Taking these steps now can mean great success later.

Sometimes, you have to give a little to get a lot. This is true for many situations in life, but it's especially true in your career, whether you're currently employed or searching for a job.

Every day you build up elements of your career that make you a stronger professional — you gain experience, learn new skills, and build relationships. However, that's the situation for every professional. When it's time to search for a new role, you may find yourself wishing you'd gone the extra mile. After all, if you want to land a job, you're going to need to stand out.

That is why it's important to invest in your career. By putting the time and energy in now, you'll prepare yourself for a stronger, more successful candidacy later. If you're ready to get a step ahead, here are some ways you can make it happen.

Actively build your skill set

There's no doubt that you're developing and honing skills while on the job. That doesn't mean you have to stop there, though.

Actively building your skill set is one of the best ways you can propel your career forward. You'll be more valuable to your current workplace by being able to present new, unique solutions. Then, when job searching, you'll be a more attractive candidate because you'll have more to offer a potential employer.

Luckily, there's no shortage of resources that can help you build your skills. Check out our article that lays out some of the best online tools available.

Keep networking

Some sources show that up to 85 percent of all jobs are filled through networking. Needless to say, that's a lot. Also needless to say, if you're neglecting this important career move, you're missing out on opportunities.

At its core, networking is about building relationships. However, it is also an area where quantity is as important as quality. Having a handful of close colleagues is nothing to scoff at, but knowing professionals in multiple companies at different job levels will be what helps you land a role when it's time.

So, how do you build your network? Start with getting active on LinkedIn. Engage with other professionals in your field through groups and by commenting on posts. Don't be afraid to send cold connection requests, either — just be sure to add a note introducing yourself and offering a brief reason for why you'd like to connect. And of course, there are still old-fashioned networking events where you can meet professionals face to face and start up a conversation about your industry.

Once you've built up a large network, job searching will become significantly easier. You can reach out to your connections for informational interviews, for instance. Or, to be even more straightforward, you can ask them to inform you about any openings that may be a fit for you. They may even be willing to give you a reference.

Establish your online presence

Imagine that you've just returned from a networking event. You met someone there who could be game-changing for your career. They want to know more about you, so when they return home, they do a quick Google search of your name … and see nothing.

In this digital age, having a presence online is no longer optional. You need to ensure that when someone looks you up (and they will), the results are a number of sites that show you off in a positive, professional light. That means carefully curating what goes online about you.

Start by building up a thorough LinkedIn profile, complete with job details, links to your work, and a unique summary. To go a step further, many professionals benefit from personal websites that showcase their personal brands. And of course, scrub your personal social media profiles of anything that could give the wrong impression (or at least update your privacy settings).

Having an active presence online will mean that any time someone wants to know more about you, they only find the impressive details you want them to see. These actions now will come in handy when an employer goes Googling your name before your interview.

Get a professionally written resume

Writing a resume has only become more complicated with the introduction of the applicant tracking system, new standards, and the uncertainty about what truly constitutes a “professional” appearance. Still, your resume is your most important job-search tool; the quality of this document can make or break your job search, so it's essential that it's at its best.

Because of that, why would you want to take a chance? There are experts who are trained in writing resumes that are proven to help professionals not only land a job faster, but also earn more. Working with a professional resume writer is the ultimate investment in your career, setting you up for a more successful job search and more money in your pocket in the long run.

TopResume has a large network of trained writers who are ready and waiting to bring you to the next step in your career. Click here to learn what it's like to work with a TopResume writer, and click here to learn more about our services.

The importance of investing in your career

It's clear that putting in some work now can improve your prospects later. Resting on your laurels may work fine in the short term, but when you need to stand out, going the extra mile will only help you.

As you go through your career, consider these four actions that can make all the difference. You'll become a valuable employee and an even stronger job candidate when your next job search comes around.

Ready to invest in a professionally written resume? Click here for more information.

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