this.
8. Be a Low Maintenance Employee
There are a couple in every organization – those people who seem not to be able to sneeze unless they ask the boss first. If they are working on a project they have to check often just to make sure that the boss approves of what has been done so far. They have a continual stream of questions and cannot take initiative. They are seen as pests. Don’t be a pest.
9. Find Some Way to Stand Out
Whether you are the individual who responds to every request faster than anyone else; whether you are the individual who volunteers to do the extra things; whether you are the person who is always willing to help someone else, get known for a positive thing.
10. Try to Find a Side Project
Is there something that is inefficient in your department? Are databases old and out of date? Could a new piece of software streamline a process? Identify a project and then go about attacking it as you have the time. That’s called super-initiative, and it makes your start rise a little bit higher.
Do you have other ideas about creative ways to stand out in your career and get ahead? Leave a comment with your career advice.