15 Ways to Advance Your Career in 2015
The holidays are a time to recharge and reflect on the year, and think about your goals for the next twelve months. Setting career goals doesn’t have to mean a list of forgettable New Year’s resolutions—there are simple, concrete steps you can take to achieve what you want. We’ll take you through some of them.
Reflect on the past year
Take the time to think about your successes as well as your mistakes—what you did well may have as much to teach you as what went wrong. If you set goals for 2014, ask yourself how you tracked against them.
Set concrete, measurable goals for the new year
Goals are critical. Set long-term goals for where you want to be, as well as shorter-term goals that will help you get there. Don’t make your list too long or unrealistic, but do set stretch goals—goals that challenge you to put in extra effort.
It’s important to make your goals measurable, so you know what steps to take to achieve them. “Significantly raise my profile” is vague, whereas “Raise my external profile by making 10 new contacts and writing a blog post each quarter” is concrete. A supportive boss or HR manager will be able to help you set and frame realistic goals.
Find or cultivate a mentor
A mentor is an experienced, trusted person you can turn to for advice on career development and help you solve problems. It may be someone you work with, but doesn’t have to be. If you have a mentor, try to schedule regular meetings—and if not, find one.
Seek feedback throughout your workplace
Many workplaces give 360° feedback, where people who work alongside you offer feedback on your performance. Even if your workplace doesn’t do that, there’s no reason why you can’t ask the people around you how you’re doing, and how you can improve.
Fix your workspace
Start with your physical workspace: is clutter making you less efficient? If you work at a desk, is it set up properly? Also think about your virtual workspace: if you spend too much time dealing with email, there are plenty of ways to make yourself more efficient.
Break your worst work habit
If you’re a procrastinator, find a smart strategy to tackle those jobs you keep putting off. Do them right away, when you have the most energy, or give yourself a reward for doing them. Whatever you do, don’t just make a resolution—change how you work.
Take on a new internal project
Build credibility in the workplace by volunteering to help out with a project, like planning a volunteering event or an office party. If people see you doing something well, they’ll get to know and trust you—and that will help when it comes to resourcing the next important job.
Be proactive about training
Training isn’t just about degrees and qualifications. Your workplace might have internal courses. Consider taking a short course in a transferable skill, like negotiation. Any training you can put on your CV will help to differentiate you.
Revisit your LinkedIn profile
In one 2014 survey, 94% of recruiters said they used LinkedIn to fill positions. If your profile is out of date, you’re probably missing out on opportunities. At a minimum, your profile should have a compelling summary and show all your work experience and skills. Reach out to new contacts regularly and ask people to endorse or recommend you.
Network, Network, Network
It is never a waste of time to network, it’s not as hard as you might think, and you probably do it already. Catching up for coffee with a friend who works in your field helps to maintain your network. So does going to an event put on by a professional association. Sites like Treatings offer the chance to meet people who are actively interested in growing their networks. Keep track of your networking and be thoughtful about it.
Write a blog post or article about your work
Write a piece that shows your expertise to your customers and the world. You might be able to write for your company website, or post on LinkedIn or as a guest poster for a blog. There’s no need to sell yourself too aggressively—great content will advertise you better than a sales pitch.
Find new professional resources
Find a new resource—it could be a magazine, a website, a podcast or a blog—that yields new insights into your industry, and read it regularly.
It’s deeply worthwhile and rewarding to give back. You can volunteer your skills as well as your time: organizations like Catchafire can help match your talents to charities in need. If you have leadership aspirations, you may be able to join a nonprofit committee or board. And volunteering can help you too: one study found volunteers were 27% more likely to find a job than non-volunteers.
Check what other jobs are out there
Even if you’re happy in your work now, see what jobs are being advertised in your industry. You’ll be able to see trends and position yourself for your next career move.
Check your progress
Don’t wait until next December to check how you’re going! Set reminders every few months throughout the year to track your progress.
We hope these ideas help you to have a fulfilling and successful 2015! In the meantime, browse our career pages to find the career that’s right for you.