Many if not most people make some sort of New Year’s Resolutions, an appropriate response to a brand new year.  This first Monday in January is a great time to Career Management one of your top resolution priorities for 2015. No matter what your career circumstances, here are seven “career resolutions” you can start today:

  1. Whatever you are currently doing, do it well! No matter what your career circumstances, there are always positive steps you can take.

    > If you are in a job you love, find ways to add value so you can keep it.

    > If you hate what you’re doing, resolve to do what you can as well as you can– it will build up your résumé and give you a sense of personal accomplishment, even if it’s not recognized by anyone else. But don’t stop there– make a plan for getting a better job.

    > If you’re out of work, reframe your situation from “unemployed” to “in transition” and learn how to conduct an effective search for new work.

    > And if you find yourself at a loss in terms of career focus, resolve to get some assistance figuring out who you are, what you might be doing next and how to get there. If you have the opportunity to work with a coach, great. If not, seek out government sponsored programs or no/low cost alternatives through libraries, professional associations, unions and local networking groups.

  2. Shape up! In addition to trimming a bulging waistline, resolve to tighten up your value proposition. This means an accomplishment based résumé, a concise “elevator pitch” and a batch of SOARS stories (Situation-Obstacles/ Opportunities-Actions-Results-Skills) that demonstrate what you’ve done in the past as an indicator of what you can do in the future. And while you’re focusing on getting “lean,” resolve to prune your emails to the essentials (if it doesn’t fit in one frame it’s too long) and keep your workspace uncluttered (Your Mom was right about cleaning up your room : ).
  3. Enhance your hard skills. Think about pursuing a new certification, finishing a degree or attending a conference that will build your skill set and demonstrate that you are a lifelong learner. If your funds are limited, get creative. What skills could you barter? (We’ve traded career services for house painting, pet sitting and jazz music for an event.) Many professional associations will waive conference registration fees for volunteers. In Ontario, anyone over 60 can enrol in university courses at no charge (although they are deemed a taxable benefit).
  4. Build your soft skills. There’s an excellent book by Master Executive Coach Marshall Goldsmith called What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. If even you’re not “here” yet, make sure your soft skills keep pace with your technical competence. People get recruited/hired/promoted/retained because of who they are and how they deal with others. (There are dozens of business analysts out there; become the one people want to show up every day) This means learning how to manage up, down and across boundaries. If that’s not your strong suit, invest in coaching to develop the skills that become increasingly important the further along you get in your career. Note: In all our years of coaching, we’ve never had a client on the firing line because of lack of technical skills!
  5. Do who you are. The greatest career success and satisfaction comes from doing work that is aligned with who you are. For any of you who have been brainwashed into believing that that anything that comes easily must not be worth pursuing, get over it–work is for people who forgot how to play! The best job in the world is one in which you show up and have fun, people think you are brilliant and pay you well for doing something that comes naturally. So for anything you just can’t help doing, find a way to take it to the bank.
  6. Learn to accept yourself. A good friend once shared this great advice, “If you can’t hide it, paint it gold.” If you have only worked in one place, sell your loyalty. If you’ve job-hopped, talk about your adaptability. If you’re older, stress your experience and renewed energy. If you’re just starting out, emphasize your eagerness. There’s almost nothing that can’t be reframed, so seek another perspective if you need help recognizing the value of what you bring to the table.
  7. Network, network, network! If you have a bunch of good SOARS stores and a dynamic network, you are assured of career success. Since >80% of jobs/contracts/consulting engagements/clients come about through networking, this is the Number 1 skill you should resolve to master in 2015. We once had a client who was downsized on a Wednesday afternoon. Because he had a vibrant network developed from staying in touch with former clients, being active and visible in his professional association and committing to “collecting” people wherever he went, he had 3 offers by Thursday, made a decision by Friday and started his new job on Monday–pocketing his severance pay in its entirety!