This article was originally featured on OnlineDegrees.com.
Labor Day weekend doesn't just mean the end of white pants and the beginning of the NFL season. The holiday began in 1882 as a celebration of the economic achievements of the American worker. This year, you can use the long weekend to invest in some economic achievements of your own. Here are ten bits of expert advice for using the holiday to improve your career prospects.
1. Know your strengths
"We each have a unique set of core character strengths that make us valuable and indispensable," says career coach Carin Rockind. Rockind recommends individuals spend some time thinking about what sets them apart, and how they can use those strengths on the job. Rockind suggests the free VIA Survey of Character Strengths from the University of Pennsylvania.
"When we know our core strengths, we can better sell ourselves in an interview, and when we use our core strengths, we can be better noticed on the job," says Rockind.
2. Get up-to-date
Life Transition Coach Maureen Daniek recommends individuals boost their career potential with research. "Keep up with the latest research, the latest techniques and the newest products," advises Daniek. This may include reading industry or scholarly journals and searching out product and customer reviews.
3. Hit the app store
Taking the weekend to get organized with new technology and gadgets could help you spend less time in the long run. Applications for tablets, e-readers and mobile phones allow personalized delivery of industry news from websites, and career networking websites like LinkedIn offer apps to help you stay informed about industry news and trends as well.
4. Pick up a good book
"Three day weekends are an ideal time to read through a book on leadership," says Roberta Chinsky Matuson, president of Human Resource Solutions in Northamptom, Mass. Matuson recommends "What Got You Here Won't Get You There," by Marshall Goldsmith. You can also ask a trusted advisor or mentor for other reading recommendations.
"Come Tuesday, you should be ready to implement a few ideas that will bring you one step forward in your career," says Matuson.
5. Update that resume
Do your resume and LinkedIn profile showcase what's special about you? According to career adviser Denise Felder, owner of DeniseMpls Consulting Services in Minneapolis, Minn., these key job documents should "highlight your skills and unique value, not just rehash your past job descriptions."
"Make sure both reflect your personal brand," says Felder.
6. Thank your networking contacts
Pick three to five people to tell how much you've appreciated their support this year--but don't shoot off an email.
"Mail a real, personalized hand-written thank you note," advises Felder. "Tell them you appreciate their advice and job leads, whether they led to an interview or not. And remind them that they can count on you if they ever need resources or encouragement."
7. Pat yourself on the back
Annual holidays are a great time to take stock of your progress. Felder recommends writing down five reasons why you're proud of yourself and another five things for which you're thankful.
"Take the time to look at all you've accomplished in the past few months. Whether you are happy with your current situation or not, there were some bright spots," Felder notes. "Recognize what is going well and build on those positives."
8. Look for training
"Identify a certification and training program that requires a chunk of undivided time that will enhance your attractiveness professionally," recommends executive coach Roy Cohen. Though a three-day holiday weekend may not be enough time to complete a training program, you can use it to research new skills that may benefit your career and to request information from programs that offer those skills.
9. Prep for a chat with your boss
Career coach Dorothy Tannahill Moran suggests employees share their goals with the boss. "You can usually enlist the aid of your boss with your career aspirations, so sit down with them and detail out your career direction."
Set aside some time over the weekend to prep for that chat. "Be prepared to make requests or suggestions about specific tasks or assignments you think you could do that will help move you in that direction," says Moran, "Don't make the boss do all the heavy lifting."
10. Find a volunteer gig
Before changing careers or fields, executive coach Kathi Elster recommends carefully choosing a volunteer opportunity.
"Volunteer or work for free for three to seven days in this new field of interest so that you can gain insight as well as begin to build your new resume," advises Elster, who points out you're also making networking contacts in a new field. If volunteering over the holiday weekend isn't practical, you can spend the time researching local organizations, narrowing down possibilities and firing off inquiry emails.
So this Labor Day weekend, raise your glass to the American worker--and raise the bar on your own career.
More tips and advice from The Degree360:
- Degrees to dollars: The 10 highest-paying degrees
- Crash course: 5 ways to bring your job skills up-to-date
- Mothers to mortarboards: Research shows parents' education boosts kids, too
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