Assess your future to start the year


By Hannah Morgan, Contributor

Whether you are considering a transition inside your company or a move to a new company, these are things you should do to kick off the new year and get your career moving in the right direction.

Know what you want. When you know who you are and what is most important to you, it helps you identify the next move. Take time to re-evaluate and write down your values, the skills you most enjoy using, the successes you've had and what you want to do next. Now begin reviewing job postings to see if you have the skills and experience necessary for the positions you're interested in. You may not have everything, few do, but if you have 80 percent of the requirements, you're in good shape.

Want a promotion? Assess the potential for movement within your company. Do people move around within the company? How long has your manager been in his position? Are there changes he is likely to make in the next year? How did the last person who was promoted get from job A to job B? If you determine that movement within your current company is nonexistent or very slow, you may need to begin exploring options with competitors or companies that do similar work. Make a list of target companies that could potentially hire you for the role you are interested in. Then look for events where you can network with employees from these companies. Also watch for news about new contracts, buyouts, mergers and promotions. These changes can mean potential new opportunities for you.

Update your career materials. With your new vision and goals defined, update your LinkedIn profile, resume and pitch. All three of these need to include the same message. You want to make sure to highlight the keywords mentioned in the job descriptions you read. Pay special attention to processes and procedures, technology and other hard skills that recruiters will search for.

Meet the right new people. If you don't already know decision-makers in your company, now is a good time to meet them, either formally or informally. Also, meet with people who hold the job you are interested in so you can learn about what it takes to succeed in the role. These informational meetings will help you identify any gaps in skills or knowledge plus you now have a connection to someone who can serve as an advocate. It is your responsibility to keep in touch with all these people throughout the coming months so they'll keep you in mind for new opportunities that may develop.

Become a specialist. Learn everything you possibly can about your ideal job. Your mission is to become a subject matter expert or specialist. Build time into your schedule to read industry publications and news related to your area of interest. Attend industry conferences, Meetups and other events that give you access to industry experts or people who specialize in the area you're interested in. Find out how they keep up with trends and be sure to keep in touch.

Gain some good PR. You will need some good publicity in order to position yourself for a promotion or move outside your company. Merely doing your job isn't good enough. The right people have to know about the work you've done. The person who got the promotion wasn't necessarily the most qualified. So what was the secret? The person who won the promotion had an advocate, was well-liked, had a track record of success or was better at selling their abilities. Be sure you let your manager know about your success throughout the year, but don't rely on them to be your only advocate. Enlist the help of other people you've met and engage in some healthy self-promotion. Look for opportunities to talk or present at industry events, write articles, speak on panels, get interviewed on a podcast or start your own blog or community.

Honor your goals. Now is the time to develop laser focus. Don't overcommit or take on any random assignment. Be strategic. Seek out projects or tasks that will help you reach your next job. These assignments should help you develop or enhance skills you need for your next role. And if you are asked to take on extra work that doesn't fit your goals, turn it down politely but firmly.

Be persistent and patient. Don't expect immediate results. It takes time to make some of these things happen. Be persistent and don't lose hope. Keep taking actions that will get you to the next step in your career.

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