7 Career Resolutions
Each year, shedding a few pounds ranks atop many people's list of New Year's resolutions, yet by February many of us have fallen off the wagon and are scarfing down pizza and bon bons at every chance.
Don't let your career resolutions fizzle with the use of your gym membership. Instead of setting unrealistic, short-lived resolutions, try to set a few goals you can stick with throughout the year. We spoke with Katy Piotrowski, author of The Career Coward's Guide to Career Advancement, to get some tips on how to make sure your career changes for the better this year.
1. Update Your Resume
Even if you're comfortable in your current position, you should always have an up-to-date resume in case an intriguing opportunity presents itself.
TIP: Try to come up with 10 professional accomplishments from 2009 (such as, earning your CPA, advancing from junior to senior account executive, or learning to use Adobe Photoshop). Then work these accomplishments into your resume while weeding out the dated information.
Networking is consistently cited as the number one way to land a job. In fact, according to OpportunityNetwork.org, 60 percent of new hires land unadvertised positions passed on through word of mouth.
TIP: Start small. Piotrowski says if you're not used to networking, slowly build it into your routine. For example: In January, create a LinkedIn profile and start making connections. In February, attend a professional association meeting. In March, set up an informational interview with someone who has your dream job.
3. Obtain Work/Life Balance
Skipping happy hour and burning the midnight oil every night can make you resent your job. By striving for a more balanced schedule, you'll be happier, healthier, and avoid career burnout.
TIP: If you need to put in 10+ hours a day in 2009, ask your boss if it's possible for you to work some flextime in the new year, like 7 a.m. until 5 p.m., instead of 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. "It's a matter of thinking about what you want and having the courage to ask for it," says Piotrowski.
4. Help Out Your Coworkers
You don't need to be best buds with your cubicle mates, but offering to help them with assignments may lighten their load and earn you an unexpected ally.
TIP: By helping others you can get a feel for what it's like to work in other areas of the company or in a different role. Say you're in sales but thinking of switching to marketing: You might want to offer your expertise for a marketing project. They'll appreciate your help, and you'll learn more about the department. Win-win.
5. Find A Mentor
By building a relationship with someone who has succeeded in your industry, you can learn from their experiences, and have a regular forum in which to air questions and gain wisdom.
TIP: Your mentor should be someone you admire and trust in your existing network, whether from your alma mater, a professional association, or a current or past employer. Women and minorities might find it helpful to seek out a mentor with a similar background, so they can identify with their struggles and successes.
6. Earn A Raise or Promotion
Earning more money and recognition is a popular annual goal for many workers.
TIP: Get in the habit of asking for a raise during your scheduled evaluations this year. "So what if they say no, at least they'll start thinking how to work it in the budget down the line," says Piotrowski. And don't just ask for more dough-explain why you deserve it, such as how an account doubled this year because of your customer service skills.
7. Learn A New Skill
Taking a class, attending a workshop, or getting a friend to teach you a new skill makes you more marketable as a job candidate.
TIP: Whatever skill you decide to learn, it should correlate with your long-term goals. Sit down for a few hours and plot out what your career path might be, and the skills you can learn in 2010 to get there. For example, if you'd like to earn a management role but need better public speaking skills, join Toastmasters.