Five Strategies to Become a More Attractive Employee by JoAnn Nix

Professional Development is an essential part of our career. Mention the phrase to a colleague and their mind conjures images of attending an educational training program. However, professional development reaches far beyond traditional classroom training.

As a Resume Writer and Career Coach, I frequently ask my clients the following questions: "What have you done to improve yourself in the last year? Are you adapting to new changes, are you keeping up with your industry, trends, technology, and other vital components to your career?"

If you feel you have veered off the professional development path, perhaps now is an ideal time to get back on track. After all, professional development is a catalyst in becoming a more attractive job candidate. Moreover, it can help you land an internal promotion or a deserved salary increase, and can position you to become more valued to teams, projects, and your employer. Of equal importance, it can help you be an employee the company simply live without and can't afford to downsize. The benefits of investing dollars, sweat equity, and time in professional development are rewarding.

Here are a few examples of professional development initiatives:

1. Technology. Despite the fact nearly every professional uses e-mail as a primary communication tool, many have no experience downloading or uploading documents via e-mail. Therefore it is essential to master these simple tasks. After all, you don't want to get a new job and be unable to handle these tasks! Learn how to use e-mail effectively, it's critical. Simply ask someone to teach you the nuances of your e-mail program. In an hour, you can become proficient in e-mail functions.

2. Software. If you don't know how to navigate through your computer's hard drive, find files, or perform routine maintenance functions, you should. If you're not a user of Microsoft Word, you need to be. Word is the software of choice for nearly every company. On the same token, you wouldn't want to land a new job and not be able to use popular software.

Ask someone to teach you, take a course, read a book, or buy a training CD. There are many people returning to work after a long sabbatical who are not familiar with Microsoft Office, and it's essential in today's business world. Don't let lack of software knowledge stop you from getting the job you want.

I challenge you to become a proficient user of MS Excel, PowerPoint, and Access. The more you know, the more value you offer. Mastering PowerPoint can make you a valued member of projects teams. Become recognized as a "guru" or "master" of some technology application so you will be valued, needed, and known throughout your office.

3. Foreign languages. Perhaps you're a professional who travels globally but you haven't learned a new language. Well, maybe it's time! You will become a more valued employee if you can master a new language. It will impress prospective employers and clients, help you climb the career ladder, or lead to a promotion or a committee or team appointment.

In our multi-cultured world, you may know someone who can teach you new language skills. Hire them. Buying CDs is another way to become proficient - pop them in your CD player on your way to and from work and use this time for educational purposes.

Another way to improve your value is to learn the nuances of international business cultures. There are consultants who teach executives about international business cultures. Search the Internet to find a consultant who specializes in this business issue.

4. Networking. Do you procrastinate about joining a networking group? There is no tool that is going to help you land interviews better than networking. It is the best thing you will ever do for your career. Networking is the bridge to establishing life-long business relationships, and I don't need to tell you the benefits of long-term relationships.

Moreover, it's a way to help you identify the right schools for your children, locate the perfect home, choose a new physician, etc. Consider investigating a few professional organizations ... join, participate, get involved with committees, and watch your career blossom.

5. Certifications. Have you been tossing around the idea of getting a certification? If so, why not "just do it"? Will it make you more attractive to prospective employers or to your current employer? Absolutely! Don't delay… get started on the process now. Consider asking your manager if the company will reimburse you or pay for the certification. Ambitious professionals continually seek knowledge and certifications.

Employers are more interested in hiring ambitious people who have a thirst for knowledge, take advantage of professional development opportunities, and continually grow. Hiring managers are smart enough to know a job seeker's professional development is critical to the success of their own company. I challenge you to examine your career today, create an action plan, and take the first step in improving your career. The rewards will be abundant.

JoAnn Nix is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and Career Coach with nearly 12 years of experience. She has written over 8,000 professional resumes in her career. To learn more, visit her website at [ parked domain].

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