The New Year is more than just a change in calendar, it presents the perfect opportunity to change yourself by making a commitment to become better. Whether that be by exercising to get in shape, dieting to lose weight, or simply saving more money, all forms of self-betterment are on the table. New Year’s resolutions, however, should not only be saved for one’s personal life. Professional development should also be top of mind. So, as we embark on a brand-new year decade (!!!), there’s no better time than now to focus on how best to further your career through professional development.
It all begins with realistic expectations. According to US News & World Report, roughly 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February. If you’re serious about your career, don’t let yourself become a part of this statistic. Here then, are 5 realistic resolutions you can make that’ll set your career up for success in the near future.
Strengthen Old Connections
Make this the year that you proactively reach out to people in your existing network and strengthen old connections (i.e. past colleagues, schoolmates, childhood friends, etc.). Take them out for lunch, grab a cup of coffee, or simply just spend 15 minutes over the phone catching up. The power of your professional network cannot be overstated. It can support you by helping you find connections in your industry, or in an industry you’re trying to break into, and it can also help you find leads for jobs at specific companies. The right employee referral can increase your chances of landing a job tenfold.
Just as important as strengthening old connections, making new ones is equally as important. When it’s done well, networking will not only help you land a job faster, but it can also give you a competitive edge – “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
To do so, become active on LinkedIn and join groups related to your field that you can actively participate in. Then take those connections from online to offline when possible (i.e. meet in person). You can also build upon your professional network and make new connections at conferences, tech events, or after-work socials. Consult our previous blog for how to get the most out of such events.
Expand Your Skill Set
In the ever-evolving world of technology, you can never rest on your laurels. So, make a concerted effort to learn new skills and to strengthen existing ones. Learn all you can about emerging technology, become certified, and if you have an expired certification, become re-certified. Certifications, and other accolades, can help you land a job because they showcase your skill set and prove the claims stated on your resume.
Communication brings people together and closer to each other. So instead of putting your head down to focus on your work, keep it up (in a figurative sense). Return emails and calls promptly, inform your colleagues about where you’re at on a project and ask if they’re in need of any assistance on theirs. Talk to people and strengthen those workplace relationships. This practice will help you improve upon your communication skills, a highly desirable soft skill, and ingratiate you with your fellow coworkers.
Be Willing to Take Risks
Where there’s no risk, there’s no reward. According to Valerie Oswalt, the former VP of sales, west area for Mondelēz International (now CEO of Century Snacks, LLC), “If you’re not taking risks in your career, you might actually be creating more risk for yourself.” So, don’t let inhibitions, or a fear of failure, hold you back. Try new things and volunteer to partake in tasks you have not done before. You will not only learn and grow from this venture, but it’ll also help you to get noticed along the way.
While resolutions are never easy to keep, if you make a determined effort to uphold these, you’ll quickly be asking yourself what took you so long to make them.