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3 Smart Ways to Build Your Career Capital

Everyone’s journey along the career continuum involves stops along the way.  Making the most of those stops—be they jobs, job searches, or even career shifts—builds career capital. So what is career capital?

Think of it as financial capital—an account of sorts, one that you deposit into over time by making smart career moves that will add to, rather than deplete, your professional value.

And with today’s job market evolving faster than I can type this sentence, building your career capital is more important than ever.

How to Build Career Capital on the Job and During Your Job Search

Consider this scenario: You just received your masters. Great news! Bad news is the job market in the industry in which you’ve studied has dried up. What to do? Get a job, any job? No.

That’s when you need to let the idea of career capital guide your decisions. Below are three ways you can build career capital – whether you’re looking at job opportunities or opportunities to get that job.

1. Analyze – Don’t just jump at a job opportunity. Examine it. What will you learn from this job? Will the people you work with help you “up your game”? Can you learn from them? Find out who will you will be collaborating with or if there are opportunities to lead a team. Both collaboration and leadership are valuable career capital builders.

2. Assess & Synthesize – The skills you learn at a job should propel you forward. Is there something you can learn at this job that will help you in your desired career or simply help you build the necessary skills for today’s workplace. Ask what applications you’ll be using or trained to use.  Make the most of these new skills and become an expert in them.

3. Socialize – No, I don’t mean happy hour after work, I mean networking. This applies whether you’re on the job or on the hunt for a job. Here are just a few examples:

Attend conferences – Check out what conferences professionals in the field of your choice attend. If you can’t afford to pay to attend, find out if they need volunteers and if you can attend some of the seminars while there. Introduce yourself to conference participants. Attending conferences keeps you up to date on the trends and vocabulary of you chosen field.

Join professional groups – Search LinkedIn for online forums and groups. See if there are any professional organizations in your city that relate to the field you’re interested in. And join! And, again, introduce yourself to people. The very fact that these people are in this group is because they are active in their profession – this can only help you.

Make a business card – Yes the world is going digital but a professionally printed card goes a long way. You can make your own card with Vista.com very affordably. And hey, if you know the field you’re interested in, put your name, the URLyou’re your LinkedIn profile, and contact info (including a link to your LinkedIn profile) on the front and put the line “pursuing a job in the (fill in the blank) industry” on back.

Contact your alumi association – Join their group on LinkedIn, see if they can put you in touch with other alums willing to give informational interviews,  and find out if there are alum events in your town that you can attend.

These tips are just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of ways to build career capital and I’ll cover those in future posts. In the meantime, stay tuned for a post on maximizing informational interviews.


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