Whether you are looking for a new job or you want to move up the corporate ladder, the start of the new year is an ideal time to take a fresh approach to your career.
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“Too many people make check lists for the new year and then quickly forget them,” says Patty Prosser, chair of consulting firm OI Partners. “Your career is a major part of building a fulfilling life. The best way to take advantage of opportunity is to create it.”
If getting a job is your top priority for 2014, Mark Jaffe, president of executive search firm Wyatt & Jaffe, says not to overlook smaller job offers that will help boost your confidence.
“Get on someone’s payroll. If you have to take a job at 7-Eleven7, do that. The worst thing people do when they are looking for a job is let themselves get engulfed in shame. If you have a job already, it becomes many multiples easier to find another job.”
Amanda Snow, manager of campus recruiting at PNC, says keeping your professional brand and online profile current should be a top goal in 2014. Not only should you update your resume with new and relevant skills, but she also recommends freshening up your social media pages. “See how and where you pop online,” says Snow. “Make sure everything is up to date.”
Your online pictures are just as important as what you say, adds Jaffe. He recommends having a professional picture on any networking sites like LinkedIn or Google+, not one of you in black-tie attire or with a drink in your hand.
“You need to look like somebody employable,” says Jaffe. “If someone has a weird picture on LinkedIn, it’s very off-putting. Not because someone is ugly or because they didn’t have a picture professionally done, it makes you question their judgment, maturity and their worldliness if they don’t understand they need a sober-looking and business-friendly picture.”
Even if you gainfully employed, strive to improve your salary or advance your career in 2014. Take the time to write down your career goals and come up with measurable ways to obtain them.
In addition, Prosser suggests being open to alternative employment opportunities in an improving economy. “There is increased demand for contract, freelance and part-time work. Position yourself to take advantage of these employment options,” she says.
Even if you love your job, resolve to upgrade your professional skills in the new year so you can move up within the company. That could mean taking classes, getting certificates, learning new technology or simply staying abreast of your industry. By upgrading your personal skills you are also committing to staying relevant and thus employable, says Prosser.