Could 2014 be the year you get promoted, land your dream job or strike out by yourself? Keep doing the same things and you will get the same results – but make a change and who knows what you might achieve. We asked the experts to share their top career resolutions.
1. Build a network
You know the importance of networking but how many of us actually set time aside to build contacts?
‘Whether online or offline (though arguably your best contacts will be those people you meet in person), your network can act as your eyes and ears in organisations,’ says Clare Whitmell, who blogs on careers at www.JobMarketSuccess.com.
‘Don’t wait until you need your network: start investing time in it now so you’ll find it easier to ask for help when you need it. Book an hour in your diary once a week for posting on LinkedIn and Twitter, finding out about networking events or take a contact for coffee.
2. Switch off at the weekend
We all need some downtime and that means a complete break from emails. It sounds easy in theory, but making it happen requires effort and forethought.
‘To switch off mentally you need to switch off physically and that means turning off your work mobile and laptop at the weekend,’ says Colin Lloyd, Regional Director at Personal Career Management.
‘With a bit of forward planning this can be done without harming your relationship with your employer or increasing your stress levels. If your employer genuinely needs you to be available over the weekend, make sure the rules of engagement and methods of contact are clear and agreed and everyone keeps to them – including yourself.’
3. Make a career plan
Predictions suggest the economy is making a slow recovery, so who knows, 2014 might be the year things look up for you too. Develop a career plan now and you’ll be set to make the most of new opportunities and make sure you’re taking steps in the right direction.
‘Think about where you want to take your career and plan accordingly,’ advises Clare. ‘For big life changes (such as a promotion or career change) it helps to break down a plan into smaller steps, so set three-month goals.
‘If you want to switch careers, that might mean re-training, making new contacts or researching potential employers. Be flexible and seize opportunities, but make sure you’re staying on track with your main aims.’
4. Get credit for your work
If you rarely get credit for your work, try taking a proactive approach. ‘Start by making sure your name is on every piece of work you produce,’ says Corinne Mills, Managing Director of Personal Career Management.
‘For instance, if it’s a report that you have prepared for your boss for a senior management meeting, make sure that it has your name on it somewhere. You should also offer to come in to any meetings where the report will be discussed, to answer any queries that arise
‘At your performance appraisal remind your boss of the good things you did during the year, rather than spending time only on the things that could be better or plans for the future. It’s a good idea to capture your achievements on your Linkedin profile, too. It’s a great opportunity to tell the wider world about your contributions.’
5. Change your communication style
While some people will always be difficult, workplace relationships can often be improved by using a different communication style so determine to do things differently this year.
Corinne explains: ‘For instance, a macho colleague may not be good at subtlety so being direct in your discussions with them may be necessary. Equally, other colleagues may appear slow to act, but may have a reflective style and so need time to process your requests.
‘Try using a different approach, for example, increasing your assertiveness or patience, becoming more analytically focused or emotionally attuned in your discussions, depending on where their natural preferences lie. The greater versatility you can show in your dealings with colleagues, the more likely you are to dampen down some of their difficult behaviours.’
6. Improve your time management
Most of us think we’re good at time management, but picking up one or two tips can make a surprising difference to your productivity.
‘Ask your boss about going on a course there are lots of courses to choose from so pick one that will work for you and your organisation. Sell it to your boss on the basis that you will be more efficient and this will justify the time away from the office and the cost’ says Colin.
‘Alternatively, use self-help books. Choose one that fits your organisation’s culture for example, some recommend deleting all your emails when you come back from holiday on the basis that if it’s important they will email you again, which could create problems in some professions/cultures.’
7. Keep a record of your achievements
‘Tell me about the top three achievements in your career that you are most proud of.’ It’s a question interviewers love to ask – but how do you back up your answer?
‘Start a Career Capital File and it will be useful in lots of ways, such as backing up a pay rise request, giving background to a new boss or giving your confidence a boost,’ says Colin.
‘It’s a record of everything you have to offer, so keep all your annual appraisals as well any “well done” letters from your employer. Also important are commendations, nominations for awards, client testimonials and recommendations.
‘If you work in a target-driven environment keep any documents such as league tables that prove your performance. Keep the information together in hard copy format somewhere you can easily access it when you need it.’
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