Head into the New Year with a Revitalized Career Plan
For your career to flourish, we recommend that you take a step back and conduct a career “checkup”—a self-assessment designed to help you evaluate the progress and achievements you've made throughout the year. And now is the perfect time.
2020 has been one of the most challenging years, requiring many to adapt to significant changes in the workplace, increased stress and anxiety, and economic upheaval. Taking stock of where you are now in your career will help you to identify any areas for development, set new goals for yourself going forward, and celebrate your successes—giving you the perspective you need to make sure you’re on the right path and have the information you need to plan out your next steps.
But what should this career checkup focus on?
The industry and your employer
Before you look at your own skills and abilities, it's vital to look at the industry you're in. A bit of light research can tell you how viable your industry is, as well as its projected health. Be sure to seek out thought leadership articles and social media posts from respected industry authorities, as well as more general news pieces.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics website is also an invaluable resource for the latest projections on individual industries. You should also consider the performance of your current employer, and whether they are building a supportive culture that you want to be part of going forward.
Giving yourself a skills assessment will help you see progress you've made in the year. Take stock of what you've learned, and what new skills you've picked up since this time last year, but also use your research to gain insight into those talents that will become most valuable in the future. At the same time, you need to consider what you may need to learn to stay ahead of the curve in the face of new trends, such as increased automation.
Taking positive action
A career checkup isn't all research and soul searching. In fact, there's positive action that you should take as part of the checkup.
1. Give your resume a refresh. Add new responsibilities, achievements, awards or accreditations should be on your resume, whether you're thinking of looking for a new role or not.
Tip: Use the bullets on your resume to highlight your accomplishments. Accomplishments are examples of how you have added value, versus responsibilities you had. Use a strong action verb to start each bullet. Describe the overarching action you took and give quantifiable results you achieved. This will help make your story more memorable and help the reader understand the value you can bring to the role.
2. Spruce up your social media profiles. Social media is one of the first places prospective employers will go to learn more about you when considering you for a role. In fact, 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn as their primary search tool. Update your LinkedIn profile—whether you are actively job seeking or not—to ensure that anyone who visits your profile will get an accurate snapshot of what you offer.
Tip: Update your profile summary and job description, and include facts and figures relating to key deliverables, to build credibility with your audience and make recruiters’ lives easier when assessing your experience. Embed examples of your work (links to awards, videos you are in, links or documents you have created/contributed to) to demonstrate what you have achieved, and ask for recommendations from people you have worked with and for. You can also look for relevant groups and communities to join, where you can seek advice and get noticed by contributing industry discussions.
3. Talk it over. Find a mentor, colleague, or supervisor who you are comfortable discussing your career with and ask for some honest feedback. It's always good to get a second opinion. Asking them the right questions can help to provide a clear perspective. Questions you can ask to get you started include:
• What would you say are my most valuable soft skills?
• Which words would you use to describe my personal style?
• What would you say I am an expert in?
• Is there a time you can recall where I delivered something that impressed you?
Tip: Use the answers from these questions to validate what you already know about your own qualities and experience and add new insights you gain to your resume and LinkedIn profile.
4. Get a head start on some soft networking. Reach out to influential contacts who you've made or helped over the year, and let them know that you'd love to work together if they ever need your assistance. Staying top-of-mind is a great way to find new opportunities.
Tip: Do your homework before your outreach, to ensure you know what your contact is currently doing professionally and to gain insights that can be used to personalize your approach.
5. Map out your next year. An action plan for the next year lets you envision what you want to achieve and where you want to be by this time next year. It sets benchmarks that you can look back on in next year's assessment, whether you plan for a career change, promotion or want to pick up new skills.
Tip: Be specific! Define the kind of role you would like to be doing, the skills you would like to develop, the kind of team you would want to work with or even manage/lead, and what success would look like for you. This will help you to crystalize what it is you are aiming for, as well as formulate an actionable plan.
Following these steps will give you the purpose you need to make the next 12 months the best year for your career yet. It's time to grab success with both hands. You have this!