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Career Zombies Awake! How to Rejuvenate Your Career Now That the Economic Upturn Is Here

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Hurrah! Good news at last. A year ago everyone was worrying about the triple dip recession and whether the HR department's slash and burn policy would be heading in their direction. This year, business confidence is on the ascendant with positive economic forecasts for the UK from organisations like the British Chamber of Commerce and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). All the predictions suggest that 2014 will be a year of jobs growth.

This is great news for the unemployed and underemployed who have had an exceptionally difficult time trying to secure a steady job and income over the last few years. It's also the clarion call to the job market that many dissatisfied employees have been waiting for. According to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, 47% of British workers are considering moving jobs in the coming year. As the Managing Director of Personal Career Management, a specialist career coaching company, we're often a port of call for those on their way to the job market, so I can confirm from my own experience that there is indeed a surge of employees heading for the door. They've simply been biding their time until recruitment prospects improved. So if you feel that the last few years you've been career sleep-walking, then it's time to look lively because there is definitely potential this year to rejuvenate your career prospects.

Here are some tips to help.

Re-invigorate your current job
If your organisation's sales figures are on the up, there is talk about growth and hiring new staff, then it's a good time to start a conversation with your boss about your career development. Talk about how you are hoping to develop your career, the skills and experience you want to gain and ask for their advice on what could help you to achieve this. You can ask for that promotion or pay rise but even if these aren't possible, they should at the very least be able to help support your longer term career development and employability.

Perhaps they will pay for a training course, coaching or for you attend a conference or other learning event. You could suggest work-shadowing in another department that interests you, request a mentor, ask to deputise for your boss at certain meetings or run with a research project that you think will give you additional kudos and get you noticed within the organisation. Maybe they will give you time off or support you to do that MBA, community work or some other cross-organisational project which could act as a stepping stone to your next job.

Present yourself as someone who is loyal and committed to the organisation but ambitious for progression and they are likely to be willing to invest time and effort in developing you. Resist the temptation to suggest that if you don't get what you want then you'll leave. This can backfire badly. Remember it's in their interests to keep you happy and engaged as research shows that motivated staff tend to perform better. It's also generally cheaper and easier for organisations to develop you into a new role rather than recruit someone from outside. Career development for staff is a win-win so talk about it as such.

Refresh your Skills and Knowledge
If you've been working in the same job for a while, then your market edge may well have become blunted. Sharpen it again by refreshing your skills, attending professional events, reading trade journals and joining social media forums. You must be able to talk knowledgeably about wider industry trends and issues if you want to convey your transferability to other organisations.

Research what prospective employers want by looking at job adverts and person specification forms as well as talking to recruiters and people you know who work in the field or hire for the type of jobs you are interested in. Their requirements may well have changed since you last looked for a job so be proactive in plugging any gaps so that you'll be ready for those opportunities when they do arise.

Revamp your PR
Long-term employees may well be shocked when they see how the recruitment job market has changed in the last few years. Job websites, digital applications, social media and video interviews are now standard recruitment territory. Yes, you will still need to brush up your CV, but it will also need to be technology friendly given that your CV is likely to be read by recruitment software rather than the human eyes, at least in the first instance. Check out my book "You're Hired! How to write a brilliant CV" for tips on how to make your CV persuasive and accessible in the digital job market.

Linkedin is no longer an option but a necessity for any professional who wants to be noticed by recruiters and headhunted by employers. It is perhaps the most important career PR marketing tool you have. Show off your capabilities, emphasise your skills and achievements, gather testimonials, gather an appropriate online network of contacts and keep in touch with them through regular activity updates or sharing useful information.

Digital networking is a great help in facilitating and reinforcing personal networking but it shouldn't replace it. Make 2014 the year when you rediscover lunch-time and use it to go out and actually talk to people rather than having the sandwich at your desk. You will hear about opportunities this way as it is often a casual remark in a conversation that turns out to be a valuable source of information.

Resources that can help
There is lots of free information available on the internet including features and articles, videos, online discussion forums etc. You can also buy books on every aspect of career management and job-searching. However if you want advice that is more specific for you, then you'll need to talk your situation and challenges over with someone. You may have a trusted friend or colleague who can help but if you feel you need specialist and impartial advice, then a career coach is your best bet as they are experts in helping individuals realise their career potential and impress prospective employers.

At last, the economic upturn seems to promise improved recruitment prospects and therefore more choice for individuals about where they choose to hang their work-hat.
Here's to a prosperous 2014!

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