The new year is always a big time of reflection. Telephones ring and emails ping as clients old and new reach out to discuss their 2011 career resolutions. After all, new year, new you! Yet, this year, given the economic climate, I’ve observed a different energy with clients.
From a career perspective, did you start January with a burst of energy or do you feel like you have a hangover without the benefits of a party? Fear and a couple of years of living in survival mode have impacted many professionals more deeply than they care to admit. If you’ve survived a layoff, mobilized quickly to secure a job, or are still actively searching, you’ve expended a tremendous amount of personal and professional energy. This energy is both emotional and also physical, reflected in long hours and extra work.
If you were fortunate to get a promotion, it may have had strings attached. That step forward may not have included back-filling the old position--essentially you received a great new promotion to do two jobs. What a deal!
Also, it’s likely your team and resources were cut, but expectations weren’t--so many professionals have been working incredible hours just to tread water. Coaching clients are tired and in some cases just plain numb from all the change.
Making a career change – big or small – takes a great deal of positive energy. Feel you need a change, but wonder if you have the energy to move forward? I offer a few additions to your new year’s resolution list.
1. Start the year with a simple career conversation. Schedule an uninterrupted career reflection session with a trusted friend, mentor, or career coach. Have an honest conversation (not a complaint fest) and assess if your career really meets your needs. If not, think about how long you can maintain the status quo until stress, frustration, or boredom attacks your ability to succeed. How long can you deny your needs before unhealthy emotions emerge?
2. Create a simple career action plan and put it in writing. Use your reflection time to assess what you can and can’t do this year to get your career where you want to be. Set actionable goals you can achieve given your time and resources.
3. Schedule a meeting with yourself each week to work on your career and treat yourself like an important client. It’s way too easy to put off your needs. Denial and avoidance are readily available to all of us. If your career is not important to you, I can guarantee it won’t be important to anyone else.
4. Get a professional resume makeover. Update your resume. If it feels daunting, attend a resume workshop, or hire a coach or resume writer to help. Just having a current resume that you are proud of can help you reconnect with your career strengths and find inspiration.
5. Spruce up your LinkedIn profile. If you don’t have one, create one. LinkedIn is your professional calling card and one of today’s top recruiting tools. Look at those you admire and think about how you might like to be perceived. Reach out and connect with people (former bosses, co-workers, colleagues) you know just to say hello. Your best advocates and referral sources may be only a click away.
6. Join an interesting LinkedIn group and contribute to it. Follow a discussion, add a comment, or provide a resource at least once a month. You’ll learn something and might be pleasantly surprised to know people may value what you have to say.
7. Commit to learning one new thing each month. It can be a one-hour webinar, a new book, or an internal class. If you feel stagnant and your company’s development budget is nonexistent, don’t let that stop your development. Learning will create new energy.
8. Join an industry association. At minimum attend a monthly meeting. Just being with other industry professionals can be an energy boost. After all, associations are usually geared to help with education and often have rich career resources.
9. Make one new career connection a week. It might be a colleague from another department, a fellow alumnus in your field of interest, an association professional, a friend of a friend, or a community connection through your child’s school, or your social group. But one new connection a week adds up to 52 new connections in a year. Just getting to know people and hear what’s happening in their career lives and their organizations may uncover an opportunity or spur some new career thinking.
10. Recruit a career change partner. Accountability and reinforcement are keys to moving forward. If you have clarity and just need energy, ask a trusted friend or mentor to hold you accountable for taking action. Hire a career coach or join a career group to help you bust through whatever obstacles are holding you back.
Regardless of where the market is and what you may perceive as barriers, at some point you need to rejuvenate and find the courage to get your career on your own terms. Is 2011 your year?
The EAA’s Executive Career Coach Jodie Charlop 82Ox 85C, founder and chief coaching officer for Potential Matters, specializes in working with individuals and organizations that want to achieve higher levels of personal and professional results in their business, careers, or lives.