Improve Your Job Prospects With These 5 Simple Career Moves

employee leaving job

The labor market has been tight for years, but it’s not clear how much longer that will be the case. According to recent data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the labor pool has increased by nearly 2.5 million workers since 2022 as the gap between labor demand and supply has shrunk by nearly 3 million.

In other words, while it’s still a good time to be in the job market, job seekers have it a bit tougher than they did 12 to 24 months ago. They need to work harder to separate themselves from their peers and land opportunities commensurate with their skills and experience.

If you’re currently looking for a new role or plan to be soon, you can do these five things to position yourself now.

1. Earn a Formal Board Director Certification

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a senior leader to sit on a corporate or nonprofit board. Increasingly, organizations of all sizes are seeking a broad range of perspectives and viewpoints, including from younger and less experienced professionals. Diversity of opinion and thought is more important than years of experience, these days.

Because adding a directorship is an excellent way to strengthen your CV, it’s a goal worth pursuing. Increase your chances of landing such a position by obtaining a formal board director credential, such as a NACD Director Certification. This release celebrating Nygina Mills’ NACD certification explains the credential’s benefits and process for earning it.

2. Level Up Your Core Credentials

Don’t neglect your core credentials as you work to diversify your professional experience. Even if your employer or guild has no official continuing education requirement, make a point to complete a reasonable number of hours each year — perhaps 20 to 30, depending on your schedule. Be sure to use a certified CE provider and note each new credential on your CV or LinkedIn page.

3. Participate in an Internal Working Group

“Volunteering for more responsibility” in the workplace doesn’t necessarily mean taking on one too many projects. It could mean joining or leading an internal work group or interest group that’s tangential to what you spend most of your time doing but important for the overall health or strength of the organization. In larger organizations, these groups are plentiful, so look for one that aligns with your professional or personal strengths or interests.

4. Find an Internal or External Sponsor

One of the best career moves you can make early on is to find a sponsor or mentor within your organization or profession. This person should be senior to you, or at least more experienced, but outside your reporting chain. Use them as a teacher, sounding board, and career coach.

5. Become a Mentor to Less Experienced Colleagues (Formally or Informally)

If you benefited from a mentor or sponsor as a younger professional, the time to pay it forward will come soon enough. Being a mentor can be even more rewarding than being a mentee, and the reputation you develop in the process could help you climb the final few rungs of the leadership ladder.

Here’s to Standing Out From the Crowd

Each of these five strategies will help you stand out from fellow job-seekers and put your best foot forward as you seek your next professional opportunity.

If the thought of pursuing all five in parallel feels daunting, choose the one or two you believe are most relevant to your current skill set, career phase, and anticipated career track. You can always continue down the list as you’re able or as it’s necessary. And remember: You don’t have to wait for your next job search to strengthen your CV.