January is the perfect time to give your professional life a boost and set career goals for the coming year. Here are 10 of the best career resolutions to make, along with a few actionable tips on how to achieve them:
1. Perform an annual career checkup
Before you can set any career resolutions, the first step is to give your past year a detailed review. Use this time to assess whether you want to grow in your current role or hunt for a new one. If you’re thinking of using your talents elsewhere, these questions will help you assess what is working and what to look for in your next company. Here are some good questions to ask:
- What is my proudest professional accomplishment from the past year?
- Did I receive the support and resources needed to effectively do my job in 2016? What could help me hit my goals?
- Have I learned something new from my manager? Is there a team within the organization where I would feel more supported and/or challenged?
- Are there any new skills I acquired this year? Does my resume need an update?
- Is this a positive and motivating environment? Do I enjoy the dynamics and office politics?
- Am I excited about coming to work each day? Do I feel fulfilled in this role?
- What is the most important constructive feedback I received this year? How can I carry that with me into 2017 and improve?
2. Give your online profile a makeover
In 2017, the first thing a potential client, employer or collaborator will do is type your name into Google. Do a quick check and see what pages come up in search results. Then if you can, go in and fix up those links. Here are a few things to check:
- Photos – For everywhere that a profile photo shows, such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, make sure you have a bright photo that actually looks like you. No pets, partners or costumes should be in this photo. Keep it simple, clean and professional.
- Accomplishments – For anywhere a bio or resume is listed, add one or two key accomplishments from 2016. Did you run a major campaign, increase profitability of the business by XX percent or speak at a known conference? Freshen up your brag bullets.
- Personal site – Consider putting together a personal site to showcase your work that will come up high in search results. Weebly, Squarespace and WordPress all have easy to use, affordable (and often free!) templates to quickly build a portfolio.
3. Build your professional network
70% of jobs come through networking. If the idea of going to boring industry events night after night sounds draining, here’s a few fresh ways to build your professional network in 2017:
- Ask colleagues from other departments to lunch. Take the time to learn more about their backgrounds, goals and hobbies.
- Host a networking brunch. Invite professional contacts to each bring one guest. You will meet new people and also be remembered as a connector.
- Remember to strengthen your existing relationships in addition to meeting new people! Dig up old contacts you met once or twice and reach out to grab happy hour cocktails.
- Try Shapr, a free networking app that introduces you to nearby professionals with common interests. Skip events and awkward icebreakers and just head straight to coffee for meaningful conversations.
4. Learn new skills
Sharpen your professional skills and learn a few shortcuts for getting faster and better at your job. Here are a few options:
- Let your supervisor know you’d like to get better a specific skill and be proactive in asking for advice. A good manager will help map out a plan such as mentoring you on a related project or giving you opportunities to learn that skill on the job.
- Take an evening class. Some companies offer tuition reimbursement for professional development – explore if your company offers this policy.
- Browse Coursera for a free online course or use your lunch break to check out YouTube tutorials.
5. Become an expert in your field
Get informed about the industry mavens, trends and changes within your field using these steps:
- Identify the top blogs in your industry and subscribe to those newsletters.
- Get a Twitter account and follow industry leaders. Be active in retweeting and sending out your own tweets sharing industry news.
- Volunteer to speak a conference. One of the best ways to absorb a subject is by preparing to teach others! See if there is a local event where you may be able to discuss some aspect of your industry and learn from others.
6. Volunteer to lead a big project
Ask for more responsibility on a project that will help you grow and look great on your resume. If there are no current projects available, come up with a new idea to boldly present at your weekly staff meeting.
7. Get better at receiving constructive feedback
It’s incredibly valuable to get better at accepting and learning from critiques. This year, take these steps to grow from your reviews:
- Take a breath. If you find yourself getting anxious or worked up, write down all feedback during reviews, take a walk and then read through the feedback with fresh eyes.
- Say thank you. Offer your appreciation for people taking the time to help you improve.
- Schedule a follow up. Once you have processed the feedback, try to make adjustments or come up with solutions. Then offer a time to present your ideas and get clarity that you’re moving in the right direction.
8. Organize your files and desk
Clear the clutter. See if you can feng shui your coffee cups, pens, books and papers. Once your physical space is in good shape, do a cleanup of your digital files. Sort through your documents and get rid of those that are no longer needed. Then create a clean archive so you can easily find any files for reference in the New Year.
9. Be more productive
Make 2017 the year you work fewer hours and get more done. Here are a few tips for staying focused:
- Take Facebook off your phone or at least turn off notifications. Unless you run your company’s social media, you can wait a few hours to see photos from the weekend.
- Use a project management tool like Redbooth to organize and prioritize your tasks. Track due dates and visit this check list every morning to make sure you’re focused on the high priority projects.
- Instead of 20 minutes trying to fumble in the break room, start bringing your coffee to work. Pre caffeinate on the way and be ready to start when you sit down at your desk.
10. Improve your work-life balance
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. A terrific resolution is to get better at leaving work when you leave the office. Here’s some ideas:
- Take work email off your phone so you’re not tempted to respond to emails in the evenings.
- Plan a real vacation. Just ask for the time off and book a plane ticket.
- Find a hobby that helps you unplug. Join a book club, sign up for guitar classes or become a regular at a gym.
- Schedule more quality time the people and pets that matter! Take your pooch to a dog park, work on an art project with your kid or share cooking duties with your partner a few times a week.
About the author: Mandy Menaker is the Head of PR and Brand Development at Shapr, a networking app for meeting inspiring professionals near you. When not writing about networking, fitness, and travel (three very awesome things) she can be found cycling through Manhattan with her 6 lb Maltipoo catching a ride. Connect with her @mandymenaker on Twitter or visit http://mandymenaker.com.