When you’re not happy at work, making a New Year’s career resolution is easy: Get a new job. (Or, get a raise, snag that promotion, make it through a work week without using profanity—plenty to choose from.)
But when things are going well, you should still be setting work-related goals for yourself. And what better time to do it than the new year?
If you need some inspiration, we’ve compiled five career resolutions that everyone should make. Choose a couple or resolve to do them all—we guarantee you’ll set yourself up for success in 2012.
1. Have an Annual Career Check-Up
You probably think about your job every day, but when was the last time you really thought about it? Kick off 2012 by taking yourself out to lunch or coffee, and writing down how you’re feeling about your career. What makes you happy, and what would you like to change? Is your current job really what you want to be doing? Or, at the least, is it helping you reach your goals? Also do some salary research—is your income in line with your field and position?
Consider this process an annual check-up for your career health. If you feel good about everything—great! But if there are things that could be improved, think about how you can fix them this year, whether that’s taking on new responsibilities, working towards a promotion, or keeping your eye out for that next position.
2. Update Your Resume (and Everything Else)
Keeping your resume up-to-date is important for several reasons. For one, if a recruiter or a friend-of-a-friend calls out of the blue with a great job opportunity, you’re going to want to have it ready to go. Plus, it’s a lot easier to update your accomplishments periodically, when they’re fresh in your mind, rather than trying to add in a couple of years of experience all at once.
And while you’re getting your resume in shape, go through the rest of your documents too—refresh your portfolio, edit your LinkedIn bio, and update (or create) a personal list of accomplishments (a running tally that you don’t hand out, but that’s helpful for talking points for cover letters and interviews). Also shoot your references a note to say hello—but really to make sure you have their updated contact information.
3. Add a Bullet to Your “Skills” Section
Even if you’re not adding a new job to your resume this year, you can still add to the other sections! Make it your goal in 2012 to add at least one new bullet to “Skills” or “Education.” Are there technical skills that would make you more competitive in your field? Tools that could make your job (or your boss’ job) easier? A management class that would better position you for a promotion?
For inspiration, check the LinkedIn profiles of your colleagues a step or two higher than you current position, and think about how you can add their areas of expertise to your own skill set.
4. Expand Your Network
Contrary to popular belief, the best time to network isn’t when you’re looking for a job—it’s long before then. Why? Having a broad, diverse network already in place will make the job search that much easier—and besides, people tend to be happier to meet you when you don’t have that desperate “please help me get a job now” tone in your voice.
And before you say “I hate networking” and move on to the next resolution, remember that there are plenty of ways to make new connections outside of hitting the industry luncheon circuit. You could ask your boss to pay for a conference that looks interesting, ask a former co-worker and her new co-workers out to a happy hour, or, at the very least, join some LinkedIn groups.
At minimum, try to meet one new person every month (you’ll have a dozen new contacts by this time next year!). If you’re feeling really ambitions, try Classy Career Girl’s 4x4 Networking Challenge to meet four new people and strengthen four existing relationships—every month!
5. Be More Productive
There are plenty of techniques out there to help people be more productive—check out the Pomodoro Technique, time blocking, and anything on WorkAwesome. Different approaches work for everyone, but I guarantee there’s some method or trick out that will work for you, and help you save time, streamline a process, or just generally get stuff done a better way. So, make it goal to try at least four new ones this year, and see what works for you. (For bonus points: organize your inbox so you’re not spending an hour each day deleting Groupons and sale announcements.)
Career advancement is a year-round process, but why not let the momentum of January help kick-start your success? Here’s to a great year!
What career resolutions will you be making this year?
Check out more from Job Search Month at The Daily Muse
Photo courtesy of David Joyce.
Adrian was The Muse’s very first employee (ask her about the early days!) who built the Muse editorial team from the ground up. Now, she serves as Editor-at-Large, launching new content products and sharing expert career advice with Muse audiences online and off. When she’s not Musing, you’ll find her planning her next dinner party or international vacation. Say hi on Twitter and Instagram.More from this Author