Although any time of year can present the opportunity to grow and advance your career, the natural fresh start of a new year inspires many to take stock of their accomplishments and set new goals for the future. Whether you’re actively looking for a new position now or you’re simply polishing up your efforts for posterity, here’s what you need to know and do to make this your best year yet.

Know Your Goals

The beginning of any journey begins with figuring out where you’re going. For those searching for a position, your goal may be to land a job that provides security, challenge, and room to grow. Even if you’re currently employed, proactively managing your career is critical as you don’t want your skills or your role to become stale and outmoded. To do this, you can set a goal to develop your current role so it remains aligned with the needs of the company, expand your functional expertise as you consider new roles, or make the leap to a new role within the organization to broaden your knowledge. 

It’s also important to know where you’re beginning, so take some time to review what you currently have to offer your current or next employer. Going through the steps to create a personal branding statement will help you see all that you have to offer and then boil it down to the most important pieces. Your branding statement should include your vision, values, or principals, your promise or pledge, and your unique value proposition. It should be a single sentence written using simple language that’s easy for you to remember and recite. Start by listing attributes, qualities and ideas you have, and begin whittling until you’re happy. The result will be a statement that’s useful for everything from your morning mantra to answering the common question of “tell me about yourself.”

Strategies for Growth & Career Advancement

Now you know where you are and where you’d like to be. Here are a few steps to take as you begin that journey.

  • Manage Your Reputation and Visibility. Always show kindness and respect in every interaction, even in negative situations and especially when provoked. You don’t have to be a pushover, but always push back with professionalism. Reach out and help others, from colleagues to newcomers in your industry, and welcome helpful feedback whenever it’s offered. Lastly, be sure your social media profiles reflect your professional persona. No matter how we manage privacy settings, the worst things have a way of becoming public so think carefully about your online activity.
  • Develop Your Network. From in-person events to online groups and chats, making strong contacts will put you in a better position to learn new information, discover opportunities for advancement, manage your reputation and reach out for help when you need it. If the idea of networking is new to you, start with your current colleagues and branch out from there.
  • Commit to Continuous Learning and Development. Completing a degree or certification program should only be the beginning of your career development. Today’s jobs and the skills that go along with them are changing faster than ever so we always need to be on the lookout for ways to keep up. Start by taking any opportunities your company offers for skill-building, and take advantage of community college courses and online resources. Whether you’re pursuing an official credential or simply want to learn how to make the most of spreadsheets, keep growing!
  • Align With Changing Needs. Along with growing your personal skillset, it’s important to make sure you’re aligning your efforts with the current needs for your position, your company, and the market. It’s always a good idea to pursue skills that interest you, but be sure to balance those with a mix of skills that reflect the changing needs of your industry.

Managing Your Mindset

Whether you’re in the midst of a demanding job search or trying to grow in place, managing your mindset is an important aspect of reaching your goals. This can be difficult for anyone to accomplish considering that job searches are taking longer than ever, digital methods and artificial intelligence are leading the recruiting process, and the velocity of change is making traditional career planning methods obsolete. When your self-confidence is tested and you’re worried about either job security or landing the next position, stop for a moment and reframe how you see yourself.

Optimism and pessimism do not have to be inherent traits. Instead, we can cultivate confidence within ourselves and transform our worldview, which will affect how others see us as well. Pessimists tend to interpret events as personal, permanent, and pervasive rather than interpreting events as impersonal, temporary and limited. For example, if you’ve made a mistake, an optimistic interpretation is one where you acknowledge the error, but don’t let it tear you down as a person as it’s only a temporary state of being and limited in its ability to impact to the rest of your life or career. 

If you carry a negative or pessimistic mindset with you throughout your career, you may be inadvertently limiting your potential by talking yourself out of opportunities (“There’s no way I could ever do something like that”) or unwittingly poisoning interactions with those in a position to deliver opportunities to you. 

More Than a Platitude

The advice to “stay positive” is a tiresome platitude that isn’t particularly helpful for anyone trying to secure a new position or worried about the security of their current job. However, taking positive action and taking stock of what you have to offer, managing your mindset to avoid unwarranted negativity, and taking concrete steps to add skills to your employee toolbox will all help keep your career headed in the right direction for 2020 and beyond.

Our personalized career coaching has helped thousands of people take positive actions to improve their career outlook. We offer proven strategies ranging from changing your mindset to learning new skills, all focused on helping you grow and advance your career and your life. Contact us via email or at 262-786-9200 to learn more and enroll.