Earning

4 ways to advance your career from home, according to experts

Twenty/20

Whether you've been recently laid off or furloughed, or you're working from home and social distancing, there are smart things you can do now to advance your career, experts say.

This time spent at home actually presents an opportunity to consider your career trajectory and be proactive in moving it forward. Is there a higher-level position you'd want to reach in the future? Are there opportunities in the job market today that you could be taking to help you get to where you want to be?

It also gives you a chance to ask yourself if you're really in the career you want to be pursuing. Is there another field you'd want to explore? 

If you have time, use it to get ahead. "Every day," says Vicki Salemi, career expert for Monster, consider doing "a task that could move you towards your goal of that job or that new career."

Here are four things you can do to further your career while social distancing.

Take an online course

"In today's world," says Jocelyn Kung, a leadership coach and founder of The Kung Group, "there are few things you can't learn online if you put your mind to it." Anything from real estate to sales to marketing can all be taught online, she says, including licenses and certifications for a new career.

If you're considering a career shift or looking to gain a new skill set to make you even more attractive to recruiters in your field, now is the time to take advantage of online courses. Kung suggests platforms like the following:

  • Khan Academy, which offers free online classes in anything from computer science to LSAT testing
  • Udemy, which offers classes in anything from business to photography starting at just $10.99 per course
  • General Assembly, which offers immersive programs on everything from data science to design. Prices are a bit steeper and range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the course

Various colleges and universities also offer a variety of certification programs online.

In today's world, there are few things you can't learn online if you put your mind to it.
Jocelyn Kung
Leadership coach

Set up informational interviews

An informational interview is an informal conversation in which you can ask someone in your prospective profession about what it's like to work in that field. This is a good way to see if a prospective industry really is for you and to start building a network of people in it who can inform you when positions open up or connect you with hiring managers.

Setting up informational interviews is a great way to network, too. 

"You can reach out to people now," says Salemi. She suggests reaching out to former colleagues or people in your circle. They "may have time on their hands and they might be open to an informational interview over the phone."  

You can get even bolder and find "the department VPs of the companies you are targeting and call them, email them, send them a LinkedIn message at the very least," says Kung. "Do everything that the 'average' person wouldn't do so that you don't achieve average results."

Ask anyone you'd like to have an informational interview with if they'd be open to chatting with you about their job and field for 20 or 30 minutes and prepare a list of questions you'd like to ask.

Update your resume 

Reexamine your resume and ensure it's in good shape to be sent out immediately. Have you added your most recent job experience? Are you including some of your remote work skills, like being able to manage your time well and being comfortable with technology, as these might come into play and help set you apart from other candidates?

No matter what position you're applying for, make sure the details on your resume are correct, including your spelling and grammar. 

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Creating several versions of your resume, depending on the types of jobs you're applying for, is a good approach, Salemi says.

"Employers list the job description in descending order in terms of the most important responsibilities and experiences they're looking for," says Salemi. "It's OK to reorder [your resume] in such a way that you're better suited to match the job that you're pursuing."

Monster also offers cover letter templates so you can write your cover letter quickly and be immediately ready to apply for any job that opens up. 

Set up alerts for jobs and apply ASAP

Set up alerts on job sites like Monster, LinkedIn, and Indeed that can help keep you posted about open positions in your field or fields you're thinking about.

Check sites like FlexJobs, CareerBuilder, Glassdoor, Google for Jobs, and ZipRecruiter regularly for relevant openings. Follow the social media accounts of companies you're interested in, as they may post openings there, and apply for jobs directly on their websites.

Ask people your network if they know of openings in your field and if they can make an intro to someone. Try checking  your school's alumni office to see if they have contacts or leads for open positions.

Then, when you see or hear about a job you're interested in, apply quickly.

"Don't procrastinate," says Salemi, "because now there's going to be an influx of job seekers as well, so you need to be first." Employers are getting bombarded with applications. The earlier you get yours in, the more quickly they can consider and be impressed by your application.

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