It's the end of 2016. And what an interesting year it's been – please join me in welcoming 2017!
Many people use the new calendar year to mark a new beginning. If boosting your career is part of your agenda, here are X strategies you can use to position yourself for a promotion, or get that new job you've wanted.
1. Maximize Your Annual Performance Appraisal. Most employers do performance evaluations in the beginning of the year. Come prepared with your list of accomplishments. Quantify the value you've brought the company. If you're angling for a promotion, a strong performance appraisal is essential. Go in with your eyes open - if you're surprised by what you hear from your manager during your review, you haven't truly been paying attention to feedback throughout the year. If there are any development opportunities identified during the review, own them and discuss how you have worked to overcome them and plan to correct them going forward.
2. Create An Individual Development Plan (IDP). An IDP is a tool to help you in your personal development. Prepared in conjunction with your manager, it documents your strengths, your weaknesses, and your career goals, explores career possibilities, identifies training opportunities, and provides you with a road map how you plan to get there. Preparing and adhering to an IDP also serves the critical function of reinforcing to your organization's leadership your commitment to your professional development. It's also a good opportunity to ask yourself if you really want a promotion and all the headaches which accompany it. Also, here some specific strategies you can follow to prepare yourself for that promotion.
3. Find A Mentor. It can be helpful to find somebody inside or outside your company who has achieved career-wise what you are looking to do. A good mentor is helpful because they aren't typically your manager (so you can be freer to discuss concerns and personal areas of development) and they can provide you an outside perspective as well as helpful guidance.
4. Benchmark Your Skill Set. It's helpful to know what the job market looks like for professionals such as yourself. Check out the job listings on LinkedIn and Indeed. Take a look at what you could earn with another employer by using salary data on Salary.com or Paysa. You might find out that your current employer is compensating you quite well and above market averages; or, not so much. Do you know some agency recruiters (i.e., headhunters) who work in your field? Pick their brains about the job market, too.
5. Get Your Resume In Shape. It doesn't matter whether or not you're planning to leave your current company. Even if you're applying for an internal opportunity at your employer, or you've been tapped to interview for a promotion, you'll need a resume which reflects your accomplishments and personal growth, and is strategically targeted for the job you're hoping to get. Here are 6 things you can do to strengthen your resume today.
6. Polish Your Interviewing Skills. Again, even if you have no intention of leaving your company, it's become increasingly common to have employees interview with their own organization's leaders if they're being considered for an internal move or a promotion. Learn as much as you can about behavioral interviewing - that's when an interviewer asks you about how you've dealt with a difficult situation in the past to get an idea about how you would handle it in the future. Here are some additional ways to make the interview work for you.
7. Network. Your reputation is only as good as what people hear, and if they're not hearing anything about you, then you really don't have a reputation to speak of. Join the board of the local chapter of your professional trade group. Volunteer with a nonprofit. Attend those college alumni events. You don't necessarily need to work a room to get noticed, either. Often, familiarity breeds awareness of your career and your skills, and you'll often find that people will keep you in mind and recommend you if they hear of any appropriate job opportunities. And yes, connecting and engaging with your peers on LinkedIn certainly counts as networking. Want to get noticed on LinkedIn? Here are some tips.
8. Keep Learning. Considering how quickly the required skills are changing due to technological advances, it's lethal to stop upgrading your skills. Take classes through your trade group. Go back for your Master's degree. Take a course on Coursera or LinkedIn Learning. If you don't know the essential emerging technology in your field, it's guaranteed that somebody else will know it – and they'll be a more desirable job candidate. All other factors being equal, skills trump all.
9. Dress The Part. Your appearance speaks volumes. People perceive your professionalism through your attire. Take the opportunity to upgrade your wardrobe, and reinforce your manager's and your peers' positive impression of you. It might be time to put the jeans away, and wear a nice pair of slacks.
Here's to a prosperous 2017!
Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.