Have you found yourself with a bit more time to contemplate your career recently? You may be one of the millions of Americans who have had to endure (or enjoy?) mandatory working from home in recent months, or perhaps you’re one of the many more millions who have sadly been left out of a job due to the recent situation?

Whichever category you fit into, you may find that you’ve suddenly been face to face with your own job mortality, or at least been given a shocking wake-up call that shows you that perhaps this isn’t what you wanted to be doing for the next 40 years?

If any of that feels like you then have no fear, help is on its way!

Making the Change

Never has the quote often attributed to Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world” been more appropriate. It certainly seems now that change can only happen if we are willing to make it happen, but right now, things are a little bit tough. It is not quite as easy as going out and getting a new job, especially as employment is at a record low, and the recruiting industry has all but ground to a halt.

You are not alone; many people are facing the same fears as you. What will separate you from the crowd, though, is the sheer determination to DO something rather than talk about it, but what can you do?

You might be thinking, this is all I can do, but you would be wrong. Human beings have an amazing capability to adapt to situations as they arise, to change with the tide, but the most essential thing you must remember I that no one can do this for you. If you are serious about getting a new job and getting a better job, then you need to be willing to put in the effort to get there. 

After all, there is no dream worth having unless you are prepared to pay the price to earn that dream, and the road may not be easy; there are no hard facts in dreams, you will always hear a voice telling you it’s not possible.

Building Your Career Prospects

If you are serious about refining your career prospects, look at these tips below and start building an action plan for your life today.

Boost Your Networking Skills

Networking. Most people hate it. There are not many people who jump out of bed at 5 am on a Friday morning to get to that 6 am networking meeting before they must clock in with joy. 

Do you know the people who do, though? They are the people who are going places. They are the people who are meeting people. They are the people who are improving their career prospects.

Networking events and opportunities come in all shapes and sizes. From formal events to chance meetings. Start to see every occasion as an opportunity to network. Instead of saying “I’m an office admin assistant, but I like taking photos of dogs”, lead with what you love, “I am a budding pet photographer with a few sessions under my belt, I work in an office during the day to pay the bills”.

Get Educated

Education is the key that opens doors. It is not enough anymore to say, ‘I went to high school, and I wasn’t allowed to go any further’, you need to be more positive with your plan. 

Is there a skill that your industry (or your ideal industry) requires? Find out if you can take a course in it. Aston University has compiled data that shows that students who gain an MBA earn, on average, 35-45% more than their peers. 

Education really does pay, the expense may be an outlay at first, but it will pay you back in dividends. Even taking simple classes to improve your writing, mathematics skills, your confidence, or even a course in a personal interest subject can be a great way to get back into the groove of education.

As a side note, taking extra education courses, be they personal interest-based, or more formal courses like the MBA mentioned above, will look fantastic on a CV and show a new potential employer that you’re not afraid to learn new things.

Work on Your Body Language

You’ve heard that first impressions count, but did you know that approximately 70-80% of communication is non-verbal? Of course, your clothes and your attention to detail when it comes to grooming will say a lot about you on the surface. Still, your body language says a lot about you and your attitude to work in general, and people are more likely to pick up on body language before anything else.

Canadian Clinical Psychologist and Lecturer at the University of Toronto, Professor Jordan B Peterson, take a note from the lobster world as a good starting point for excellent communication when he writes: “Rule 1: Stand up straight with your shoulders back” (Twelve Rules For Life).

The biological theory of this idea is very sound, the ancient part of the brain that controls the release of serotonin and dopamine (the happiness and confidence hormones) is so old that we have no control over it. We share the same system with many living creatures, like lobsters.

When lobsters are low on serotonin, they hunch over and look downtrodden, they are an easy target for other male lobsters and not an attractive mate for female lobsters. The same theory applies to humans. If we continuously look downtrodden, hunched over and miserable, we are giving signals to our ancient brain that we are worthless, and we do not get that all-important serotonin hit. 

So, stand up tall, deep breath, and ‘fake it ’till you make it’. Giving off an air of confidence and strength gives other people confidence in your abilities to perform and makes you seem like a good candidate -especially in an interview. Amy Cuddy, in her famous Ted Talk, calls this the power pose and actively encourages it just before an interview. Try it today!