6 Career Resolutions for 2011

There’s just something about opening a calendar for a new year that inspires us to improve our lives. So it’s no surprise that New Year’s career resolutions often focus on big goals–such as a promotion or a new job.

And that’s why many resolutions get tossed aside by the second week in January. We get overwhelmed when we realize that outcomes are not always in our control.  But there are plenty of attainable goals–such as adding people to your network or committing to read one business-related book per month–that can add up to eventual career success.

Experts recommend a mix of easy-to-achieve and lofty goals. The important part is to choose goals that are directly related to making you more successful in your job.

Here are some other suggestions from the experts:

Hone your elevator pitch.
It starts with honing your personal brand. Perform a simple inventory: What did you do in 2010 that has transferable value to your employer or potential employer in 2011? Then turn that into a succinct (60 seconds or less) pitch on what you are uniquely positioned to do better than anyone else.

You can also get people to start talking about you by updating your LinkedIn profile with any certifications you’ve earned or classes you’re taking, as well as forwarding relevant articles. Create your own buzz. It’s self-promotion, but it’s not shameless.

Brush up on hard skills.
Head back to school for additional education, certification, diplomas, or language skills. Once you have the knowledge and skill, it’s yours forever–hard to take away. Industries and work environments change, so make sure you’re keeping up. Be intentional about your knowledge base and upgrade or update it now.

Solidify your soft skills.

While you’re admiring that new diploma hanging on the wall, you shouldn’t forget about “soft” skills, such as business etiquette, body language, and personal accountability. Master the arts of introductions, conversation, and establishing professional presence. Ask others to judge your handshake, table manners, and posture.

A University of Illinois study concluded that 55 percent of the first impression you make is based on your appearance and your body language. And while first impressions are made within the first 30 seconds of meeting someone, it can take up to as many as 21 interactions to undo a bad first impression. If you want to be known for being detail-oriented, hem your pants, polish your fingernails, or iron that shirt.

Work better with others.
Employees should treat everyone they work with as if they are a customer. Everyone includes your company’s management team, your direct supervisor, even your cubicle-mate. Provide knock-your-socks-off service.

One place to start is by sharing credit with your team and with everyone in the organization who contributed to a success. When you do this consistently, you become the kind of leader people will want to follow, regardless of your title. Likewise, acknowledge people when they do great work, and be specific: Give evidence that demonstrates you understand their work and the difference it made to the organization.

Approach failure as an opportunity.

Use every failure or mistake as an opportunity to learn and plan for the future. Pay attention to what you were trying to accomplish, what you did to make that happen, what went right, and what went wrong. By taking time to consider what went into a failed initiative, you can learn what could have been done better–and in the future, if you’re presented with a similar situation or project, you’ll know what you should do differently.

Get advice.
No matter how much experience you have, you will never possess an exhaustive knowledge of the constantly shifting job market.  So get advice from the experts, the people who have been involved in the industry for decades and who make it their business to keep up to date.

Original topic/article written by Lydia Dishman

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