Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Creating Your Own Luck: 12 Steps for Advancing Your Career

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With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, many job seekers are hoping the luck of the Irish will rub off on their careers. However, career professionals say unemployed workers can stop searching for four-leaf clovers and planting money trees and create their own luck. After all, luck is the intersection of preparation and preparation.

“Luck knocks on your door every day, and it’s a question of whether you’re ready to answer it,” says Alex Douzet, COO and co-founder of job search site TheLadders.com. “People that focus on succeeding seem to be more aware of their environment. They figure out a way to leverage the opportunities that come their way.”

In a recent LinkedIn survey, the U.S. was ranked the seventh luckiest country in the world behind Japan, South Korea, Austria, Germany, France and Switzerland. Of the survey respondents, 49% of professionals felt luckier than their peers. They attributed their luck to having strong communication skills, being flexible, acting on opportunities, compiling a strong network, and, most importantly, having a strong work ethic.

“The person who’s lucky is able to take an opportunity to the next level,” says Nicole Williams, connection director at LinkedIn. “Real luck happens when you’re prepared to take advantage of an opportunity.”

Improving labor market conditions have knocked the unemployment rate to 8.3% last month, making job seekers feel luckier about their prospects. “It’s very self-determined and a self-fulfilling prophecy. People weren’t feeling lucky a few years ago, but they are now and this influx of luck is going to turn the job market,” she adds.

So here are expert tips for employees on how to make their luck and take their career to the next level.

Have a strong work ethic. The harder you work, the luckier you become. “Do the best job to get yourself noticed, even if it’s not your career choice,” says Williams. “Be excellent, get a reputation for excellence, and luck is going to find you.”

Be passionate. “Don’t follow the money, follow the passion,” Douzet says. “If you follow the passion, the money will follow you.” Being passionate about what you do will make you want to do a better job and bring more advancement. “Success isn’t measured by a six-figure check but how you compare to your peers, your community, and your industry. Ask yourself, ‘what makes me happy and what am I passionate about?’”

Develop a career plan. Evaluate your career path and what you want to accomplish. “It’s important to have goals and to marry those goals with time periods,” says Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, chief career writer and partner at Career Trend. “You can continually adjust your plan, but, once you have one, you’ll start to believe that you’re there and people will really believe in you.”

Have a good attitude. “Luck is all attitude,” says Williams. Having a positive and genuine demeanor and being optimistic at your job goes far.

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