When Opportunity Knocks – Be Ready!

opportunityknocksBy Bethany Neubauer — I recently received a frantic phone call from an old college friend – we’ll call her Natasha – requesting assistance with her resume.

As it turns out, one of Natasha’s grad school professors had contacted her unexpectedly about a job opening. The professor had been impressed with Natasha’s performance in class and felt her skill-set was a great match for the teaching role.

Natasha became overwhelmed with excitement as she reviewed the posting. The only problem was the application deadline was five days away and my dear friend had not updated her job search materials since completing her undergraduate degree eight years ago. She considered not applying due to the deadline, but decided to give it a whirl and fortunately, thanks to feedback from friends and willing references, Natasha was able to pull together her application just before the deadline.  Needless to say, it was stressful week as my friend raced against the clock to pull things together.

As students, we are quite vigilant about maintaining our resumes and obtaining letters of references; but, after we land a job it is all too easy to lose sight of these things.

Yet, we just never know when opportunity will come a knockin’. Be ready when it does!

Here are some suggestions on how to do just that.

Resolve to update your resume at least annually.    By keeping your resume current, you won’t be forced to recollect years of accomplishments.  Personally, I like to do mine around performance evaluation time because it helps me prepare to meet with my supervisor.  The process helps reveal areas where I lack experience and then I can ask for opportunities to gain it.  Ask yourself – What have I achieved in the last year?  What new duties have I taken on? What projects have I taken on?  What opportunities do I need to continue to develop or refine skills that will move me in the direction of my professional goals?

Keep in touch with your professional references.  If you don’t interact with these individuals on a regular basis be sure to check in with these folks a few times a year.  Learn about what they’ve been up to professionally and let them know what you’ve been doing.   

For those in the teaching professions, consider requesting new letters of recommendation as you grow and develop in your role before you need them so you can nimbly respond to opportunities as they arise. 

Enlist a second set of eyes. We are often blind to our own accomplishments and strengths.  Inviting the feedback of someone who works with you can help provide additional perspective.  Marquette students and alumni can also schedule an appointment in Marquette’s Career Services Center at (414)288-7423 for a review of resumes and cover letters.

2 Responses to “When Opportunity Knocks – Be Ready!”

  1. 1 Patrick McFadden February 25, 2013 at 11:00 am

    “The secret of success is to be ready when your opportunity comes.” – Benjamin Disraeli


  2. 2 Laura Anderson February 26, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Great ideas and great article!


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