WHETHER you have let your career fitness slip or never focused on it before, now is an opportune time to get in shape for your professional future.

It does not matter if you need to find a new job right away, think you may hunt for one in the future, or want to grow in the job you already have. There are appropriate steps to boost your marketability, confidence and success.

Career fitness, like physical fitness, should be a lifetime commitment, but once you have got a jumpstart, it is much easier to maintain momentum.

Here's what to do, if you have...

Only 30 days

* Define a realistic employment goal

Tell people exactly the kind of work you are looking for.

You need not limit yourself to the title of your last job but you need to be practical about the types of jobs you are qualified for.

* Develop a positioning statement

This is the key statement you will use in networking and job search conversations in response to the question, "Tell me about yourself".

Structure your statement not only around your profession and expertise but also the types of organisations and environments you have worked in and your unique strengths or selling points.

* Fine-tune your statement

Your final statement should communicate your marketability clearly to potential employers.

Keep it under one minute and practise saying it aloud until it sounds natural and unrehearsed.

* Recharge your resume

To ensure your resume gets you an interview, it should be a concise and error-free overview of your experience and capabilities.

Lead with a professional objective statement about what you want to do and a summary emphasising key information contained in the body of the resum�.

* Reach out to those you know

Touch base with everyone, including neighbours, ex-classmates and former professors from the university.

Share your employment goal and the names of companies you want to work for. Even if your contacts do not have inroads into those organisations, your list might jog their memory about similar companies or positions where they can help.

Only 90 days

* Analyse the situation

Identify the types of companies that are likely to hire someone with your expertise and experience. These may be the same, complementary or tangential industries to the one you are currently in.

Consider other opportunities at your current employer if your present job was eliminated.

* Define targeted employers

Based on your analysis, research and list all the appropriate companies so that when the time to look comes, you do not make the common mistake of pursuing wrong or too few targets.

* Expand your network

Keep in touch with your existing contacts, but use this time to expand the number of people who know you and what you are capable of.

Engage with your peers at work and attend professional association meetings. Make it a point to attend events for local non-profit organisations and at least one community meeting a month. The more people who know you, the more inroads you will have to future opportunities.

Only 180 days

* Stretch your mind

When you are not under any pressure to act, you can think creatively about what you want to do, not just what you are qualified to do.

Identify the skills and experiences you already have and those you need to develop to achieve your goal.

* Enhance your skills

Whether or not you want to make a job switch, you should always be developing your skills.

Take advantage of learning opportunities provided by your employer. Stay abreast of changes in technology and use online tutorials and built-in help menus to maximise your proficiency.

* Step up at work

You should consciously make a good impression and showcase your capabilities. Strive to meet deadlines, contribute to meetings, welcome new challenges and be a team player.

Be confident, upbeat and pay close attention to your appearance as well. Your professional image will impact your future opportunities, inside and outside the organisation.

Once your career fitness is at a healthy level, maintenance will be relatively easy. Keep attending professional association meetings. This will not only burnish relationships but also keep you posted on important trends that can impact your future.

Update your resume periodically with your recent accomplishments and you will be ready to seize opportunities that come your way.