I’ve written a lot lately about what companies can do to attract top talent, and nearly every week I discuss with executives what they can do to retain their employee base, but today I want to focus on job seekers. If you’re looking for new employment, or are always on the lookout just in case, this blog is for you.

Be purposeful about your professional growth

If there’s only one piece of advice I want candidates to remember, it’s to pay attention to their professional growth. I hear all the time that someone received a promotion or an incredible job offer because they were lucky, or in the right place at the right time. More often it’s that they set themselves up for success.

And I’m not just talking about additional certifications, specialized skills or garnering key positions in order to move up the ladder. Yes, those are important, but if you ignore the basics, you’re just as likely to get passed over as someone who doesn’t have all those extras. So whether you’re new in your career or a seasoned professional, ensure these basics are covered, just in case an amazing opportunity is right around the corner.

Voicemail. Ok, I told you these would be basic, but I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve reached out to a potential candidate and don’t even know if I’m leaving a message for the correct person. Set up your voicemail with your name mentioned, at the very least. Most human resources communication is done via email, but make it easy for people to reach you, even if it’s on the phone.

Prompt follow-up, consistent communication. If you had good parents, they probably extolled this virtue. I’ve no idea what the rules are for the dating world anymore – wait three days to text after getting a number? four? – but if a professional reaches out to you about a company or an opportunity, don’t delay in responding. If you’ve expressed initial interest in a firm or a position, there’s an expectation that you’ll follow up promptly. If you don’t, the HR folks will likely pass you by.

Updated LinkedIn profile. Again, this may seem basic, but if the last time you updated your profile was three jobs ago, shame on you. LinkedIn is the professional standard for social sites. In fact, it acts far more like a resume than any other site out there. Keep your profile up to date, your photo up to date and engage with your audience. When you write articles, or share them and include your own ideas on the content, you’re branding yourself as a thought leader. You’re seen as someone who cares about their career and their industry. Every employer wants to see that in potential employees.

Be open to feedback and coaching. My son is involved in youth sports and several of his coaches have remarked that they’ll take a coachable kid over a talented kid every time. Is feedback merely one person’s opinion? Absolutely, but if you’re asking for feedback from your current boss or getting feedback from an HR director about a recent interview, take what they say to heart. These people are usually subject matter experts and, especially in the case of hiring managers, they see a lot of candidates and can provide valuable information.

If they don’t offer their opinion, ask the questions. What holes did you see in my resume? On which interview topics did I give too much/not enough detail? Where can I do better?

Not sure where to begin? Ask your peers. They may be kinder, or perhaps not, than your supervisor or a hiring manager. As humans, we never stop growing, and understanding how to improve makes us more well-rounded.

That stellar job opportunity may come next week, next month or next year. Keeping these tips in mind ensures that in addition to the meat of your resume or depth of your experience, you’re reachable, courteous, driven and developing into the employee every company wants.

If you’re looking to hire your next team member, MRC can help connect with us.