10 Actions that Will Advance Your Career in 2017!
The confetti has fallen over your face. You’ve counted down the last seconds of 2016 with your dearest loved ones. You’ve toasted to the New Year. You’ve posted all of your NYE’s pictures on Instagram and Facebook. You’ve jotted down your New Year’s Resolutions and crossed your fingers for that new promotion you’ve been praying for. Now what? It will take more than two knotted fingers and hope to secure an interview, a promotion or your dream job. It seems as though we just embarked upon 2016. Now we’re faced with a New Year and a second chance for opportunity and career advancement. No matter your age or current job habits, you can reverse years of poor career choices by embracing these behaviors that will progress your career in 2017. Ready, set, let’s get started!
1. Take Responsibility.
You have to take ownership of your career development. There are numerous companies who have scaled back on training due to budget cuts, and smaller companies cannot provide significant support for their employees. To simply put this: Your career rests in only one set of hands and that’s yours. If you’re unemployed and actively seeking a career, your job search should be your full-time job. Work 40 hours per week on finding a job and submitting applications. No excuses.
Have a long-term career strategy, or at the very least an idea for where you’re headed. Ask yourself, “What do I really want to do? Or where do I see myself in 5-10 years?” Write this information down. I cannot stress how important it is to write down your goals especially as it pertains to your career or job search. This will guide you throughout 2017 and allow you to monitor your career development and growth.
3. Connect the Dots.
Work in step with your company’s goals. Connect the dots from your role to your company’s vision and key objectives. Reflect on how your work aligns with the organization’s goals and then examine how you can maximize your contributions. If you’re a job seeker, you can do this activity also. Think about the companies that you’re applying for and how their strategic plan coincidences with your career goals.
4. Strengthen Your Communication Skills.
Communication skills can make or break our careers. Pick one area that you need to hone in on such as listening, presenting, negotiating, or writing emails for example, and commit to improving this area. Take a class, practice with a trusted friend or co-worker and focus on your ‘needs improvement’ skill. Strong communication skills are vital for a successful career. A great resource for assessing your communication skills is www.mindtools.com. Click on the communications page. Here, you’ll find communication checklists and multiple tools that you can start utilizing right away.
5. Cross OVER.
Many successful employees have risen through the ranks by taking cross-functional roles, such as moving from finance to sales, marketing to IT, or from administration to project management for example. Concentrate on your transferrable skills and don’t stay confined to one box.
Expand your experience and expertise. Volunteer for special projects or assignments that are outside your everyday role. Not only will this look very impressive to your supervisor it also adds diversity to your professional portfolio. You will look like a team player and gain more transferable skills.
7. Find a Guide.
Mentors can serve as influential role models and provide tremendous support and guidance for your career. Never underestimate the power of a mentor. Reach out to a potential mentor within your company and see if he or she would be open to mentoring you for a specific purpose and timeframe. You can even draft a mentorship proposal to outline your goals and your mentor’s objectives.
8. Network Now and NOT Next Week.
The best time to increase your network is today. Your network = your net worth. Starting right now, get involved in groups such as professional and charitable organizations. Step into leadership roles and make your expertise be known.
9. Befriend LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network on the Internet and if you’re not on LinkedIn, you’re missing out on one of the most useful professional networking and career development social media tools that’s available. In one recent study, 91% of prospective employers admitted that they screen applicants by checking their social networks (98% use LinkedIn specifically for this purpose). Create a professional LinkedIn account (e.g., professional head shot and grammatically correct bio) and begin networking virtually.
10. Hire a Professional Resume Writer.
This last action item is the most important investment that you will ever make for your career. If your car stopped working tomorrow, would you trust your grandmother to fix it for free? If your air conditioning unit in your home stopped running, would you ask your best friend to repair it? If you had a cavity, would you consider allowing your little brother to ‘look it over’? Your car, your home and your teeth, are very important to you, correct? Then, how important is your career? Why would you trust your grandmother, best friend or little brother to review, revise or create your resume? If you’re not getting interviews, there’s a 90% or more chance that your resume is not solid. Companies utilize Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) to screen applications prior to reviewing resumes. Get your resume into the hands of a real person by investing in a professional resume writer. Stop being cheap with your career, because it will ultimately cost you much more than a resume-writing fee.
2017 is the year of advancement. You have all of the tools necessary to move forward in your career. Remember, companies look for specialists, not generalists. Develop a personal brand, distinguish your skills and strengths, and determine how to best market yourself. I believe in you! Cheers to Your Career!!!