6 Practical Career Resolutions

December 12, 2017
6 Practical Career Resolutions

This column receives many questions about specific issues related to career management, but careers don't happen in a vacuum. You have to put these issues in the larger context of an overall career management strategy and the tactics that will turn your dreams into achievable goals. Last week we discussed the current state of career management. This week, we will look at career resolutions to move your professional life forward.

Often, we make New Year's career resolutions: to get back to work, change employers or careers, win a promotion, become more successful, and so on. Yet all too often we forget to harness these dreams to the activities that will bring them to reality. Here are some practical career resolutions that will help manage your professional destiny.

1. Protect your job and boost employability

As technology changes, so do the skills you need to stay on top of your job. If you don't keep up, you'll rapidly become obsolete, decrease your job security and restrict future opportunities. Consequently, you need to develop an ongoing program for skill development.

It all starts with talking to your boss: Seek input on what skills you need to develop and suggested strategies to improve your job performance. Managers appreciate employees who demonstrate commitment and want to do their best. Implement the advice you receive, and follow up informally every couple of months to share your progress and commitment—and stay visible to the people who can influence your career's future.

2. Be part of the inner circle

Many managers believe that 80 percent of work gets done by 20 percent of their people—their most competent, dedicated and team-oriented people. Therefore, when special assignments come along, who will the manager assign them to? Who will get the better raises, who will get the promotions?

In most departments, companies and industries, there is an inner circle and an outer circle. You determine to which group you belong by your performance, attitude and behavior. If you see yourself standing in the outer circle, identify inner circle members and determine what they hold in common and the ways in which their behavior differs from the rest of the department. Then subtly re-model your professional persona accordingly. Your demonstrated commitment to consistent skill development while working for the department's common good will slowly but surely grant you membership in the inner circle.

3. Survive and prosper

Make 2018 the year you replace blind loyalty to a corporation with enlightened self-interest. You are somewhere on the arc of a 50-year career, and the most critical professional skills for your long-term success and stability may also be your weakest. You need to know how to:

  • Create a resume that works.
  • Employ effective job search tactics.
  • Turn interviews into job offers.
  • Develop and follow career management strategies.

4. Connect with your profession

When you hit a rough patch in your career—layoff, downsizing or something else—you will probably find that professional colleagues are one of the greatest resources to help you get back on track.

Anyone can join professionally relevant social media groups on sites like LinkedIn. Contributing occasionally to the conversations increases credibility, visibility and connections. Even better, involvement in your local SHRM chapter meetings enables you to know and be known by the most committed and best-connected people in HR.

5. Be prepared for future job searches

Change can happen unexpectedly. Keep an eye on the companies near you so that when it comes time for you to make a strategic career move, you'll have a map of all the employers, what they look for and maybe some connections at each company. It's even a good idea to archive job postings you so you can prepare a resume tailored to that employer.

6. Steal time to bring your plans to life

American adults watch, on average, five hours of TV every night. You can steal time to bring your plans to life by tuning out just one 30-minute show four nights a week. Use this time to understand, learn and build the professional and career management skills that you'll use throughout your entire career.

Next week in the third part of the series, Martin will discuss how to translate career resolutions into reality.

Have a question for Martin? E-mail your queries to YourCareerQA@shrm.org. We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know. We look forward to hearing from you!

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