Getting Ahead: Tips for Career Success

Getting Ahead: Tips for Career Success | Food & Nutrition Magazine | Volume 9, Issue 2

Everyone, regardless of age or career stage, wants a position with compensation commensurate to responsibilities and a sense of purpose. But when opportunity comes knocking, will you be ready?

Millennials have a reputation for being job hoppers. A 2016 Gallup poll revealed that 21 percent of millennials changed jobs in the preceding year, more than three times the number of non-millennials. However, many argue this comparison of millennials to other generations isn’t exactly apples to apples, since millennials have only reached mid-career age. In addition, the rise of digital technology and the outsourcing of domestic jobs to overseas operations have given rise to a “gig economy,” reducing the perceived value of employee loyalty and emphasizing hustle.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, younger baby boomers (born 1957 to 1964) held an average of 12.3 jobs from ages 18 to 52, with an average of 5.7 jobs between ages 18 to 24 and 4.5 jobs from ages 25 to 34. With older members of the workforce delaying retirement — preventing the next generations from advancing in seniority — some analysts predict a retention challenge for companies and organizations to keep their Gen-X workers, too.

Resume Mistakes

  1. Misrepresenting your qualifications
  2. Not relevant information
  3. Errors and inconsistency
  4. Missing skills and keywords
  5. Tasks vs. value, impact and what you made better

Polish Your Profile
Whether you’re actively looking for a job or gainfully employed with no concrete plans to move on, it’s important to keep your online professional profile optimized for opportunity. Options for maintaining your resume include LinkedIn, job boards, hosting a personal website or keeping a file on your computer to print as needed.

Don’t dust off your resume the day before you decide to look for a new job. Instead, Stacey Dunn-Emke, MS, RDN, founder of NutritionJobs and co-presenter of the Academy’s two-part Dietetic Career Hacks webinar series, suggests making it a working document that you refine regularly — even weekly or monthly — and ensure it includes keywords and phrases that accurately reflect your experience and skills.

Network Like Your Next Job Depends on It
According to LinkedIn hiring statistics, the number-one way people discover a new job is through a referral. Becoming someone who others think of when they hear about a job requires networking. “This can be really difficult if you’re an introvert like myself,” says Maree Ferguson, PhD, MBA, RD, FAND, director of Dietitian Connection and co-presenter of the Dietetic Career Hacks webinars. “I’ve had to learn some strategies over time to be successful at this,” such as tapping into your friends’ and colleagues’ networks, attending events and volunteering for your organization.

Sharpen Your Investigation Skills
Once you secure a job interview, learn everything you can about the position, the department, the business or organization and the interviewer. Review the company’s website, its annual report, media releases and social media profiles, as well as those of the interviewers, recommends Ferguson.

“Don’t forget that they’ll most likely be Googling you as well, so make sure you’re comfortable with what shows up,” she says. If you know anyone who works at the organization, reach out and see if they can give you any insight about the company culture, the position or the typical interview process. “And don’t be afraid to call the contact person,” Ferguson says. “This helps implant you in their mind. You become more than just a name on a piece of paper, and you get remembered.”

Prepare Like a Boss
There are three forms of interviews — telephone, virtual and in-person — and filling a position may require one or a combination. Be prepared: Dress professionally, be on time, turn off your phone. Bring a printed copy of your resume along with examples from your portfolio that might be helpful.

If it’s a virtual interview, test your technology (such as your computer’s microphone and camera), close all other apps and make sure you’re in a quiet room with a stable internet connection. Stage your backdrop by clearing clutter; make your environment look as professional as you do.

“Understanding the interview from the perspective of recruiters and hiring managers can help you shape your responses,” Dunn-Emke says. She adds that question content can generally be categorized as getting-to-know-you, technical skills, interpersonal qualities, transferable or foundational knowledge and assessing your understanding of the position and organization.

Most interview questions take the form of behavioral or performance-based inquiries (“Tell me about a time that X…”), so prepare responses with examples. Don’t just think about questions you might be asked and how you would answer; write out questions on flash cards and practice your responses out loud. “Avoid generic answers,” Dunn-Emke says. “Instead, give specific examples that tell your professional story.”

The Dietetic Career Hack webinar series is available on and can be accessed through The first webinar, “The Complete Networking and Resume Guide,” includes tips for expanding your network, creating your personal brand, avoiding common resume mistakes, writing a standout resume and optimizing your LinkedIn profile. The second webinar, “Interviewing Tips and Tricks,” covers actual interview preparation, such as anticipating different kinds of questions, finding your own genuine voice and handling day-of logistics.


How Millennials Want to Work and Live. Gallup website. Accessed March 17, 2020.
LinkedIn by the Numbers: Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts. Omnicore website. Updated February 10, 2020. Accessed March 17, 2020.
Number of Jobs Held in a Lifetime. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Updated January 16, 2020. Accessed March 17, 2020.
Ng E, Lyons S, Schweitzer L. Generational Career Shifts. Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing Limited; 2008.
The Ultimate List of Hiring Statistics for Hiring Managers, HR Professionals, and Recruiters. LinkedIn website. Accessed March 17, 2020.

Food & Nutrition Magazine
Food & Nutrition Magazine publishes articles on food and diet trends, highlights of nutrition research and resources, updates on public health issues and policy initiatives related to nutrition, and explorations of the cultural and social factors that shape Americans’ diets and health.