3 Effective Ways to Build A Career When You Have “Zero Time”

By Dana Leavy-Detrick Whether you’re happy at your job or on the hunt for a new gig, you need be ready to make a move – at any time, all of the time. It’s one of the ways you can truly take care of yourself. Here’s why and how. Entrepreneurs and business owners often talk about the difference between working ON their business and working IN their business. It may seem like it’s only a change of one letter, but in fact it’s an entirely different practice. The latter refers to the day-to-day, nitty-gritty work that keeps the business running – completing client projects, working on billable hours – while the former refers to the work to maintain and grow the business – updating the business plan, organizing data, investing in new software, etc. It’s the careful balance of the two that keeps an organization thriving and growing. The same idea applies when it comes to building your career. Chances are you know what it means to be involved in the everyday routine of working IN your career - showing up, doing quality work, and prioritizing your projects to meet the needs of your organization and your customers. But how often are do you grant yourself the necessary time, energy, and space to work ON your career - to focus on future planning, your growth strategy, building new skills, and the occasional reevaluation of your goals and whether you’re on track to realize them? When it comes to your career, you’ve got to keep up the momentum, in spite of the fact that allocating enough time to take advantage of new opportunities or carry out a successful, dedicated job search or career transition is a challenge. If you find yourself with a to-do list that overwhelms and limited time to devote to the process, here are three effective and efficient ways you can take action. Always Be Networking As your career evolves, so will your network. This is something you should be consistently nurturing and growing. To do so, you need to be ready to engage new (or former) contacts in conversation when the opportunity arises. This means being able to speak confidently about what you’re currently doing, as well as where you’re looking to go next. Did you know that “in-network” referrals are responsible for a significant percentage of passive job opportunities? These are the ones that can (and will) present themselves when you least expect it. Many busy professionals make the mistake on not continually refining their pitch, potentially missing an chance to seek valuable guidance or help. Know what you’re looking for and take advantage of networking opportunities, by not only offering to help others, but by being clear on how they can help you. Approximate Time Investment: 30 Minutes to Create and Practice Your Pitch Get Your Portfolio in Order I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received an email from a candidate who has put off the process of updating their resume for months only to have the perfect job lead land in their lap. Now, they’re in need of a revised resume – yesterday – because they can’t move forward submitting their application with one that hasn’t been updated in two or three years. Not only does this mean a potential missed opportunity, but it puts your competition at an advantage to make an immediate impact, while you scramble to update your resume, LinkedIn profile, and bio. Do the leg work now – even if you’re not actively looking, make sure that your LinkedIn profile, your resume, and your cover letter and other digital materials are up to date and ready to go. And revisit this process every three to four months. Approximate Time Investment: 3 hours to update your resume and have a colleague or friend proofread it Do Your Research Make a commitment to set aside 15 minutes once or twice a week to research interesting companies, setup a Google Alert, and keep a running list of any new prospects that you come upon for those organizations. Keep tabs on their website postings, updates to their LinkedIn company page, and follow their social media profiles. You can setup a Google Alert to notify you of worthwhile job listings based on selected keywords, so that the minute one goes live, you’ll receive an email to your inbox or phone. Approximate Time Investment: 1-2 hours per month Fear not! You can make progress even with the most limited of resources – meaning time. Proactive career management does not have to equal stress - in fact, the right kind of preparation can not only save you time in the long run, but reduces anxiety, knowing that you’re prepared, at any time, for that perfect opportunity, important conversation, or a chance meeting to turn into your next great career move. You’ll have one aspect of self-care taken care of. Dana Leavy-Detrick is an experienced resume writer, personal brand strategist, and the founder of Brooklyn Resume Studio and Los Angeles Resume Studio. She has helped thousands of professionals in industries like advertising, marketing, non-profit, finance, education, and technology to build fulfilling careers and stand out in the most competitive job markets. Her career and small business advice has been featured in Forbes, The New York Post, Newsday, Refinery29, and About.com.