Career Resolutions 101

At the end of the year, investors usually take stock of their portfolios, weeding out the ones that no longer fit or are underperforming. The revised portfolio, hopefully, stands the best chance of being a star performer. Careers need to be assessed, weeded out and reposition when appropriate.

From mid-December through mid-January, you were either getting ready for the Holidays and getting over them. Were you chomping at the bit to get the decorations put away so you could get to the art of work or were you ready to party on?

It may not be about money, it could be attitude. Do you love what you do?

If you answer “no” or “I’m not sure/maybe”, than this is the perfect week to do an assessment of where you are in your career and where you want to go to.

Try these steps to kick off your career moves resolutions:

1 Be prepared … dust off your resume

Most people wait until they are seriously in the job market before they do any updating. Break the traditional and make it a resolution that you will do this at least once a year. Why not January? You never know when an opportunity will come your way.

What achievements or special projects have you accomplished this past year? Did you create them? Lead? Were there reported measurements?

2 Take time to self-reflect

Do a 360 on yourself. Write down the responsibilities you’ve had the last year. List out your skills. How do you really rate in each? Low, so-so or off the scale? Do you need to fine-tune any? Are you satisfied with what you’ve done this past year? Do you like your work? Your workplace?

3 Create your own targets

What are your goals? Are you interested in management, getting credentialed in a specific area or expanding your education? Have you written them down or set any timelines in achieving them?

By writing up your goals and creating a timeframe to get where you want to get to, you’re more likely to get there sooner.

4 Determine what’s missing

Without change, you stagnate. You’ve got to keep stretching and learning. Can you do more than just turn a computer on? What new programs have your learned? What’s happening in your industry—trends, new findings, or changes?

What books have you read this past year? Do you routinely check the business best-seller lists to see what others are reading? Should you be reading some of them? Probably.

No one loses by expanding their education. Technology, language, business management, writing … you name it, it’s available at your fingertips. Many companies will foot the bill, even at the community college level. Every time you take a new course or obtain a new credential, it’s an asset for you and a plus for your resume.

5 Who do you know?

Every industry has professional associations. There are local, state, even national and international members and meetings. Email is great, but meeting others who are working in your field usually has pay-offs. Connecting is critical in the job search world—it’s “who you know.”

Involvement and networking opens up the door to industry scuttlebutt—what’s hot and not so hot? Who’s hiring and not hiring? What positions are available and what looks like a dead-end?

Sure, resumes are essential tools to have. But most doors get opened by who you know and referral. By joining and participating in industry and professional associations, you have a golden opportunity to connect with your next job. You just have to show up and be visible.

6 Get a mentor … be a mentor

Mentors are guides, coaches, teachers and tutors. They need to be good communicators and encourage you to stretch your wings. Mentors should have expertise and plenty of experience in your field. They can be within your workplace or outside of it.

Ideally, they’ve achieved both success and failure. Yes, failure. Most will agree that they greatest growth has come when they’ve stumbled.

Mentors can be someone who’s been around for some time and much further up the career ladder; they can be someone who may have been in your position just a short time ago and been promoted; or they could be what’s called a “peer” mentor—someone at your level. He or she, though, has skills in areas you don’t.

Mentors can even tell you who the company saboteurs are; protecting you from them if need be.

Then there’s the flip side. While you are reaching up, how about reaching down or out? Who’s new to the company? Any first time hires to the workplace? They would be thrilled to have someone who was in their shoes a short time ago take them under the wing.

Where your mentor could be the key to your advancement and growth, you could be in turn the key to someone else’s. Pay it forward.

When it comes to resolutions, most of us have the best of intentions. And, unfortunately, most of us get derailed. Why? Simply this: we get distracted with our routines and habits. What we were doing before is familiar and easier to slide back to.

If your goal is to open other career doors, focus on one or two goals at a time. After achieving them, add new ones. Don’t be the overachiever; moderation should be your guide.

And, after doing an assessment, you may determine you are doing exactly what you want to be doing or you have hit the wall and need to move on. Either way, you win.

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