As we look ahead to 2003, many of us will make "New Year's resolutions" to create a fresh start in some aspect of our lives. Some of us may pledge to join a health club, while others may vow to increase savings or devote more time to a favorite charity.
But how many of us will make a New Year's resolution for our careers?
During the holiday season, it's natural to reflect about our lives. One question we may ask is , "Am I really happy about my career?" For Ronny, the baker in the film Moonstruck, "happy" was an unattainable state of mind:
"They say bread is life. So I bake bread, bread, bread …. And the years go by! By! By! And I sweat and shovel this stinking dough in and outta this hot hole in the wall and I should be so happy, huh, sweetheart?
Perhaps a better question to ask would be, "Are we integrating our lives vs. balancing our lives?" If you could define happiness, you usually would define it as an integrated life, rather than a balanced life; spending time with your spouse and family, but not doing it so monotheistically, serving one god, which is usually The Job. We all talk about it, we want to be integrated, but we really don't do much about it. Year-end is a good time to do that.
As you survey the status of your career, here are some questions to ask as you consider your New Year's career resolution:
If you are employed, is your field growing? Is your company growing? Is your work interesting, and is it giving you the chance to develop new skills? Too often, people stay in jobs because they like the security and comfort blanket of the familiar. But what if your work has become routine, and you're not growing and not learning? That's a good indication it may be time for a change -- or at least a new opportunity with your current employer.
If you're in transition, are you working your plan? It's understandable to become frustrated and down on yourself around the holidays when you're out of work. The thing to do is to continue to work your plan and view "getting a job" as a full-time job in and of itself. Don't hesitate to re-contact people in your network; it's probably been a while since they heard from you. You may need to restart your campaign with a fresh communication. Send out your resume again, make contact with all the people and organizations that can give you assistance, and make sure you're registered with search firms, placement agencies and the appropriate Internet job sites. Draft and rehearse your one-minute pitch. And don't read recruitment ads too literally. Respond, respond, respond -- even if you don't have all of the qualifications that the ads list. The companies behind those ads may have other positions for which you would be the perfect candidate.
How fresh is your network? Whether you're actively searching for a job or not, the New Year is a good time to review your network. Do you have at least 200 people in your network? If not, get busy. Most people who have been working for any length of time should be able to compile three lists for their network:
· An "A list" of people who could be influential in your search, people you check with regularly, people who want to hear from you because you can help in their businesses and careers. Remember, networking is a two-way street. The people who gain the most are the people who share the most.
· Your "B list" should comprise associates like ministers,
rabbis, priests, lawyers, doctors, and other influential
individuals you may not have considered as part of
your "career network." This list should also include
family members and other social contacts, such as
neighbors, fathers of friends, mothers of friends, and
· Finally, your "C list." This would be made up of former
colleagues and acquaintances. Whatever happened to that high school friend, that college classmate, a favorite teacher, your first boss, and those colleagues you worked with two or three jobs ago? The Internet makes it easier to find people with whom you have fallen out of touch. You never know where a renewed contact will lead.
Never stop working on your career. Whether you are employed or in transition, you are always in the business of advancing your career. Never forget that.
I hope these thoughts prove to be of value to you in your career or search. As we near the end of the year, I would like to extend my best wishes to you and your family for a happy and healthy new year, from all of us at WJM Associates.