We’re approaching the week when many businesses seem to pause each year. It’s traditional office holiday party week—and some offices may have real parties this year. More importantly, from a long-term career point of view, it’s time for end-of-year evaluations, bonuses, and in too many cases, layoffs.
In other words, this is a great week to take action. Here are a few things to think about doing right now:
- Catalog your accomplishments,
- Refresh your network of business and professional contacts,
- Beef up your education, and
- Set goals and plans for next year.
These are concrete career development steps to take now, whether you plan to seek a job in 2022, apply for a promotion, or even retain your current position. The ideas above will also help if you have taken a break during the Pandemic and plan on returning to the workforce next year.
Catalog your 2021 accomplishments.
The most useful thing you can do to advance your career in the next year is to document your accomplishments. It’s especially easy if you work for an organization that has an annual assessment or evaluation system. It is also relatively easy if you have your own business, or did freelance work during the Pandemic.
Employers that have annual assessment systems often ask employees to provide evidence of their achievements for the year to supervisors or department heads. Some employers make it even easier by asking supervisors to write-up accomplishments for their team. Regardless of whether you or your boss created the list of accomplishments, you have an important document to use in your next career move.
It is also a good time to compile your accomplishments if you are doing freelance work or have your own business. You will probably be compiling information to close your books or prepare for tax season, so it is also a good time to assess what you did to reduce costs, increase revenue, or both. What did you do that resulted in earning more money, gaining more or larger clients, etc.?
Your accomplishments, as discussed in a previous blog post, form the centerpiece of your resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letters, and talking points for your interviews. We have constructed major portions of highly successful client resumes from the client’s annual performance evaluations. (Click here for an example.)
So, take the opportunity to enumerate your accomplishments this year for your next promotion or job search campaign.
Refresh your network of business and professional contacts.
It’s time to look forward once you’ve documented your accomplishments for the past year. Take advantage of any holiday professional functions you have the opportunity to attend. Holiday functions may be the only opportunity you get to speak informally with leadership in your organization, industry, or profession. They will now know who you are when your resume or LinkedIn profile comes across their screen later in the year.
If you do not attend traditional holiday parties, lunches, or dinners, use the holiday as an opportunity to exchange online greetings with all your relevant LinkedIn connections. You can do this over the next few weeks rather than sending hundreds of messages at one time.
Given the labor shortage in many occupations, you may be surprised by the number of contacts that ask who you know that may be looking for work.
Beef up your education.
When I began career advising more than 20 years ago, we told clients that their most important education was a college degree. Anything else seemed to have little credibility with employers.
A recruiter told me last week he is finding that the college degree is not the only credential which makes a difference anymore. This is true for at least two reasons. First, industry certifications have increased in importance. Second, short-term courses add valuable keywords to your career marketing materials, especially your LinkedIn profile.
The recruiter told a group that he is receiving job orders specifying an industry certification as a requirement and a college degree listed as “preferred” instead of “required.” What this means is that, in some cases, you may want to make relevant certifications more prominent than your degree in your career marketing materials.
Short online courses that do not lead to formal certifications now have more value than they once did because they add keywords to your LinkedIn profile. For example, I recently “attended” a SkillShare class on blog writing. LinkedIn added the class to my profile, with my approval, so blog writing has been added to the keywords on my profile. Recruiters scan profiles electronically, so the keywords may bring a profile to an employer’s attention even if they do not read the course, or certification section.
There is no way a two-hour class in blog writing, or anything else, for that matter, will give you the same knowledge, skill, and credibility you will get from a college degree. People hire people, though, so it is important to get through the electronic filters and appear in a hiring team member’s virtual inbox.
You probably cannot get an accredited college degree during your end-of-year vacation, but you may find time for short courses before your holiday dinner.
Set goals and plans for next year.
Last, but not least, make a plan for next year. Tell someone close to you about it so you are more likely to act on your plan. Make your plan as specific as possible so you can measure progress.
Your goal should be achievable. Amazingly, I speak with job seekers from time-to-time that have set goals of landing jobs they do not have the credentials to fill. That does not mean they can never land the job. It means that their short-term goal should be to achieve the needed credentials. So, assess your 2021 results, think about what you want to achieve next year, and set a goal you feel is achieveable.