Resolutions - word and numbers written in sand

New Year career resolutions

Whether you’re currently in a role or job-hunting, now is the perfect time to set yourself some new career goals. We take a look at just some of the different career resolutions you could choose for 2012.

Fix your career goals for the year

If you are already in a job, decide what you want to achieve over the next 12 months. This could mean vowing to improve your overall performance, securing a promotion, acquiring experience in a specific area or bolstering an uneasy relationship with a colleague or a boss. Whatever the goal, make sure it is a realistic one and list your aims in order or priority.

Draw up an action plan for achieving them and involve your manager when or where appropriate. For instance, when it comes to boosting performance, you may wish to investigate the possibility of finding a coach or mentor within the organisation and your boss could help with this. If you are looking for an opening, consider where you want to be this time next year and piece together a positive plan for achieving this, which might include acquiring new skills to make yourself more employable.

Polish your online profile and footprint

With recruitment agencies and employers increasingly using professional networking and social media sites to both track down and check out talent, your online presence is too important to lie forgotten or unattended. An out-of-date or half-written attempt is worse than having no online profile at all.

Start the New Year by making sure all of your online profiles are well-written, considered, consistent and current. Also assess your wider Internet footprint to check there is nothing out there that might tarnish your professional image or reputation.

As well as online profiles on networking sites, check out some of the new online CV tools that are available that let you make use of rich media such as video and to better showcase your talents.

Professional networking and social media sites aren’t only of value when looking for a job but also help to build your profile in a sector. Make a point of joining specialist groups or regularly taking part in discussion threads on particular topics. In short, make your online profile work hard for you in 2012 whether you are a jobseeker or employed.

Acquire new skills

Developing new skill(s) or updating existing ones should be on everyone’s list of resolutions every year. Today it is especially important as employers increasingly expect individuals to take more responsibility for their learning and development.

“It is up to jobseekers to ensure they have what’s being looked for,” explains Lynne Crowe, director at recruiter Hays Construction. “Professionals should continually review their skills and may need to invest in additional training and development to help move their career forward.”

Acquiring or updating skills needn’t be cost-prohibitive if you aren’t in a job. Thanks to the Internet, courses have become more bite-size and affordable; there is also a wealth of how-to articles and developmental material freely available. Alongside technical skills, work on boosting soft skills and maybe this is the year you learn a new language, which is increasingly a differentiator as companies seek to gain a global edge.

Shift your mindset

This can be the most difficult area in which to carry through a resolution but it can also offer the most significant gains as it means fundamentally changing behaviour(s).

Carry out a ruthless self-assessment of your personality traits-character and examine what might be impeding your career progression. A key characteristic throughout the economic downturn, for instance, has been the ability to be able to adapt to changing conditions and roles it will continue to stand you in good stead as you seek to further your career.

“It is important for professionals to display flexibility and a willingness to train in different areas,” says Crowe. “This will make individuals more employable and is essential if they are to avoid being pigeon-holed in one role.”

Establish new contacts

A fabulous contacts file isn’t just the preserve of those working in the media. Being able to connect with the right people could provide the gateway to your next great career move - gaining insight about a particular position or hearing about suitable openings in advance.

“Those in employment looking to switch jobs must think strategically using resources available to acquire reliable information on a new role,” says Crowe.

Aim to add five valuable new contacts a week. Networking sites have made this much easier but don’t just send an invitation to someone on LinkedIn or Facebook. Write a note explaining why you want to be in touch with this person and show that you are willing to invest in a two-way relationship. Remember there is also a world of face-to-face networking opportunities out there at industry events or even within your own organisation.

Get organised/improve time management

Nearly everyone has room for improvement when it comes to tidying up working practices and making yourself more time-efficient. Start 2012 by performing some basic time management exercises.

Time typical tasks and assess whether the time spent on them correlates with their importance. If not, make some adjustments to how you spend your working day. Also look for common time-stealers, such as obsessively checking email every few minutes. New Year is also great time for de-cluttering which can help to free up head space as well as physical space.   

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