Pick career resolutions you can actually keep this year.
New Year's resolutions are often counterproductive
You see January 1st coming, and you think, now's a great time for a fresh start. Now's the time I'm finally going to do that thing I've been meaning to do all of last year! (And the year before that, and the year before that…)
Plus, everyone else is also in on this resolutions thing, and they're going to ask you about yours at the upcoming New Year's Eve party. You better have an answer ready, right?
You choose a resolution that sounds great like “losing 20 pounds” or “paying off all my debt”, something that will require you to make big, tough changes to your lifestyle, because if you're going to shoot, may as well shoot for the moon…
You take a few stabs at it, but it's not easy – it wasn't supposed to be – and life intervenes, and then you start hitting the same obstacles you've hit in the past. The resolution gets set aside, time goes by… and all of a sudden, it's December and time to make New Year's resolutions all over again.
Don't pay for over-reaching by getting frustrated and depressed.
Instead, first aim low so you can build momentum. Baby steps don't sound as sexy, but people will admire you more when they see you actually kept your easier-to-keep resolutions, and you'll feel a lot better about yourself.
Your new-found confidence will let you aim higher moving forward, this year or next.
The Best Article on New Year's Career Resolutions for Job Seekers
I'm not big on New Year's resolutions for myself.
If I want to make a change – there's always something to improve – I try to get started on it asap. The time of year makes no difference.
But many people do care. I get that. And it usually is more fun to do something that others are doing too, and to talk about it over dinner and drinks at a party.
So I took a look around to see what kinds of career resolutions other experts are blogging about, such as the authors of the Top Job Search Articles of 2019.
Let's take a look what you can pick and choose from.
16 Career resolutions that don't suck
1. I promise not to apply for positions I am definitely not qualified for.
This seems like an easy resolution to keep, because it's about doing less work. But you know how easy it is to just keep applying to as many jobs as possible, especially when you feel like your job search isn't moving forward quickly enough.
That temptation is hard to resist.
The reality is that one of the main reasons you're not getting interview invites is because you're simply not a good fit for the position.
Save yourself a lot of headaches by targeting companies early.
2. I will work on building relationships with my recruiter by helping him/her as much as they help me.
I'm not surprised Jeff, being a recruiter, would recommend this.
Many job seekers have a hate/hate relationship with recruiters until they're actually helped by one, at which point the recruiter becomes the greatest person ever, and then the job seeker completely forgets about them until their next job search.
So thinks the recruiter.
The irony is recruiters might just need you more than you need them.
A recruiter might place you in a new job you'll have for a few years, but they're always on the lookout for new clients with openings to fill, and new candidates to fill those openings with.
Resolve to connect with a few local recruiters in your space, and keep in touch like Jeff says. Help them and they'll help you when you need it.
3. I will meet (on the phone or in person) three new people a week who can help me with my job search.
Meeting new people every week opens you up to new leads, new opportunities and new ideas. Piggyback on the previous career resolution by including recruiters in your list.
4. I will learn to leverage Social Media as a vehicle for communicating about myself, and not just as a distraction for hours chatting with new friends.
Where do the experts and influencers in your industry hang out on social media?
Pick the influencers' most popular social network and then start growing a presence on it where you discuss advice, hot topics, industry news and whatever else the influencers discuss. Share your expertise as much as possible and people will notice.
5. I will not assume a person cannot help me find a job. They may know a great contact I need to meet.
You never know where your next job will come from.
And you never will, if you keep your job search to yourself. Talk to neighbors, parents at your kids' school, taxi drivers. Cast your net as wide as possible, as I said in 37 Ways to Meet People Who Can Refer You to Jobs.
6. I will set up informal discussions with decision-makers/hiring managers even if they are not hiring right now. They may be hiring soon.
Busy people need a reason to make time in their schedule, and they're not going to invite you into their office if they suspect you just want to ask for a job.
Instead, line up information interviews by looking for people who would be interested in hearing your expertise.
For example, I once coached a job seeker to meet the vice-president of a large company over drinks. He was curious about her experience with a certain technology his company was considering, and she as a foreigner wanted to learn about the local industry.
You could also aim to meet someone on the sidelines of a local conference or networking event for even as little as 15 minutes.
7. I will consider that my resume may not be as good as it could be and seek advice.
Employed or not, get second opinions about your resume. (A good excuse is to ask them to proofread it). In particular, aim for people in your industry and best yet, people at companies you'd like to work for i.e. people whose resumes have gotten them jobs at companies you'd like to work for.
There are many experts who provide free resume reviews too.
8. I will acknowledge that I may not be an interviewing pro. Especially if I’ve interviewed a lot and have not landed a job. I will seek professional advice.
Here are 50 Career Coaches Who Give Free Consults On Every Topic You Need, including interviewing.
9. I will consider my job search to be a full time job and will dedicate the appropriate amount of time for it. And prioritize it ahead of TV and computer games.
Job search is a full-time job, but that doesn't mean you should spend 8 hours a day sending in job applications.
Schedule your time with a calendar, just like you would at work, to cover all your job search-related activities: company research, networking, applying, interview preparation, going to interviews, followups, etc.
10. I will build a plan for my job hunt by outlining resources to research and key people to contact. I will create a schedule, too. Milestones and goals are important.
This dovetails with the previous resolution, but keep it simple.
Don't overthink your plan. Your job search doesn't need to be months on end, but you really can make your life easier by thinking ahead and trying to do things in the right order. Such as researching companies early on, and not at the last minute before you need to decide on a job offer.
Planning with goals are how to keep your career resolutions:
11. When I get discouraged, I will share my concerns with a few trusted friends who can offer good advice (instead of giving up hope).
Having a support group is so underrated for job seekers, where your lost self-confidence is such a common problem. Make sure you have a few people who will be honest but encouraging. There will be more obstacles in your job search, and not just the ones that make New Year's resolutions hard to keep.
12. If unemployed, I will volunteer. I will make good use of my time by meeting new people and creating substance for a discussion on “what I’ve been up to recently.” I will make a difference when many can use my assistance.
Volunteering with your expertise is a great way to “stay on top of industry trends, and find out early which companies are about to start hiring” as I said in 61 Hidden Job Market Secrets Without Using Social Media. It will also keep your confidence up, and keep you sharp if you can practice your skills regularly. Other volunteers or contributors may even be able to refer you to your next employer.
13. Read. Learn. Teach. I will educate myself or others on a subject-matter than is pertinent to my profession.
Take advantage of the fact that many employees are under-trained and unable to keep their skills current due to their workload, and that includes employed job seekers.
Spend up to half your full-time job search by improving your skills and building new ones that will make you a more valuable candidate and open you to new roles and possibilities that are currently in demand. Then, show off your new and improved skills.
14. I will consider exercise to be a good stress-reliever and pick a program I will enjoy (not necessarily bring the fastest results).
I'll give you 10 Mighty Reasons to Exercise During Your Daily Job Search. And then I'll give you 10 more.
15. I will think about what I liked and disliked in previous jobs and develop the ultimate job description. I will use this to give my search focus and meaning.
You're impatient. You want to start working in a great job asap, and end the job search uncertainly already, whether you started looking yesterday or 3 months ago.
Too often, being impatient leads to short cuts or just missed steps, like properly choosing your focus as Jeff suggests.
A focused job search is better in every way, and the more focused, the easier it is to judge when something will take you off track.
16. I will consider new industries and career paths, but I will research the likelihood of being able to make that switch easily.
With so many people hating their jobs and so many others like you almost wishing they had a job to hate, a career change might be the ticket to make things better. All too often though, job seekers aim for new careers they're barely qualified for (if at all) but are then surprised when they get few-to-no interview invites (see resolution #1 above).
Jeff hits the nail on the head when he cautions you to check the water temperature before you jump in the pool. You should be able to save yourself from a lot of suffering later.
Question of the article
What's your job search New Year's resolution for 2020? Which of Jeff's resolutions make the most sense for you? Tell us in the comments.
What other bloggers are saying
- Four Simple Career Resolutions for 2020
- 2020 New Year's Resolutions for Your Career
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- 10 Great New Year’s Resolutions for Job Seekers
- Do you have a New Year resolution for a new career?
- Career Audit – End of the Year Job-Search & Career Strategies