You're a month into 2017. Maybe you didn't bother to make a list of goals and plans for yourself for the new year--or maybe you did, and you've already forgotten them. Whichever is true, consider this your monthly reminder to reset the clock --whether you want a new job, or want to have a more satisfying experience right where you are. You've got 11 months to...
- Prioritize relationship-building
If you have a choice between eating at your desk or with a colleague, pick your colleague. If you have limited time for your job search today, don’t research companies or skim the classifieds; meet someone, make a call, or send a personalized email. Make conscious choices to prioritize activities and situations where you will make, expand or deepen connections. If the idea of networking makes you uncomfortable, think of it as making friends, building relationships, or getting out and about. People hire people, and you need to know more people and get known. As an experienced professional, you’ve met a lot of people over the years, so take advantage of your long, healthy list of contacts to rekindle.
See also: Lost Control of Your Career?
- Run your numbers
If you feel underpaid or undervalued, what is the going rate for what you do? What compensation, including specific components such as bonus, benefits, and perks, would make you satisfied? If you are unemployed, what does your cash position imply about how long you have for your search? Resolve to collect the data you need to understand your financial picture. As a career coach, the first thing I ask prospective clients about is their goals, but the second thing is timing and urgency, and this boils down to numbers. You need to plan your moves around whatever constraints you have and what resources are available to invest in your goals. In the later stages of life, you have multiple competing, expensive obligations. I have a parent to support, an older child about to enter college, and a retirement account that is still in recovery. My business moves absolutely need to take these commitments into account. Similarly, you need to balance your career decisions with a realistic look at your numbers.
- Prune ruthlessly
With decades of experience, you have more relationships, more experience, and more projects to detail than someone just starting out. You can’t maintain the same level of connection with everyone. You can’t include everything in your resume. You have to pick and choose what you do, who you spend your scarce time with, and what information you use to market yourself. Resolve this year to get clear about your career goals and focus only on those relationships, activities and branding that support your objectives. You can still be friendly with everybody but when it comes to your decisions about what events to attend or conferences to travel to or associations to join, be prepared to say no. Let a membership lapse. Unsubscribe to a newsletter list. Edit out your earliest experiences. Prune what is no longer relevant.
- Tame social media
In the spirit of cutting back, you may have to rethink your approach to social media. Some people spend too much time online, equating LinkedIn connections with actual relationships. Most solid relationships require offline communication as well, so you can’t expect to keep up with 500+ connections in a meaningful way. Maybe you joined Pinterest and Google+ as well, just to stay current, but if you’re not willing to be an expert and/or you don’t need this for your career, then trim your online activity. For experienced professionals who might have come to social media late, the reverse might be true, and you are not spending enough time on your online branding. Recruiters and employers pay attention to social media – that argument is settled. So you need to be active, but focus on it just enough to keep your profile accurate, updated and dynamic. Set aside regular reminders in your calendar now to update your status. But also set aside a time limit for casual surfing. Don’t forget to mix offline communication with your online activity, and tame the temptation to do too much.
See also: The New Rules for Career Happiness
- Learn something
Maybe you didn’t jump on the Pinterest bandwagon because you were intimidated by having to learn it. If something is not useful to your career goals or not otherwise of interest, then it’s okay to dismiss it (I just advocated pruning ruthlessly, after all!). But resolve to learn something and keep your skills fresh. One of the negative stereotypes of older professionals is that we are set in our ways and unwilling to try or learn new things. When you talk about a class you’re taking or a new skill you’re perfecting, you take that stereotype out of the picture. You embody the flexibility, risk-taking, challenge-seeking and other high energy attributes normally stereotyped to the young up-and-comer, and therefore you neutralize any perceived disadvantage.
- Choose decisiveness over accuracy
Unsure what to learn? Unsure which social media platforms to commit to? Unsure which connections to keep? Take your best guess now, and trust that you’ll refine it as more information comes to you. Taking action now in any direction, even the wrong one, will get you to your career goal faster than waiting for more accurate information or a “sign” that tells you what to do. I have seen many more careers derailed by indecision than a wrong decision. When you decide to do something, you get feedback, a reaction from the market (no response is still a reaction!), and new information with which you can make adjustments. When you just stick to the status quo, you get the results you’ve gotten to date. If you don’t have a job or have a career that no longer serves you, then you don’t want the results you’ve gotten to date, and you need to do something different. I would pick anything over nothing. Decide to decide.
What career moves will you make in the next year? What will you resolve to do differently?
Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a career expert with SixFigureStart®. She is a former recruiter in management consulting, financial services, media, technology, and pharma/ biotech.