I talk about the blog and brand success I had in just a year more often than I’m sure you all would like to hear, but what I fail to highlight is 2016 was also a great year for me in my career. It was my second full-year being at my current company and I was not only intentional with what I wanted to accomplish, but I was also very clear with what I wanted in return. The past year taught me the true meaning of working smarter and not harder, using your time efficiently and not biting off more than I could chew.
A new year comes with a force of motivation that can become difficult to find any other month of the year, which is why we use it to set fitness, travel and personal goals. Why do we overlook one of the most important factors in our life? Our professions. If you’re anything like me, you spend 40+ hours a week with your personal desires on the back burner to build a career. Now is the perfect time to evaluate how you can make the most out of your work year.
Train for your promotion
I was lucky enough to warrant a promotion at the end of last year, but trust me it was well earned. It wasn’t something that fell into my lap either, and honestly they never do. My promotion was a result of hard work and verbal requests. I have a boss who treats me like a sister, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have to request time to sit down with her and express what I wanted and what it was going to take for me to get it. It also doesn’t mean that she told me yes, but it was my obligation to let her know what I felt I deserved and what I was willing to do in order to earn it. Realistically, I trained for my promotion by doing tasks that weren’t necessarily my role for months prior to being granted my increase. If there was anything that was hindering my development, I worked overtime to fill the gaps. Communicate with your supervisor, commit to the necessary actions and follow-up by asking for feedback.
Create your professional support team
Your career growth is greatly dependent on the relationships you build with those professionals who are willing to advocate for you. Give you “straight talk” advice, write you a letter of recommendation or suggest you for positions they think you’d be a good fit for. My boss has been this person for me and I’m incredibly grateful, but that hasn’t stopped me from keeping in touch with the people I’ve connected with previously that helped me get to this point or reach out to new individuals I admire. I love to look for people in my ideal positions at my dream companies and send them LinkedIn invitations. I want to get to know people I can learn from and don’t want to wait until I need something to reach out to them.
Track your progress
I find this especially helpful when it’s time to have your annual review. When you’re moving as quickly as I do, it’s very difficult to remember what you did last week, let alone six months ago. I print emails where clients and coworkers compliment my work, as well as log major accomplishments or improvements I implemented into any of our processes or collateral. Aside from being able to quickly refer to all the things I’ve done, this helps me keep the bigger picture in mind and reminds me that I’m in the drivers seat of my career.
Make your mornings more productive
I’m not a morning person, or an afternoon, or evening person. Everything I do around here I’ve got to force. On top of adding a workout into my mornings, I switched listening to music out for Podcasts or Audiobooks to get my thought process going. I use my time in traffic to double-check my to-do lists and if we’re being honest, put on my mascara. If I can accomplish it before sitting down at my desk, I’m already ahead of the curve.
Develop your leadership skills
Because at some point in your career, you will want to be one. If anything, you’re already the leader of your own life. The three books that helped me immensely are The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Find things in your position that you can take ownership of and make you feel proud to do good work.
Update your LinkedIn profile
I got my job simply by applying and being selected to interview, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in LinkedIn. Whoever you ask in HR, whether they’re director, recruiter or a headhunter, which is the best way to search a job, they’ll say through networking – which is exactly what social media is for, correct? And the best social media networking tool for the professionals is the LinkedIn. 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn, which is why you should be spending time maneuvering the site if you’re looking for job opportunities.
Try new job searching strategies
I was advised by a colleague who recently landed her dream job to reverse her job search strategy. I found my job through Indeed.com but we all know that job search sites can be bottomless pits. Instead of searching for jobs and applying endless hoping to get called back, she narrowed in on the companies she actually wanted to work for and stayed on top of their job openings. She even went as far as to reaching out to the appropriate HR contact with her resume just to get her name in front of them.