In an environment where every day seems to bring more bad news, meetings professionals and hospitality partners alike are focused on demonstrating new ways they can add value to their organization. We are finding ways to pivot through innovation. We are reinventing not only the industry that we are passionate about or the department that we call family, but also ourselves and our careers. We need to proactively seek out new skills and build on our current strengths. We need to raise our hands for opportunities or make our own opportunities. The goal of this blog post is to equip the FICP community with new ideas and ways to take the next step in their careers during this difficult time.
At Prudential, we have several career principles. They act as a guide for employees, reminding us of ways we can work towards our goals. Setting these goals can seem overwhelming at first, but there are actions you can take every day, week or month, to work towards accomplishing them. I encourage you to research your organization’s principles or create your own! I’ve interpreted three key takeaways from Prudential’s guiding principles:
- Mentors, sponsors and leadership can play key supporting roles in your advancement, but you have to take responsibility for your career path.
- Continuing education and seeking challenges is crucial to staying relevant in your field and gaining new experiences that will help you move into “stretch roles.”
- Find ways to drive results for your organization, impact people and make career decisions with purpose.
Now that we have these guidelines, how do we put them into action? Keeping in mind that this is a personal journey, and no one size fits all, I called on the experts from Prudential’s Human Resources (HR) Talent Team for more insight.
In the next section, we will review the following:
- Ways to expand your skill set
- Ideas for virtual networking
- How to develop a skills-based resume
- Tips for interviewing
Currency of Skills
One of the best gifts a friend gave me was a book – “Strengths Finder 2.0.” At the time, I was feeling lost and wanted a career change. I didn’t know how to articulate my skill set and its application. This book was a catalyst for my pivot into the meetings and events industry. Whether it’s a book, a test or self-reflection, take inventory of your skill set. You will find you have more to offer than you think. It is natural to want to improve weaknesses, but it’s even more effective to build on your strengths. Don’t ignore the things at which you excel. They will help you advance in your career.
How are your skills transferable? The workforce is shifting to a skills-based economy. The linear career path is slowly becoming a thing of the past, making way for more opportunity to apply for stretch positions. Your job title is no longer the only indicator of your potential. Step outside your comfort zone and apply your skills to different positions that you didn’t think were available to you. Connect the dots between your attributes and how you can make an impact in your desired role.
It is never too early to set yourself up for advancement. Even if you have no intention of moving into a new role in the near future, the work you put in now will pay off when it’s time to make a move. In your current role, think about how you can continue to grow and learn outside of your daily responsibilities. Always look for ways to learn on the job and raise your hand when the opportunity presents itself. You need to be a self-starter, seeking applicable webinars, courses or trainings to accomplish your goals. Start researching what skills are in demand in your industry. What trends do you see? What skills are advancing and declining? What steps can you take to stay ahead of the curve and market yourself? Continuing education (CE) is paramount to the “skills-based economy.” For me, that translates into setting aside time on a weekly basis to listen to webinars of interest that will help me earn the CE hours needed for my Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) recertification. I encourage you to visit the FICP Anytime page to learn more about our industry’s designations, and how they can help you take the next step in your career.
Nice to E-Meet You
Networking is closely linked to career success. Many of us have experienced this firsthand. Every position I’ve held to date has been a result of a referral from someone in my network. Developing your network can lead to your next job offer, help you gain valuable industry insights, develop a new skill and create meaningful relationships. Making the initial connection with peers is only one piece of the puzzle; developing and maintaining those relationships in your professional network will help you achieve your career goals.
Everyone has a different comfort level with networking, whether in person or virtually. If you aren’t sure where to start, begin by networking with people you already know. You can even start right here within our FICP community. Here are some ideas for how to get started:
LinkedIn is another popular source of online professional interactions. It’s important that there is a balance of give and take, as you build your virtual profile and presence. How would you describe your current virtual presence? Is your profile updated with robust experiences? Do you have a recent photo displayed? How do you contribute to your online community? Do you frequently post and share articles?
It is more effective to be consistently engaged in your online network and connect with purpose, than to only activate when you are looking for a job and your primary goal is self-promotion. I’ve highlighted key networking tips below:
- Join LinkedIn Groups to interact with people around a specific focus, or consider starting your own Group
- Create an impactful Elevator Pitch, and continue to refine as you gain new experiences
- Like, share and comment to regularly provide valuable content and establish yourself as a thought leader
- Don’t rely on your online interactions alone to build lasting relationships – take it a step or two further and set up time for a phone call, or meet for coffee in person or virtually
- Set aside time each week to care for your network
- Networking is all about listening – your primary focus should be learning from others and providing value in return
Reimagine Your Resume
There are two types of resumes: chronological and skills-based. Each has its own function. The chronological resume outlines progressive roles you’ve had in the past, showcasing your gradually increasing responsibility and depth of experience. This resume is most effective when used to apply to a role in your linear career trajectory.
A skills-based resume groups your experiences by specific skills, rather than dates and titles. If you are changing your career and need to express how your skills are transferrable to the role of your interest, this is the right resume for you. Depending on the roles you are applying for and the skills they require, you may choose to create a few different versions of this resume type. This allows you to customize your resume, highlighting the relevant skills that are specific to each job.
Since we are more familiar with the chronological resume, I will focus on the skills-based resume. The skills-based resume has five sections, all of which should be succinctly outlined on one page:
- Work Experience
The “Summary” expresses your professional attributes and why you are qualified for the position in a few sentences. Next, pick three to four skills to highlight in the main body of your resume. For each skill set listed, give a few examples of your applicable experiences and accomplishments. Wherever possible, add metrics to support your impact. Remember to show consistency in the length and number of bullet points under each skill. The “Work Experience” section should list the company name, job title and employment dates of all your present and previously held roles. The “Education” section is similarly outlined, listing the institutions you attended and degrees you earned. Completing the resume, the “Extras” section, adds relevant professional value. Examples of extras include, professional affiliations, projects completed, professional development courses, certifications, community involvement and articles published.
Whether using a chronological or a skills-based resume, be sure to proofread your work! Eliminate any spelling or grammatical errors, and double check the accuracy of the information you are providing. Correctly leveraging headings, subheadings, bullet points, varying font sizes and font formatting (bold, underline, italic) will make your resume more reader friendly. It’s always a good idea to have a second set of eyes on your work. Ask a trusted friend or mentor to review your resume and provide feedback before submitting it.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The foundation of a successful interview is repetition. Interviewing is not a skill that we often practice. For many, myself included, it’s a skill that is dusted off every few years. It’s also something that can trigger anxiety. The more you prepare, the more comfortable you will feel in front of the hiring team.
To start your interview preparation, ensure you have a solid grasp of the job description. If you are applying for a job outside of your current organization, learn as much as you can about the company you aspire to work for and their values. What are the core components of the role? What does the manager or team need? How can you fulfill that need?
Once you have a foundation, start thinking of examples of past instances where you’ve demonstrated skills that are core to the job description. At Prudential, we reference a widely used technique called the SBI Method to craft these examples. It is based on the principle that past behavior indicates future behavior. SBI stands for Situation, Behavior, Impact. The situation is an event, project or challenge that you faced in your career. The behavior is the approach you took to combat this obstacle or solve for the situation. The impact is the result your actions had on the situation, your team, your client or your organization. Bonus points if you have quantifiable metrics to support your impact! If you ever feel like you are getting off track with your examples, always remember to circle back to the impact. The more you practice your behavioral examples and responses to foreseeable interview questions, the more comfortable and natural your responses will be the day of the interview.
In our current virtual environment, it’s imperative to practice in front of a screen, whether it’s your laptop, tablet or phone. Recording yourself, and watching it back, can also help you improve. If you are pivoting in your career, interviewing for a role you haven’t held before, don’t be intimidated. You are being interviewed because the hiring team saw potential in you.
Finally, it’s important to engage with the hiring team during the interview and prepare questions to ask them about the role. It’s not a one-sided conversation. Asking follow-up questions and clarifying questions shows your level of engagement and interest.
There’s a lot to digest here! It’s not meant to overwhelm or provide a checklist of things to do, but to encourage you to self-reflect and set goals for yourself. Now more than ever, we need to demonstrate our value to our team, our clients, our organization and our network. Yes, we are organized, detail-oriented and can multitask. But we are also so much more than those quintessential meetings professional qualities. We should not put our skill sets in a box. We cannot go into defense mode or let imposter syndrome adversely affect our career path. There is no time like the present for self-improvement and purposeful change. What is the next step in your journey?
Amanda Brennan, CMP
Senior Meeting Planner, Conference & Meeting Services