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How to advance your career in 2021

Let’s try to hit the ground running next year and leave at least some of the difficulties of 2020 behind. Here’s how to advance your career in 2021.

As we head into a new year, most people are hoping 2021 will be better than 2020.

Many have lost jobs this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and are looking into uncertain futures in industries that may never be the same. What can you do to get ahead? Just keep swimming, as Dory from “Finding Nemo” would say.

We may have to make some changes to the way we approach the job search and our careers. Here are five tips for getting ahead with your career in 2021.

Get personal and leverage your network.

If you want to get attention, it helps to up your game by reaching out directly to hiring managers and connections. If you want to work for a particular company or are interested in a specific job, connect with the manager of the department on LinkedIn and introduce yourself. Don’t be shocked if you don’t get a response. A lot of people won’t bother writing back, but some will. And then you have a connection at the company and maybe even with the person directly responsible for hiring.

Ask your friends for help finding work and always offer assistance where you can. Being helpful to others can prompt them to help you. It won’t always work that way but it’s worth a shot. Worst case scenario: you helped someone else and got nothing in return. At least you helped someone.

Upskill

We’ve been thrown some curveballs this year and now we need to adapt to meet the challenge. The need for more skills was already arising thanks for the fast changes brought by technology, and now that need has increased. A recent survey found that 7 in 10 employers intend to hire workers with broader skill sets in the future and that “all employers agreed there that there was a greater need for employees able to take on hybrid roles.” Yes, it looks like employers are trying to get more employees for the price of one, which they probably are. But this is, to a degree, out of necessity, as budgets have been slashed and many companies are just trying to stay afloat during a pandemic that has destroyed many businesses.

If we want to keep working in the future, we’re going to have to meet employer needs by expanding our skillsets.

Keep up with social media

Social media is one of the easiest ways to elevate your profile and it’s free (unless you’re paying for LinkedIn Premium or similar, which is also useful). Use social media to share your knowledge and insight, show how well you know your industry, and make employers want to hire you.

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter are all platforms through which you can do this. Share articles you write and share curated content, make new connections, be helpful, be smart, and be noticeable. Don’t leave pages without updates. Don’t post questionable content, content that is in poor taste, or anything that might cause an employer to not want to hire you. Put your best foot forward. Put work into it.

Explore new options

Competition is going to be fierce in some industries for a long time, and others will never be the same. You might have to look beyond that you’re used to and consider a career change or an expansion of possibilities. Now that we’re all adding to our skillsets, what else can you do for a job or career? Take stock of your transferable skills and ask where they can be applied and how. Talk to people in careers that are similar to but different from yours about what they do.

Job security feels like a thing of the past and we’re all reeling right now. You’re going to have to do something. What is that?

Showcase your soft skills

Hard skills matter in all industries, but soft skills are what will keep you moving ahead. Communication skills are more important than ever now that we’re all working remotely. Creativity, problem solving, adaptability, flexibility, and time management have never been more important, and employers are going to be looking hard for these skills and others.

Take every opportunity possible to showcase these skills in your social media posts, in your communications, and in your job application materials.

A lot of us are going to have to keep working harder to make it through. Let’s look at 2021 as a year of new possibilities.

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