December 29, 2009

Tuesday Tips: Top 10 Career Resolutions for 2010

Happy New Year, dear readers!

Are you working on your New Year’s resolutions? I used to think that making resolutions was a big fat waste of time.

No pun intended, since most of my resolutions were some variation on “lose weight” or “exercise more”.

Well, duh! No wonder my resolutions were a wash. They were so vague, with no way to measure success, that I was doomed to fall short. (To learn more about setting “smart” career resolutions, be sure to check out this week’s JobMonkey newsletter. If you’re not signed up, you can check out the archives at this link.)

If you find yourself wanting to embrace the new, but aren’t sure where or how to begin, here’s a look at ten great career resolutions you should adopt for 2010:

1. I will regularly update my resume.

If you are currently job seeking, you are probably intimately familiar with your resume. Hopefully you have tweaked it ’til it sparkles with active verbs and measurable statements. But once you land a job, your resume file probably gets shuffled off to never never land — “Never, never edit your resume until you need to land a job.” Well, no more inertia in 2010. No matter what your employment status, resolve to work on writing your resume (or rewriting, as the case may be) at least once a month. Consider it your “plan B”.

2. I will keep myself apprised of news and developments in my industry.

Sign up for Google News Alerts, subscribe to a professional journal, or just read the business section each day. Whether you are a senior executive or a rising mailroom star, knowing the business of your business will make you an indispensable resource.

3. I will maintain my social networking profile.

Now before you get carried away, this doesn’t mean you need to maintain an active presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. etc. That alone could be a full-time job, for goodness sake! Rather, pick one site and work on polishing up your profile (or starting one). Fine tune it, do some networking and see where it takes you. Evaluate your progress midyear and make some adjustments to your strategy. (For tips on using social networking, refer to my how-to use LinkedIn guide from earlier this year.

4. I will volunteer. Whatever your skills, you can no doubt contribute them in a meaningful way to someone in need. This time of year points out the importance of volunteerism, but giving to others in any season of the year is a great way to grow as a person and a professional. For more on how volunteering can help you find a job or grow in your career, check out this tutorial.

5. I will continue to expand my skills.

Hopefully you work for someone that cares about your professional development. Ideally, you have a boss who cares about teaching you news skills and helping you to expand your experiences. But even if you don’t, you can — and should — still invest in yourself. Whether that means taking Spanish at your local community college or finding a mentor to help you improve your public speaking skills, skill-building should be an essential part of your new year.

6. I will read at least one new book each month.

Like skill-building, reading helps to expand your intellect — inside the office and outside of it, too! Pick non-fiction books that teach you how to change your oil, get out of debt, or be a better friend/parent/spouse. Pick historical books, self-improvement books or even fluffy fiction books. Whatever the book, reading is a great way to engage your curiosity and creativity. Plus, you might just find a bit of inspiration for your career, while you’re at it!

7. I will improve my time management.

Did you know that email and phone calls are the two biggest time drains in an office environment. Don’t believe me? Try this little experiment: For one day, keep a log of every moment you spend chatting online, forwarding silly emails, or surfing the Internet for anything non-work related. Even if it’s just 30 minutes a day, ask yourself this: Could I not spend that 2.5 hours per week in a more productive fashion?

8. I will figure out what I really want to be when I grow up.

Are you stuck in a dead-end job? Do you find yourself wondering, “Is this really all there is to life?” If you want to find your true calling, then resolve to spend 2010 exploring what really makes you tick. Read a lot (see #6) — including books like What Color is Your Parachute; go on informational interviews; and just spend some time reflecting on what truly makes your happy. Then put a game plan into action to turn your bliss into a career.

9. I will be a better networker.

If you are currently looking for a job, hopefully you already know all about the benefits of networking. But even if you are happily employed, networking is an essential component of your continued growth as a professional.

Reach out to new people, refresh old relationships and explore the possibilities of online networking. Just don’t forget to follow up with all your new contacts — whether with a monthly email or a quarterly coffee date.

10. I will increase my income.

If 2009 has taught us anything, it’s that having an emergency fund is a wise idea. Not only does a pile of money in the bank minimize some of the panic that comes from an unexpected layoff, it also gives you the freedom to make some less-than-conventional career choices. If you are finding it hard to make ends meet — let alone save for the future — it’s time to look at ways to increase your income. As a valuable employee for at least 6-12 months, you might want to consider asking for a raise. Or try thinking “outside the box”, by increasing your income through freelancing, working from home and even selling stuff on eBay.

Have you set your 2010 Resolutions yet? What are you planning to accomplish in the new year?

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