How to Stay Current in Your Career Well after College

Even after you've graduated and landed your dream job, your work isn't done. Many things can happen along the way on your career path. Your company may go out of business, downsize, or your job skills could begin to become obsolete. Not to mention, at some point you're likely to pursue a promotion, change jobs, or even jump onto a different job track.

Due to the many variables potentially affecting your job status, it's a smart strategy to plan to stay current in your career long after you've graduated from college. Here are a few good ways you can do this on a consistent basis, so you're always prepared for whatever changes come your way.

1. Attend networking events

The importance of staying active with networking can't be understated. Even if you're not job-hunting, you can learn a lot about what's going on in your industry by staying active. Aside from building a strong professional reputation, you gain the opportunity to establish and nurture long-term relationships with other people.

  •  Consistently learn what other professionals do to stay up-to-date.
  •  Discover any industry changes coming down the pike.
  •  Find out about any growth opportunities.
  •  Learn about free or low-cost workshops to attend.

The stronger your network, the better you can position yourself to stay up-to-date with the latest in your industry or niche profession.

2. Identify in-demand industry skills

To avoid becoming obsolete, it's incredibly important to keep up on industry changes so you can evolve along with them. You can do this by identifying the most in-demand current and/or evolving job skills.

  •  Explore job titles, and examine the criteria employers are looking for in similar jobs to yours.
  •  Look to discover any soft skills employers actively seek—you can find lists suggesting which ones professionals should possess every year. 
  • Peruse employment projections for the next decade.

Once you've identified what employers want or what your industry will need, compile a list of any findings you uncover and measure up to see where you stand.

3. Read, follow, and read!

One of the best ways to keep updated is to follow industry news and leaders and stay informed about the latest news and trends. It's a great way to pinpoint what you'll need to stay focused on in your own career.

  • Subscribe to news outlets and blogs relating to your industry or professional interests.
  • Follow and/or connect with thought leaders and influencers on social media.
  • Read professional journals—jump ahead of the game to learn about what's evolving, developing, or being released.

Making a consistent effort to follow the latest events in your industry, or even in general, will go a long way to help you stay current. Not to mention, gleaning new information on a regular basis gives you a way to grow professionally with little effort.

4. Pursue certification or professional development courses

Certifications or professional development courses are always a good method to position yourself in an industry or to increase your earning potential. Options include:

  • Look for industry certifications, including but not limited to PMP, CSCP, CBAP, CAPM, SHRM, PHR, or any number of IT certifications, to name a few.
  • Explore the offerings at your local community colleges for non-credit professional development courses—most offer numerous options in almost any given industry.
  • Pursue free online courses-options include offerings by LinkedIn, Google, Salesforce, and HubSpot.

Ask your employer what opportunities they offer for professional development—you might be surprised at what you'll find.

Steadily growing your own knowledge is always a plus, no matter what career track you're on. If you make an effort to consistently boost the appeal of your resume, you can't go wrong.

Bottom line, your goal should be to continuously enhance your hire ability. You never know what tomorrow might bring—be it a sudden shock or an awesome opportunity. Be the candidate employers are seeking. If you can accomplish this, you'll find it far easier to keep a job or land a new position, even if economic or professional circumstances unexpectedly change.

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