4 Ways to Take Control of Your Career

By Debra Feldman '74PH of the Columbia Career Coaches Network

It's too late for a quick landing when you are actively looking and need or want a new opportunity. The shortest search happens when an individual is ready for a change and a hiring decision maker extends an unsolicited job offer. As a future candidate, you can influence the recruiting process by networking purposefully to attract the decision makers who have hiring authority for the roles you want.


There is no way to control employers. Job seekers are the sellers these days. Like every other product or service that needs a buyer, you have to package yourself: be visible, accessible, demonstrate desired features, be competitive with alternative candidates, and be better than others to stand out and be remembered. You must know what you want. Don't foolishly expect employers to figure out how you fit or why they need you; show them the benefits you offer.

Demonstrate your value to them. Get on their radar before you are in transition and the chances increase that they will approach you first through a personal recommendation or discover you when they search online. With the right connections, your next job search is already in progress and you are constantly a potential recruit without doing anything more than going about your everyday life interacting with your universal network, not just the people you work with on a regular basis.

Job search success in today's environment is more complicated. In the past, if you had a strong resume that matched the employer’s advertised requirements and it was delivered to the HR department, you could expect to hear from the company. If you were qualified, you'd be invited to interview. Fast forward to the present, and a great resume and matching the employer’s criteria are not enough to get an interview.

Career success means being having the right credentials AND being a pro at the process of attracting opportunities, not just pursuing an open position. It is not enough to be the best candidate "on paper" or knowing with 100% confidence that you can do the job, want the job, and are the best one for that job. Landing a new position in today's environment requires making a personal, one-to-one connection. For that to happen, a candidate or future job seeker must attract an opportunity by standing out and showing how or why they can be trusted to do the job. What can YOU do to slant the odds in your favor when you are ready for a new job? Start your search before you need that new job—waiting until you are not employed or absolutely at your wit's end is NOT a good idea. You must plan ahead, prepare before you need a new job. Put simply, the right time to begin a job search is even before you have a reason to start actively seeking a new job. In fact, it's a good idea to have the frame of mind that you never stop being open to a new opportunity, because you can't control employers.

Since no job is forever, career success depends on strong career attraction knowledge, not just your executive business skills. Job searching is not applying for advertised listings but is a continuous process like keeping up with current events, devoting time to a hobby, taking care of your health, and being kind and generous. In fact, you can incorporate job searching activities and be a more attractive candidate going about your life in the usual way. Check back for more tips on how easy it is to implement each step below and be sure you have permanent, sustained career attraction.

1. Following thought leaders, staying in touch with industry trends, and monitoring company news—who?—to identify connections, be aware of business trends, and market needs. Reach out and exchange one-on-one via comments and congratulatory notes. Be curious and take a deeper dive to learn more. Immerse yourself to accelerate transition into a new field.

2. Having a hobby—what?—the people you interact with are part of your network, people who know, like, and trust you and may be able to recommend or refer you to a job lead, Passion produces purpose; it could be the right time to transform a hobby into a career.

3. Staying healthy—how?—connecting with people you know through your sports teams, gym workouts, or neighborhood runs. Exercise and good nutrition helps you be ready to face new challenges and have a more positive outlook naturally.

4. Volunteering, making donations and being nice, empathetic, thoughtful, and considerate—why?—more contacts and the chance to learn and develop new skills, Be an organizer or program planner, build your reputation as someone likable, willing to pitch in, a person who attracts interest and conversation. Share your knowledge: write an article, do a workshop, give a talk for your professional colleagues or for people who share your interests in your community.


Debra Feldman is a part of the Columbia Career Coaches Network— a group of over 20 accredited professional alumni career coaches who provide fee-based consulting and volunteer for the Columbia Alumni Association's free professional development programs throughout the year. She is recommended by Columbia Business School. 

She is also the JobWhiz™, a nationally recognized executive talent agent and job search expert who implements swift, strategic, customized senior level job search campaigns personally making live C-level and board member introductions. She accelerates hiring offers and delivers inside contacts providing “career insurance” to last a lifetime. Her gift for Networking Purposefully™ banishes employment roadblocks, expands inside connections and leverages virtual relationships to access viable leads in the hidden job market. Learn more about her groundbreaking techniques that eliminate gatekeepers and put you in control again. Contact Debra now at www.JobWhiz.com to expedite your professional ascent!

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