Most of us don’t stick to our New Year’s resolutions for more than a few weeks. This time last year you probably made some of the typical resolutions. Maybe you pledged to exercise more, travel more (sorry!), or budget better.
Admittedly, the events of 2020 upended many aspects of our world. We were forced to slow down and take stock of everything and we all had challenges to face. If we were lucky that just meant feeling lost in interminable lockdown, working from home and missing all sorts of things we’d previously taken for granted.
For others, it was much worse. It meant severe health challenges or redundancy and financial insecurity. As we begin 2021 in yet another lockdown, it’s important to reflect on what helped us stay resilient. Here are three resolutions to help you start the New Year strong and set yourself up for lasting career success in 2021.
Stop dreaming, start planning
Many of us dream about a better-paying job, a return to work or a new career direction. If that includes you, just commit to taking small positive steps towards that goal.
If you’d like to make some real, lasting changes in your professional life, start with a brainstorm. If you find yourself dreading logging into Zoom or Teams every day, try to figure out exactly why. Evaluate what you like and dislike about your job.
Maybe you feel you’re just coasting and are frustrated with not getting the promotions you deserve? Or maybe the pandemic has changed your world view and motivations. Sometimes personal circumstances change and the long hours that once seemed normal are now impossible or just draining.
Being clear about your motivation for making changes is vital. It’s likely that there are some common themes in your career history and analysing these can help you decide your next steps. For example, do you want to stay in your current industry, use your skills in a different industry or go back to a sector you enjoyed a few years ago? Or, are you up for doing something completely different?
Get some positive momentum going
For many, a CV overhaul is often on their New Year to-do list. You can start by listing all your achievements – professional and personal. Include everything; it’s going to be a long list but you can edit later. Keep it positive and upbeat. Your CV is not the place to wallow in past mistakes.
Think about every role you’ve had. What benefits did you bring to your employer? Did you increase sales, transform a team or deliver successful projects?
If you’re returning to work after an extended career break, you’ll still have notable achievements from both your break and your previous roles. You’ve probably half-forgotten about many of the projects you’ve delivered or promotions you’ve celebrated – but you did them. Think back beyond the headlines such as “launched new product” and go through the steps you took to make that happen and the impact you had.
Sometimes I speak to CV clients who think they don’t have any achievements. I can guarantee you that every single one has. They just don’t recognise them as achievements or they’ve forgotten.
Start writing that list. Put it aside for 24 hours and give it another go, more achievements will come to you. Gather facts, figures and put together a portfolio of your work that showcases your skills and experience. Once you’ve got enough data, start to sift through it and think about what’s CV worthy.
Do your research
Thankfully, as we’re in lockdown for the foreseeable future, you can do this from the comfort of home. Have a look at some job ads and person specifications for the types of role you’re interested in. I always advise tweaking your CV for each job application.
Consider the employer, the nuances of the role and the skills required. It’s not as daunting as it sounds. Once you’ve crafted a powerful CV, the heavy lifting work has been done.
You can then adapt your CV to the target role. When you’ve collated all the evidence of your achievements and done your job research, you’ll be in a good position to spot any gaps. If you’re already able to deliver in your dream role – then great, go for it.
If you’ve identified skills, training or experience gaps – then this is the perfect time to fill them. A programme of self study can help you stay focused during lockdown and you can now choose from thousands of online courses.
This is also a good time to join (or re-join) relevant professional associations or networking groups. As so many events, webinars and training resources have gone online in the last year, it’s never been easier to discover potential job vacancies or take advantage of learning opportunities. This is also a good time to invest in a positive, powerful LinkedIn profile so you can start connecting with like-minded people.
Finally, remember New Year’s resolutions are just wishful thinking without a plan. If lockdown makes you feel too daunted or exhausted to go for a big plan, try breaking things down into realistic, manageable tasks. Reviewing and refreshing your CV and LinkedIn profile is a practical first step you can take towards proactively managing your career during lockdown.
If you’d like further help kick-starting your 2021 career plans, take a look at the Career Refinery Portal & App. It gives you all the tools and advice you’ll need to make changes to your career. It blends e-learning with live jobs and weekly webinars to keep your career resolutions on track throughout the whole year.