“I’ve decided that 2013 is the time to start getting serious about my job and career. I want to make some plans now before I start losing my motivation. What do you suggest?” – Louisa from Framingham, MA
Ah, New Year’s: The time for making — and breaking — resolutions. Whether or not you keep your commitment to going to the gym more or reading those books that have been piling up in your bedroom, staying focused on your job and career goals can have lasting effects throughout this year and beyond.
Here are four ideas to get you started.
Update Your Résumé and Cover Letter
If you’ve been using the same résumé and cover letter for a while, but haven’t been seeing results, give them a new look in the New Year. To get started, check out our past advice blogs “Six Strategies to Make Employers Read Your Résumé” and “10 Tips for a Great Cover Letter.” A second set of eyes can also help you spot areas for improvement – ask someone whose opinion you respect to review your documents or visit your local Goodwill career center for an expert’s opinion.
Learn Something New
Don’t get stuck in the same old routine! If you already have a job, reflect on what you do every day and some of the past projects you’ve worked on – is there something you’ve always wanted to learn more about? If you’re still looking for work, what skills or knowledge could you gain that would make you even more of an asset to employers?
Creative and active pursuits have their place too. Even though they may seem unrelated on the surface, using your brain in new ways outside of work can help you start to think more innovatively on the job. And if you’re looking for work, a new hobby can be a good conversation point when you go on interviews and demonstrate your breadth of interests.
Get on Track for a Promotion or Raise
The beginning of the year is a great time to bring up your new goals — like earning a raise or promotion — with your employer. But you want to make the conversation about more than just money.
Start by emphasizing your commitment to the company and your interest in furthering your career there. Explain your own ideas and goals for your professional development, and ask your supervisor what else you can do to demonstrate you deserve a new title or increased compensation. Keep track of your accomplishments and the new responsibilities you take on, then bring that information to a follow-up meeting with your boss later in the year.
Set a Theme for the Year
Don’t believe in resolutions? Get in on the spirit of the New Year by setting a “theme” instead. Come up with a word or series of words that describes what you’d like to be – words like independent, financially secure, respected and calm – and use that theme to guide your actions this year. Before you make a decision, such as accepting a new job or spending money, ask yourself if it’s in line with your theme and act — or don’t — accordingly.
Best career wishes for you in the New Year!