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4 Powerful Career Advancement Tips

If you’re looking to get ahead, here are a few ways you can increase your value to employers



By Greg Scott Neuman
Posted 2012

Career Advancement Tips
Career Advancement Tips

Whether you’re a recent graduate entering the workforce or an experienced professional looking to boost your earning power, there are a number of career advancement options at your disposal. The time and effort required can vary greatly, from free social media profiles to online degree programs that carry significant cost. Which are best for you?

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Here are four of the best ways to increase your value to employers:

1. Education. Where professionals are concerned, there are two types of education: degrees and certificates. Both require an investment of time and resources, but both can enhance your resume.

There are on-campus and online degree programs available. Online courses of study are often more convenient if you have work or family responsibilities, and they have become so popular that thousands of accredited schools now offer them. Associate’s degrees take about two years of full-time study to earn, bachelor’s degrees about four. A master’s degree requires about two years of post-baccalaureate work, while a doctorate can take anywhere from three to ten. When considering cost, remember in-state and public university tuition is far less expensive than out-of-state and private university tuition.

Certificates are designed to provide you a specific set of career-enhancing knowledge and skills. For example, a marketing manager who wants to better understand online advertising can enroll in an Internet marketing certificate program. Such programs generally take six months to one year to complete and are often available online.

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2. Professional organizations. Many occupations have an association for individuals engaged and/or interested in its practice. These are often called professional organizations. They are typically nonprofits, but most have dues or some other cost associated with membership.

Some professional organizations act as social bodies that facilitate networking among their members. Others have official functions, such as regulating certification standards for the field. Adhering to rules established by such bodies may be mandatory for those who want to practice the profession, though membership is seldom required.

Joining a professional organization is a great way to exchange information, ideas and opportunities with your peers. It also shows employers you are an active, interested member of your profession.

3. Mentors. A mentor is someone who offers guidance for critical career decisions. They can be a college professor, experienced coworker or even a paid career counselor. Mentors can provide industry contacts, help find job leads, offer advice and more.

Having a mentor is generally more important when you’re new to a field, as most of what they do is geared toward helping you establish yourself professionally. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that only young people have mentors; if you change careers at any age, finding a mentor can be of immense help.

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4. Social media. Ten years ago, it barely existed. Now most professionals have some social media presence, whether it’s a LinkedIn profile, Twitter account or Facebook timeline. Some have all that and more. Social media for professionals is primarily about networking; your profile provides a place for potential employers, new clients and other business contacts to learn about and communicate with you. Best of all, they are generally free.

A word of warning about social media: Be careful regarding the information you provide about yourself. Personal data like your address, phone number and email should never be publicly available; either don’t share it at all, or share it only with those you know well enough to trust. Also remember that photos and stories that make you appear irresponsible, immature or reckless have no place on a professional social media profile.

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