Kick-start Your Career: Tips for the New Year

By Kristen Harris

Whether it’s a New Year’s resolution, rebounding from the holidays or simply having more free time, the new year makes people think about their career. In regards to their current position people generally are happy, okay for now, or not happy. Regardless of where you fall, there are things you can do to move your career in the right direction.

Happy with your current position? Great! That’s good news. Is it surprising to know that you’re in the minority? According to a recent Right Management poll, just 5 percent of the workers polled said they intend to remain in their current position. You’re one of the happy ones so make the most of your unique situation! Seek opportunities to learn and grow, find new ways to contribute to the success of your employer, and identify how your role may evolve so you can be prepared for the next step. And, even though you’re happy, you never know when an opportunity will present itself. With a professional resume and solid portfolio of work, you’ll always be prepared for to interview for a great internal position or with a new company.

Your job is okay…for now? Now is a great time to start putting out feelers and making connections that could lead to a new opportunity. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported the largest number of “job-leavers” in a decade.2 Interestingly, the bulk of the 1.1. million workers who left their job in October 2011 did so without having another lined up.  There are many factors that may contribute to why someone would leave their position, but the two largest seem to be confidence that there are more opportunities available and frustration with the status quo. Employees who weathered the economic storm without experiencing a lay-off, or who took a less-than-ideal job because it was the only available option, are starting show signs of confidence in their ability to find something new. As the old adage goes, the best time to look for a job is when you already have one. Reach out to your professional connections, recruiters and advisors to let them know that, confidentially, you would be open to a new opportunity. Be specific about what that new position would look like, and what you would need to seriously consider making a move.

You’re really unhappy where you are, or aren’t working? Now is a great time to renew the vigor of your job search. Attend industry events and reach out to your professional and personal connections, especially those that you may have seen recently over the holidays. Make sure your resume and portfolio of work are current and professionally presented. Stay current on news of growth or changes within companies you’re interested in—those are often signs that new opportunities may open up and you’ll want to be the first to know. Commit to frequently attending industry events or meetings; all of the groups that were on hiatus over the holidays should be back to their regular schedule.

A special note to employers:

Those statistics about the number of people planning to look for a new position in 2012 (84% in the Right Management poll)? The number of people who are leaving jobs without something new in place? Those may be your employees. It’s important to know who on your team is happy, just okay, or really not happy; who is engaged, indifferent, or actively disengaged. Do the work necessary to keep the right people on your team, and be prepared for the loss of others. Cross-train, have a back-up plan for someone leaving (maybe the same plan you used over the holidays), and always keep a list of talent that would be a good fit for your team if and when you have the right role for them. 

1 Source:  Survey Finds Wide Employee Discontent, poll conducted by Right Management, a division of Manpower Group:

2 Source:  Voluntary Quits Rising As Engagement Measures Decline, John Zappe, November 23, 2011: