By Martin Yate, CPC
“I will get back to work”; “I will get a better job”; “I will get a promotion”: we all make New Year’s career resolutions to do better professionally and then promptly forget to harness these goals to activities that will get us there. Here are seven resolutions that can change the rest of your life.
#1. I will survive and prosper
Make 2013 the year you replace blind loyalty to the corporation with enlightened self-interest. Yes, you will work hard and long for your employer, but never again will it be at the expense of what is best for your life. Make a commitment to invest in learning the job search and career management strategies that will give you greater control of your professional and financial destiny.
#2. I will build on firm foundations
As a professional, you are a bundle of skills and capabilities, and when you sell this bundle you are a selling a product or a commodity. Commit to the creation of killer marketing materials.
Your resume is the most financially important document you will ever own: when your resume works, you work; when it doesn’t, you don’t. It’s the primary marketing device that introduces you to the professional world and your customer base. Properly executed, it ensures that prospective employers and future colleagues see you as you want to be seen. Cut corners with your resume, and you cheat yourself of employment now and career success in the future.
#3. I will develop the career management tools needed to succeed
In a typical fifty-year work-life, where job changes occur about every four years, the most important professional skills you can develop are:
No one has ever told you to think of developing career management skills as being important to achieving long-term professional success in your life. But, since job security has become a memory from another century, you can see that the effort expended in acquiring career management skills will be paid back exponentially throughout your working life. A successful career doesn’t just happen, but it still can happen when you develop these career success skills and continue to polish them over the years.
#4. I will connect to my profession
Most people don’t appreciate the importance of having a professional network—that is, until they are in a job search and realize they don’t have one. The lack of security in the new world of work makes professional connectivity a priority, not as a transitory demand of the job search, but as an ongoing career management responsibility. This job hunt is probably not your first and almost certainly won’t be your last, so it would be smart to commit time to learning a network-integrated approach to job searching. Of course, this requires that you build and nurture a professional network.
When you connect to your professional community it means you are connecting with the most committed and best-connected people in your profession; that has to be worth a little ongoing time and effort when who you know can be so important in terms of successful career management. And, when you join, I hope that we can connect.
Anyone anywhere can join LinkedIn and become actively involved with the profession specific groups, increasing contacts, credibility and visibility. If you live in a metropolitan area, involvement in the local chapter of at least one professional association is the single best thing you can do for your career.
#5. I will be prepared for future job searches
Capture and save all useful information about employers in your own job search database, so that when it comes time for job change again, you won’t have to start from scratch: A company that hires accountants this year will probably be hiring them every year.
Save the jobs you come across today, and information about the job sites they come from, and next time you’ll start with a job map showing a majority of companies in your target area that typically hire professionals like you. You’ll also have knowledge of the people they like to hire and given your professional connectivity, you will probably have people to contact immediately.
#6. I will protect my job and boost my employability
Changing technology constantly alters the skills you need to compete, and without current skills, you are being paid for abilities that will rapidly become obsolete. You need an ongoing program of skill development to keep you employable and desirable in the job market.
One way to max your professional skills and protect your job at the same time starts with talking to your boss. Seek input for skills to develop and strategies to improve your performance. Implement the advice, and follow up informally every couple of months to share your commitment and progress. This informal follow-up keeps you visible to the people who can affect your future.
You’ll find that commitment to business imperatives, the common good, and consistent skill development will deliver you membership in the inner circle that exists in every department and company. This inner circle is where job security, plum assignments, raises, and promotions all live.
#7. I will steal time to bring my plans to life
The average American watches an astounding five hours of TV every night. You can steal time to bring your plans to life by tuning out just one thirty-minute sitcom each night. Use the time to understand and build the skills for professional success that you will use again and again throughout your professional career. Implement these simple, practical career resolutions and you can change the trajectory of your professional life forever. The alternative is to watch life whizz by on the boob tube, as you are encouraged to live up to your income rather than your dreams.
Martin Yate, CPC, author of Knock 'em Dead: Secrets & Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World, is a New York Times and international bestseller of job search and career management books. He is the author of 11 job search and career management books published throughout the English speaking world and in over 50 foreign language editions. Over thirty years in career management, including stints as an international technology headhunter, head of HR for a publicly traded company and Director of Training and Development for an international employment services organization.