Winter break is here at last! Indeed, it is a time of fun and leisure for all, but don’t forget to continue your professional development. Continuing to further your professional development is key and will help you stand out from other candidates!
A great strategy to start off with is polishing that resume! Begin by taking a look at some of the employers you’d like to work for, or networking opportunities you have planned for the future. Tailor your resume to each individual meeting, interview, company, etc. Remember that a resume should rarely exceed a page in length!
Networking is another great way to continue your professional development during winter break. Any professional networks and recommendations you might already have are important. Make sure you categorize and/or write down all of these resources. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to also send a Holiday greetings! It is a great way to start up a conversation if you haven’t spoken in a while. Remember to keep it simple as people do vary in their religious beliefs and holiday celebrations.
When it comes to networking, knowing the different types of networks that are out there can be beneficial. The top three networks to keep in mind are your Formal, Informal, and Academic networks.
- Formal: Managers, members of your professional team, links with your professional association or trade union, formal mentoring relationships and tutors.
- Informal: People you lunch with, develop ideas with, people you seek help and advice from on an informal basis.
- Academic: Tutors, teachers, fellow students, staff, alumni and advisors.
Oftentimes it can be intimidating to approach some members of these networks. Could you seek their support? What could you have to offer them? How does one even approach them? Here are some helpful tips to guide along this process:
- Don’t be afraid to ask. You won’t go anywhere or make any progress without taking some chances. You may be rejected, but that does not mean you failed. Focus on other people you wish to contact and how they can benefit you.
- Be explicit about what you seek, and make it relatively modest. Public figures often have concerns about talking on open-ended commitments, so be explicit about what you want and then be prepared to modify this if the contact says, “I am not prepared to give you that, but I will give you this.”
- Ask if there is anything that you can do in return. Writers, in particular, often want their ideas testing with groups of potential users, so if you have access to such people either through school or work, offer to write up some results and send it to them.
- DO YOUR HOMEWORK! If the target of your attention has written or made public speeches, get a hold of the text and approach them as an informed and interested inquirer, rather than a professional networker.
Polishing your resume and networking are key to anyone looking to develop as a professional and winter break is the perfect opportunity to do so. The amount of interviews scheduled during breaks, especially winter, is low. So take advantage of any opportunities and put yourself out there! Don’t forget to spend time with friends and family of course, that is what breaks are for!