New Year, new you? If you want to give your professional prospects a boost, here are five things to do right now
By Ernie Richardson
Some estimates put the increase in job searches in January at around 33 per cent, which means a third of the UK workforce is on the hunt for a fresh opportunity.
|...whether you decide to move on or stay put, there’s a clear sense of purpose in the New Year.|
It is easy to see why: after an extended period of leave, you return to work feeling disheartened. It is easy to focus on the bad aspects of your current role. You quickly develop “grass-is-greener” syndrome and think that a different job, any job, will spell the end of your woes.
For some, the longing to move runs deeper. In the same way that the Christmas break prompts people to consider ending long-term relationships, it also gives them time to ponder their professional future.
But whether you decide to move on or stay put, there’s a clear sense of purpose in the New Year. Which is where our five steps to boost your career come in. Read on, and be ready to take 2020 by the horns.
1. Focus on what you want from life
All those hours spent staring at David Walliams adaptations over the Christmas holiday can have a brain-numbing effect. But now you’re back in work mode, it pays to spend some time considering your priorities.
“There’s a sense of a New Year providing a chance to take stock,” says Emma Kershaw, a director at Just Recruitment Group Ltd. “It’s worth going with the grain of this instinct. Use the feeling of a new start to consider what you want from life in the coming 12 months.
“It doesn’t all have to be about work. While you may decide that you want a big promotion and more professional status, you may equally conclude that you want a better work-life balance, to spend more time with your family and friends.
“Either decision is fine. But, once you’ve made it, the key thing is to work out steps that help you achieve it. Don’t let 2020 be another year of all talk and no action.”
2. Identify a project to keep you inspired
Very few of us can give up work entirely, even though it often has a strong appeal in the cold months of January and February. Similarly, it’s unlikely that we can change jobs in a heartbeat. Most people have to serve notice, and you need to find the right opportunity before jumping ship.
|“Give yourself a project that will motivate you over the weeks ahead.”|
So here’s Ms Kershaw’s advice for the period of discernment that is a New Year: “Give yourself a project that will motivate you over the weeks ahead.”
Such a project can be centred on work or leisure. You could take on a particular task for your employer: scoping a new investment, say, or planning a restructure.
“Alternatively,” says Ms Kershaw, “you could identify a personal goal that you want to achieve. Learn the piano, or plan a holiday. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. But finding something to focus on will help energise you. That newfound enthusiasm will permeate every aspect of your life.”
3. Build your network
Whether you’re looking to move to a new employer, progress in your current workplace or simply enhance your reputation, it pays to invest in your network.
Thanks to the pervasive presence of LinkedIn, it’s easy to give your virtual black book a tickle. Reach out to people on your contacts list. Get more active with posting. Position yourself as a thought leader. Engage with the world around you, showing your expertise in your industry.
“Virtual networking is a great way of enhancing your profile,” says Ms Kershaw. “But in my opinion nothing beats getting out and pressing the flesh.
“If you’re looking for a new opportunity, I’d recommend attending networking events, signing up for training courses in your sector, and even offering to speak at conferences. All of these activities will help you make useful contacts, raising your profile and giving you a boost at the same time.”
4. Invest in your development
Attending a training course isn’t just a good opportunity to make new connections. It will also equip you with new skills, enhancing your CV and helping you add value in the workplace.
|"...sign up for an online course or look into attending a one-off training event..."|
“The New Year is a great time to invest in your training and development,” says Ms Kershaw. “You may sign up for an online course or look into attending a one-off training event. Some people may even decide it’s the right moment to pursue further academic study that enhances their professional standing, or acquire a professional qualification.”
Whatever you fix on, it’s worth asking your employer if they’ll help fund it. That sends a signal that you’re ambitious and keen to progress, as well as helping with costs. Then make sure you stick with your training commitment, even when the New Year enthusiasm wears off. Training is only of value if you see it through.
5. Seek independent guidance
For most of us, it can be hard to make dispassionate judgments about our future, especially professionally.
That is why Ms Kershaw recommends seeking impartial guidance about your career plans: “Speak to someone who understands your industry, or has knowledge of recruitment. They’ll be able to assess your CV, consider your skill set, and help you discern the best next step.
“Many people don’t understand that a recruitment consultant’s job isn’t just to find you a new role,” she continues. “It’s also about sitting down with candidates and working out what’s right for them.
“Spending time with someone like me or a member of my team is beneficial to anyone who wants to take stock of their career. We live and breathe recruitment. Every day, we’re finding round holes for round pegs, ensuring the perfect match between opportunities and candidates. If you need some objectivity on your career, that’s a pretty good place to start.”
© Just Recruitment Group Ltd
Published: 8 January 2020
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