Q. I feel like I’ve had a ‘dud of a year’ in terms of my job. I haven’t accomplished much and opportunities to learn and develop have been slim. Do you have any advice to start out 2016 strong and really take hold of my career?
A. Second to losing weight, most people resolve to improve their work situation in the New Year, and this is actually achievable. The beginning of a new year also means the start of a new quarter and a fresh opportunity to develop new skills and good work habits, whether in your current job or in a search for a new position. Taking initiative and understanding the needs for measurable activity and goals is key if you want the end of this year to look better than last.
So consider these ways to get your career back on track in the New Year:
– Reach out internally. New opportunities are not going to appear out of thin air just because the ball dropped in Times Square. If your career is suffering from a lack of new opportunities, reach out and look for them. See where you can add value, and where the organization might benefit from having you learn a new skill. Discuss these ideas with your manager, but only if you come prepared with concrete examples of work you can do, projects you can take on, and value you can add. This is your career. Own it.
– Reach out externally. Develop a network to be proud of. LinkedIn is the documentation of a network, not the actual network. Get in front of people. Who do you want to know? Which companies are of interest? Read their recruitment pages. See how they describe their positions and the skillsets they need. Which do you have? Which talents can you develop were you are? Will you have to leave to get more experience? The fastest way to get the answers you need is to talk to people who work at companies of interest, or people who used to work there. Make sure you reciprocate.
– Share your expertise. Reciprocity needs to be part of your life. People will meet with you if you understand they want value. People will seek you out when they know you have value to offer. This is an exceptional way to become known to recruiters.
– Ask for feedback. Often we see ourselves significantly differently than others see us. Start with your supporters. Ask them where they see your strengths, which projects show them you are excited, and which put you to sleep. They may have ideas about the areas you should explore and where the organization has a need.
– Be curious. Take a class. Learn more about your company and its competitors. Contribute to business blogs. Post on LinkedIn, and read everything that enhances your knowledge of your industry.
Everything you initiate will prove more rewarding than an assignment from someone who thinks they know how to motivate you, or increase your engagement. Instead of an empty resolution that may only lasts a few weeks, resolve to make 2016 your best business year yet—from start to finish.
-Elaine Varelas, Managing Partner, Keystone Partners