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Advice / Job Search / Networking

Make This Year Count: The Perfect Career Goals for Every Single Month

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It’s great to set goals for the year, but most of us forget to factor in the time period during which we’re making them. When you consider what season it is or what the weather is like, your ambitions suddenly require more (or sometimes less) effort.

That’s why we’re going to help make your career goals for you this year—because we want you to succeed, and because we know the best times of year to focus on certain activities. (Read: No one likes to job search in the summer.)

So each month, we’re going to ask you to focus on one aspect of your career—that’s it! And, as a bonus, we’re providing resources to help you along the way.

Starting with January, we’ll tell you when to update your resume, increase your productivity, and focus on finding a better work-life balance—and by December, checking accomplishments off your list will feel like second nature.

Let’s get started taking on this year!

January: Update Your Resume

Chances are, enough has happened this past year that you can add and remove things (maybe even whole jobs!) from your resume. While you definitely have to tailor it for individual positions, there likely are updates you can make to your master version.

In addition to updating your positions and accomplishments, focus on these three tasks this month:

1. Use Better Verbs

Strong action verbs are your new best friends when it comes to crafting a powerful resume.

185 Powerful Verbs That Will Make Your Resume Awesome

2. Quantify Your Bullet Points

Numbers and stats can transform good bullet points into great ones, so get specific with important details.

How to Quantify Your Resume Bullets (When You Don’t Work With Numbers)

3. Re-design It

Maybe the new year means it’s time for a new resume layout. Spruce yours up with any of these free templates (or hire a pro to do it for you).

275 Free Resume Templates You Can Use Right Now

February: Improve Your LinkedIn Profile

Whether you’re searching for a new job, thinking about switching careers, or just wanting to give your LinkedIn profile a bit of love, February is the time to do it. With hiring season at its peak around this time, you’ll want to make sure your online presence is ready for whomever’s looking at it.

1. Decorate It

Add a bit of flair to your LinkedIn with a free background design that’ll make you stand out.

23 Free LinkedIn Backgrounds That Will Make Recruiters Love Your Profile

2. Highlight It

Improve your headline for maximum viewership by being specific, highlighting your current position, and showing off your accolades.

How to Make Your LinkedIn Headline Way More Effective in Under 5 Minutes

3. Participate on It

The quickest way to get your name out there? Join in on a discussion group!

How I Got 425% More Page Views on LinkedIn—and You Can, Too

March: Do a Little Networking

The word everyone hates: Networking. But there’s no time like now to start reaching out. Even thought it’s still chilly out (OK, possibly freezing), people are beginning to go stir-crazy and are more willing to meet for coffee or a drink. So yes, we know this isn’t your favorite, but we’re here to tell you that it’s easier than you think!

1. Network Where You Work

Yes, that’s right, you can network in your own office—and it’ll even make you a more recognized employee.

The Super Obvious Networking Opportunity You May Be Overlooking

2. Ask a Stranger for Help

Asking a stranger for help may seem awkward, but it’s not when you personalize it. Hint: Kindness goes a long way and is more likely to render a response.

The Simple Change That’ll Make Asking a Stranger for Help Much More Successful

3. Write Great Subject Lines

You’d be surprised how three or four words can make all the difference as to whether or not people open your emails. Here are some templates to get you started on crafting the perfect one, so you can get even more networking meetings.

Here Are the Subject Lines That’ll Get Your Networking Emails Opened—Every Time

April: Become a Better Co-worker

As the snow and ice melts, there’s no better time to thaw your co-worker relationships, improve your sociability, and ultimately impress your boss. Your office interactions, whether in a new or old job, can make all the difference in how you feel coming into work every day.

1. Pick Up Key Skills

Here are six things you should start working on today to be more successful working with others—and yourself on bad days.

6 Life Skills You Better Pick Up if You Want to Succeed at Work

2. Ask Questions

You’re no mind reader, so don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues questions! You may make someone’s day (and save yourself a lot less work).

4 Basic Questions Likable People Always Ask at Work

3. Be Aware of How You Phrase Things

Catching yourself when you might be coming across as judge-y, passive-aggressive, or rude is the first step to becoming a more pleasant person to work with.

3 Times You Think You’re Being Nice—But You Actually Just Sound Passive-Aggressive

May: Increase Your Productivity

Now that you can roll up your sleeves without shivering, it’s time to buckle down. Summer’s approaching, and you want to revamp your routine for a productive next couple of months—especially when all you really want to do is lay outside in the sun.

1. Learn How to Use Your Time Wisely

Slow days at work aren’t for surfing the internet or playing paper basketball with your co-workers. Make every minute count—you may even get ahead so you can enjoy your weekends later!

This Is How You Take Advantage of a Slow Day at Work

2. Change Up Your Routine to Find the Most Productive One Possible

Turns out that your regular schedule and habits might actually be slowing you down.

5 Boss-Approved Changes to Make to Your Work Routine That’ll Boost Your Productivity

3. Download a New Productivity App

Who says you can’t have some help from technology? A new app can help you live productively, from eating healthier to being more punctual.

26 Apps Designed to Make Your Life Easier (You Can Thank Us Later)

June: Focus on Work-Life Balance

You worked hard last month, so June is your time to relax and focus on healthy living and learning. Just because you have to work in the summer doesn’t mean it has to be all that bad—or that you can’t give yourself some “me” time.

1. Stop Working So Hard

First, recognize when you’re working too hard and need to stop. It’s possible to thrive at work without staying in the office until 8 PM every night.

3 Reasons You Work Too Much—and How to Overcome Each One

2. Take Time Off to Relax and Regroup

It is in fact possible to take time off without “taking time off.” And your boss will love these alternatives!

3 Boss-Approved Trips That’ll Help You Break Out of Your Work Rut (and Don’t Involve Taking Vacation Days)

3. Make Sure You Leave Work at Work

Don’t give away your weekends—you deserve them. Plan ahead, take breaks, and be willing to unplug at times.

3 Ways to Ensure You’ll Always Have the Weekend Off

July: Boost Your Confidence

July’s a delightful time of year for most people, so take advantage of the positive energy by working on yourself.

1. Read, Read, Read

One way to learn how to be more confident? Read leadership books from people who know what they’re talking about.

The 10 Books That’ll Bring Out the Leader in Everyone Who Reads Them

2. Stop Seeking Outside Approval

Stop letting others get to you. It’s your life and your job, and no one knows it better than you do.

5 Reasons You Should Stop Seeking Other People’s Approval for Your Career Choices

3. Practice Positive Self-Encouragement

Most importantly, be nicer to yourself! Speak up, take on challenges, and have confidence in your own ideas.

4 Ways You’re Being Way Too Hard on Yourself (and How to Stop)

August: Get Prepared to End the Year on a High Note

As fall approaches, it’s time to set goals for the rest of the year. What haven’t you accomplished yet? What are you still struggling to work on? The leaves haven’t even started to change color yet, so now’s your chance to tackle those things that are still pestering you.

1. Find an Approach to Accomplishing Things That’ll Work

Rather than push yourself to do something huge, challenge yourself to knock a few smaller items off your list.

The Easiest Way to Achieve Your Daily Goals

2. Add Emotion to Your To-Dos

The best kept secret about to-do lists? Make them emotional. No really, I swear by it.

A Mind-Blowing New Way to Think About Your To-Do List

3. Get Organized

Once you get the list-making down, try organizing your to-dos by category (and by importance)—this way, you’ll get things done faster and more efficiently.

3 Better Ways to Organize Your To-Do List

September: Break Bad Habits

It’s never too late to break those bad habits, and when better to do it than September? The weather’s cooling down, and work is starting to re-energize, so now’s the time to develop new routines that’ll make you that much more productive when the holidays roll around.

1. Recognize Your Less-Than-Ideal Office Behavior

If you’re not sure what your bad habits are, try checking these five off your list: saying sorry when you’re not, hogging the conversation, setting up unnecessary meetings, acting like a work robot, or venting unproductively.

5 Bad Habits That Are Holding You Back in the Office—and How to Put an End to Them

2. Drop the Negative Language

Learn how to talk with confidence—you’d be surprised how much more respect you get from your co-workers.

Drop These 5 Words if You Want to Be Taken More Seriously at Work

3. Replace the Bad With the Good

And finally, replace those bad habits you dropped with some new ones that’ll make you an even better professional.

4 Habits You Should Pick Up if You Want to Be Well-Liked at Work

October: Learn Something New

Bored at work? Feeling a bit stuck? Try taking up a new skill or project that’ll boost your current career or even qualify you for another path in the future.

1. Take an Online Course

You don’t need to go back to school to learn something new—it’s all in the palm of your hand (or on your laptop).

45 Free Online Classes You Can Take (and Finish) by the End of This Year

2. Learn the Latest Tech

You don’t have to learn every new tech skill that comes into existence, but you should keep yours up-to-date. So why not pick up a new one (or two) this month?

7 Tech Tools You Can Definitely Teach Yourself to Use Before the End of the Year

3. Watch TED Talks

Listening to TED talks is one of the best ways to learn something new and valuable without wasting too much time, and thanks to the internet, there are more than you can possibly imagine.

5 TED Talks That’ll Inspire You to Innovate Like Never Before

November: Update Your Social Media

Everything’s starting to come together, and now we’re going to focus on an important part of your personal brand: your online presence. Here are some tips for how to keep your social media sharp in November (and hopefully for months after this one).

1. Write a Better LinkedIn Summary

Your profile’s the first stop for people who don’t know you. So why not make it clear exactly who you are?

5 Templates That’ll Make Writing the Perfect LinkedIn Summary a Breeze

2. Network on Twitter

Next is Twitter—did you ever think about networking there? Well, turns out, it’s actually a lot easier than it looks.

3 Easy Ways to Up Your Twitter Networking Game and Start Racking Up the Connections

3. Consider Making a Personal Website

One of the best things you can do for your online presence is to create your own site: a hub for all of your work and social profiles. And before you panic, we’ve got a game plan that will help you get a single-page site up in an hour.

The Fun, One-Hour Activity That Will Help You Land Your Dream Job

December: Get the Most Out of the Holidays

You’ve worked hard, and the year’s almost over, so congrats! December is your time to relax and enjoy the holidays. But while you’re at it, here are three ways to get the most out of this month (that have nothing to do with buying presents or eating a lot of home-cooked food).

1. Take Baby Steps Toward a Better Career

These career-boosting ideas are easy-peasy, and we promise they won’t take away from the holiday fun.

20 Career-Boosting Steps You Can Take Before New Year’s Eve

2. Write Thank-You Notes to Your Colleagues

The holidays are all about giving, so try giving thanks to all the people who have made your year great, whether it’s your boss, your co-workers, or an old connection.

The 9 Holiday Cards You Need to Send to Your Network—and What to Write in Each One

3. Download More Awesome Productivity Apps

And when work is bumming your holiday spirit, here are nine apps that’ll keep you productive, yet sane.

9 Apps That’ll Make Working During the Holidays as Pain-Free as Possible

Think you can handle it? Tweet me your best month!

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