Did you set any career goals for 2019? If not, goal setting is one of the best ways to improve your career. 

While one may think of goal setting in the context of personal fitness or finance, I’d like to outline how setting yearly goals for your career can substantially improve your position in the job market. 

1 – Networking is Still a Thing

Having friends both at work and in your industry at large is more important than most think. It’s a fact that people like others who connect to them on an authentic level. This could be your boss or your colleagues at the level you’re currently at. Who knows which of your coworkers will get promoted, and then allow you to reap the benefits of that promotion? 

So give some thought on how you can develop the confidence to improve personal connections with both your boss and colleagues at an authentic level. And your networking doesn’t just have to happen at work. You can network through sites like LinkedIn, or at a professional meet and greet in your city. 

2 – Last Year’s Resume’ is Too Old

Keeping a resume updated in the current style is something people only think of when they lose a job or are looking for a job. However, due to the sometimes unpredictable nature of work, you might need to change jobs at a moment’s notice. 

Also, keeping your resume updated allows you to snag better positions while you still have your current job. Did your job add responsibilities but your position stayed the same? Include it on your resume. It will help you both to seek better-paying jobs outside of your current position or a better job at the company you currently work for.  Also, it’s a good idea to have a physical and digital copy of your resume. 

3 – You Need a New Cover Letter for Every Company

Often you see cover letters required when applying for positions. However, don’t use the same cover letter for every job. You should target the particular job you want with a specific case study. A good method for doing this is extracting the job requirements listed on the job posting and inserting relevant details that will catch the hiring manager’s attention. 

By doing this, you not only show that you are hyper-interested in the position, but you also demonstrate your work ethic and gain an opportunity to showcase specifically why you are right for the position. 

4 – Will Your Resume Survive Applicant Tracking Systems?

While a highly stylized resume may look good on the surface, you have to make sure it uploads to applicant tracking systems used by most big employer. A single job posting can receive hundreds of applications. So if your application cannot be tracked or read by their software, there goes your chance to advance. To combat this, search for ATS compatible resume templates online and don’t deviate from the design too much. 

5 – Learn Something New and Charge $ for It

Set a goal to keep learning and improving your skills, building off of what you have already. With the rise in online learning platforms, there’s no excuse to not stay up to date on the newest trends and best practices in your industry. 

And if you are looking to improve your career, nothing else comes close to increasing your education and certifications in the industry you already work in. For example, let’s say you’re a WordPress web designer who can recommend a good WordPress web host, install the software, and build out a site using that platform. Those are valuable skills but have you explored the idea of adding more value and earning more money in the process?

Cybersecurity is on the minds of more people every day. Maybe you could learn how to secure a website or even get yourself put on retainer to regularly check on clients’ sites and make sure malware and hackers are staying out and that it’s running smooth and fast. The point is that having the capability to offer more services is never a bad thing.

6 – Do You Know Enough About Your Industry?

When you work, it’s easy to know a lot about your job but not as much about the overall industry. However, if you want an upward career trajectory, it’s worth spending some time getting a grasp on the big picture aspects of what drives that industry. Employers are looking for people with deep knowledge and a long-term view for promotions. Conversely, one of the best ways to snag that dream job is to know more about the industry than your cubicle mate. 

7 – Update LinkedIn and Watch Those Instagram Posts!

Similar to how you should keep your resume updated at all times, you should do the same thing with your professional profiles like LinkedIn. It is common for HR and hiring managers to check the social profiles (and even social media posts) of those they are vetting for jobs. But if your resume and professional profiles don’t match up or your Facebook is disturbing, it could throw up a red flag in the hiring process. 

This also applies to any work you have created such as graphic design, coding, or web design. For each industry, there are almost always professional networking sites dedicated to it.  This means that in addition to just listing your skills, you will gain an advantage because you can demonstrate them as well. 

8 – Think About Work Before You Get There

Your morning routine is a huge deal when it comes to your career. While some think it’s unnecessary and wasted time to think about work before they actually clock in, this is the thinking of the people whom you’ll likely pass on your way up. 

Spending just 10 to 20 minutes preparing for the day will increase your effectiveness dramatically and maybe even set you up to enjoy your job more than expected you could. Being on top of things rather than eternally behind tends to have that effect. Reflect on the previous day. Think on the tasks in front of you and how you’ll approach them. To-do lists are an amazing and productive tool, but keep them relatively short. Some say you should have no more than five major tasks listed. 

9 – Ask People to Say Nice Things About You

Have you had positive experiences with a client, coworker, or boss? Hopefully, the answer is ‘yes’ here. Most of us have. Yet, almost no one thinks to ask for a written testimonial to document it. It’s a fact that when HR and hiring managers see a testimonial or letter of recommendation, it puts your application ahead of those who do not include similar elements in their resume. It’s the ultimate in social proof.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve read the entire article, here’s the big question. Will you try any of these steps or merely leave them as a collection of pixels fading from your screen? Regardless of where you are on the career ladder, pick one to implement. Give it an honest try and let us know how it worked. Then pick another, and another. You get the idea. To make something good happen, you have to first take action. Good luck!