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Ten Ways You Can Improve Your Career in the Coming Year: Take Action to Make Your Career Happen

With 2017 well underway, you may be feeling a renewed sense of energy and optimism. If you’re ready to take on the year with gusto and grow your career, you can get started immediately. Instead of dreaming about the career you want, make it happen with these tips for investing in yourself, building your personal brand, and taking action to improve your career in the coming year.

Take Measure

Assess your career in 2016 as well as your job performance. Are there areas of weakness or opportunities for improvement? Of course there are! Pursue training in those exact areas. Invest in yourself and your long-term career growth by keeping a teachable mindset and being a lifelong learner. Employers will take note of your enthusiasm and effort to learn, grow, and improve processes.

Be Ready to Grow

Change is the only sure thing in life, so you must be able to keep up with what’s happening in your industry. Janet Lenz, Program Director at the Florida State University Career Center and Past President of The National Career Development Association, said in order to grow your career, you must be able to demonstrate continued professional growth.

“Employers are generally looking for people who are current with the skills and qualifications in their field,” said Lenz.

Growth requires that you acquire new skills. You can learn on the job, return to school, attend a professional seminar, or plug into webinars regarding your field.

Planning, Execution & Happenstance

As part of your assessment, determine what it is that you want when it comes to your career. Experts advise that you identify specific career goals and write them down as this makes it easier to focus on accomplishing them. With a crystal-clear idea of what it is that you want, it becomes much easier to plan for success and execute that plan.

Lenz said that while planning is good, everyone should be prepared for opportunity when it comes knocking.

“Having a plan makes things easier, but the idea of happenstance never goes away,” added Lenz. “People will run into new opportunities that they never thought about before. Just as you might have a financial plan, things happen, both good and bad. It’s the same in your career. When something does happen, you need to be poised to take advantage of that opportunity.”

Build & Expand Your Network

The world is becoming more globalized each day, and all of us are interconnected. Those connections can be a hotbed of career opportunities. Research shows more than 50 percent of candidates discover career opportunities through their network.

Begin building your network by setting aside time to meet with people who share the same interests such as respected colleagues. Reach out through social media, emails, and phone calls to others in your industry. Employ traditional networking methods such as joining professional organizations or simply meeting someone for a cup of coffee. In addition, be willing to share information about career openings and growth opportunities with others. This will make them more apt to help you when you need it.

Utilize Your Resources

Reach out to people in the career development industry who can advise and support you in your career growth. You can also check with your local university or community college to see if they offer career assistance. Talk to trusted colleagues or supervisors for advice and ask them if they would mind mentoring you as you grow in your career.

Develop Your Personal Brand

Figure out your personal brand now if you don’t already know what it is. Start by going to Reach Personal Branding online and taking a few of the branding assessments. The assessments will help you discover your brand attributes so you can tap into your network to see what others think about your personal brand. This will help you to better define your personal brand and market it when the time comes to pursue new opportunities.

Traditional means of branding yourself are also important, such as having a professional resume and developing an attractive portfolio of your work and experiences. Dressing professionally for interviews, industry events, and meetings is also important. Finally, you need to develop a confident persona. Be confident in the added value you have to offer an employer as that will show during interviews.

Stay Open to Possibilities

Are you passively open to new opportunities this year? It’s time to overhaul your LinkedIn profile so that it represents your personal brand, career story, accomplishments, and successes. Once your profile is ready, turn on LinkedIn’s newest feature, Open Candidate. It will confidentially alert recruiters who are signed up for the service that you are open to new opportunities—without the worry of it notifying your current company.

Follow the Leaders

Find and follow the best thought leaders in your industry, stay on top of current trends by reading what they publish, taking any courses or certifications they offer, and becoming a subject matter expert yourself. This is one of the best ways you can invest in your career and personal brand in 2017.

Keep a Positive Mindset

The best laid plans of mice and men go awry at times. As you work through your career, as in life, you’ll experience some disappointments. How you handle disappointments will either create success or lead to an attitude of doom and gloom. Expect to receive some “No’s” during your working life, but stay resilient and keep moving forward. Handle rough spots in the road by considering them opportunities to learn and move on. When you exude a positive attitude, you attract more opportunities.

If you need a boost, talk to others in your profession whom you trust. You may find out you’re not alone in your experience and they may have some valuable advice to share. Lenz also recommends reaching out to a job search support group or developing a one-on-one relationship with a career professional.

“Don’t feel you have to go it alone,” Lenz said. “Use available professional career resources. Find people who will help you maintain a positive attitude.”

Make a List & Celebrate

Each week, write down a list of small, manageable tasks you can tackle despite your busy schedule, such as adding one new piece to your LinkedIn profile or reaching out to someone new in your field. Check off each task as you complete it. When you have checked everything off of your list, celebrate by doing something nice for yourself.

I believe you deserve a career that brings you joy, fulfillment, and the ability to live your best life. If you’re having a hard time writing your resume or your current resume isn’t generating the response you’d hoped it would, reach out to me on LinkedIn or visit my website for help now.

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Jessica Holbrook Hernandez

A nationally recognized resume expert, Jessica Holbrook Hernandez is President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast and a former human resources manager and recruiter. Leveraging more than ten years’ experience directing hiring practices for Fortune 500 companies, Jessica's innovative and brand-driven resume development strategies have secured a 99.6% interview-winning success rate for her clients. As a global resume authority and trusted media source, Jessica has been featured and quoted numerous times throughout CNN.com, The Chicago Tribune, Monster.com, Local Job Network Radio, International Business Times, and more.
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