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Many times I talk to my career coaching clients about what work they have really done during their career. 20 years of experience doesn’t matter if you have done the same thing every year. 5 years of experience can mean so much more if you continue to learn and stay relevant in your field.

You want to be considered a source of knowledge, or even an expert in your field in order to gain the trust of clients and potential referral sources. This means following relevant news sources and publications, attending professional development events and seminars, networking, reading, and anything else that will help you learn, so that you’re able to show clients that you are up-to-date in your field.

Recently, I had a couple conversations with an IT professional about purchases and news that were related to that field. I was surprised to hear that in both instances, this person was not aware of what I was talking about. This immediately made me hesitant to refer business to this person. I bring up this example so you can ask yourself if you would ever find yourself in that situation. How up-to-date are you in your field? Do you continue to find ways to learn and stay relevant?

There seems to be a big range in the level of activity I see in people’s job searches. One client who landed a new position recently told me to tell my clients to talk to everyone, apply to everything, and try anything. Maybe this is more than most people would do, but I also see other clients who sit back, and think that opportunities will come to them. People have to know you’re looking and they have to know what you’re looking for. ┬áSome people are lucky and do have opportunities come to them, but we can’t rely on this method in a job search.

Whether you’re a job seeker, a business owner who is trying to gain new clients, or in any other position where you’re trying to grow in some way, ask yourself if you’re doing everything you can to make that happen.

I have been hearing more and more from my career coaching clients that employers are looking for an “exact fit” when they’re interviewing potential employees. Unfortunately, this occurs when there is a surplus of strong candidates going after very few open positions.

So…how do you get noticed?

One way it to make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile are populated with the proper keywords. These would be words found on job descriptions of positions you’re applying for, and other buzzwords that are important in your position/industry. This may sound obvious, but once you really stop and think, you’ll probably find that you’re not using some of those essential words. Remember: many recruiters don’t read resumes anymore, they search for keywords!

Another way to stand out is to highlight your accomplishments both in your resume and when you’re speaking. You need to show the results of your actions, not just list off tasks that you’ve completed throughout your career. Let people know what is special about you, don’t assume that they’ll figure it out themselves!

From my Organizational Psychology education at MSPP and various presentations I have attended over the last year, I have learned about the importance of positive psychology. I am happy to see how prominent it is becoming in psychology, and its gradual move into the business world. It gives us the opportunity to let go of what isn’t working, and focus our energy on what is working. Some highlights include learning about Marcus Buckingham and his belief in focusing on strengths, learning and using Appreciative Inquiry, and attending an incredible presentation by Tal Ben-Shahar through HRLF. These are people and tools that are definitely worth learning about if you’re not already aware of them.

When I am career coaching, I help my clients identify their strengths and what they enjoy to do (ideally, they are one and the same!), and then help them find a career where they can use these the majority of the time. We all have to spend some time partaking in activities that are considered our “weaknesses”, but it’s important to spend most of our time using our strengths. This ensures that we are energized and engaged in the workplace, and don’t waste time working in areas where we may never excel.

Have you taken the time to identify your strengths? How often do you get to use them during the workday?