The business of targeting and leveraging talent has been my prime focus for more than 20 years. I have watched people launch their careers and skyrocket to the top. And, I have seen people start off strong and then never really kick into gear. Two employees may begin new work in relatively the same position, but their career trajectories can take completely different paths.
People often justify the good fortune of others by saying, a person was just “in the right place at the right time” or “that person is lucky” or “played the political game.” From my experience, more often than not, people who move up the management chain or achieve serious success are the ones who manage their careers every step of the way.
We’ve put together these Career Resolutions to help you navigate towards greater professional success.
1. Seek Out Mentors
One of the most significant factors for success is surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you, more successful than you and who are committed to your success and development.
If you are currently working for a manager or leader you respect, I challenge you to expand the conversation. Don’t hesitate to go deeper—ask for feedback, ask for a roadmap to your next promotion, ask for more responsibility, ask about the future and what you need to do to advance with flying colors.
On the contrary, if you do not feel your current manager cares about your success or does not spend adequate time developing and mentoring you, abandon ship. Your first order of business in 2021 is a new job or new position; make the person you are working for a #1 priority.
2. Review the Company and Your Role
Take a good look at the company where you are working. Do you believe in its mission and vision? Do you agree with the core values? Does the company emulate these core values? Are you proud to work for the company? Is the company growing? If you cannot answer these questions with an enthusiastic and resounding yes, you may want to reevaluate your position.
The company doesn’t need to be a game changer in technology or a nonprofit curing cancer—but you should know where your company fits into the community and where it makes a difference in what it does. Employees who relate to the vision and core values of their workplace have heightened job satisfaction.
Are you challenged in your role? Is there diversity in what you do? Do you know your career path? Are there clear objectives? Do you love what you do? If your answer to any of these questions is no, it is high time to rethink your current situation and reshape your future.
3. Upgrade Your Skill Set, Especially Technology
Among many things, 2020 taught us that life and business move at the speed of light. The only thing we can count on is change. We must be in a constant state of self-improvement and learning.
How can two people in the exact same position experience entirely different career results? One person is intellectually curious, frequently challenging herself and upgrading her skills. The other person is fine with the status quo, getting the work done but not going beyond. The difference in effort between mediocre work and fantastic work does not take as much effort as you may think. However, the difference in productivity, output and perception is infinite.
Let’s talk tech. New accounting systems, new business intelligence systems and new AI tools are continually being created and improved. It is imperative to be on the vanguard of new technology. If you are in Accounting and Finance, you need to know all the latest products and you must be an expert in Microsoft and presentation products. If you rest on your laurels, technology will pass you by—as will a promotion. An employee who uses technology for process improvement and efficiency is priceless.
Commit to networking regardless of whether you are happy in your role or not. Pledge to reconnect with college classmates and co-workers from previous jobs. Invite your current co-workers to lunch. Get to know the parents on your child’s soccer team. Ensure everyone you meet knows you, knows what you do and knows how you want your career to advance.
As a recruiter for more than 20 years, I can tell you unequivocally, you never know where you will find your next opportunity. I have been introduced to some amazing companies, executives and friends through the most unlikely places like my children’s piano teacher and my dentist. Check out our tips for.
5. Engage or Re-Engage with a Recruiter
Qualified recruiters can provide immense value to your career in the short- and long-term. Make it a goal to find a good recruiter. Tell them what your career goals are and what types of opportunities you are interested in. Make sure he or she knows what your full skillset is and what makes you stand out from the competition.
Whether or not you are interested in making a move this year, or if the recruiter currently has an intriguing opportunity or not, engage with him or her and cultivate a relationship. A skilled recruiter can be a huge career ally. While you are focused on doing a great job where you are, your recruiter is keeping an eye out for your next opportunity. Recruiters are also excellent sources for market information, and the best ones are talented career coaches and advisors.
6. Enhance Your Personal Brand and Social Presence
Any time is a great time to enhance your personal brand. If you commit to a project, follow through. Make sure people perceive you the way you want to be perceived. Kick up the dress code a notch—in the office and on Zoom.
’s news feeds. If you read a good business article, share it. A few minutes a day interacting on LinkedIn will keep you top of mind and will help grow your network.with any new skills and information. Comment on your network
7. Plan Your Career, Set Goals, Review Your Plan
Quantify your goals and break them down into easily digestible parts. Envision your end game. When you retire, what do you want to have accomplished? What are the steps you need to take to get there? Create a career map, sets goals and timelines, and constantly review where you are in relationship to where you want to be.
What do you want to accomplish this year? What goals are you going to achieve regarding professional development, personal development, improving your technical and technology skills? How many people are you going to reach out to and have lunch with every month? Answering these questions and tracking progress can boost your productivity and prosperity.
A successful career is like a thriving garden — it must be attended to daily. Consistent effort creates a gratifying outcome. Let’s make 2021 your best year yet.