13 job and career actions to take for 2013

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Jan 01

I’ve never been a big believer in focusing on the past. The past, of course, is past and there isn’t much we can do about what happened then. Except learn the lessons the actions of the past taught us. Or should have taught us!

But, I do focus on what we need to do for the future through the actions we take now. In this article, I’d like to take a look at actions we can all take to make our jobs and career efforts the best we can for 2013. Then, I’ll take this list and build out an article for each of the items to provide context and more specific actions to take for the item. All of this based on how to achieve employment security and not just job security.

Want to make your job better and your career safer in 2013? Let’s dive in.

1. Review your job satisfaction regularly

Usually what happens on the job is that we think things are going okay, but then they hit a rough patch and then the rough patch lasts a little longer and then, finally, something really bad happens. Then your attitude about the job changes from it being a little tough to “I’ve got to get out of here. Now.” Which leads to stupid job selection decisions.

Better to evaluate your job at regular intervals using some neutral tool that you can evaluate over time. We can do that — sign up for my weekly newsletter and get both a job satisfaction survey worksheet you can use for this purpose as well as The Employment Security Hierarchy as bonuses.

2. Update your resume

Your resume is the first tool utilized to find a new job when needed. But when do we update our resumes? When we start looking for a new job — often 2-3 years after we last updated our resume. You pay a big penalty in not updating your resume regularly — lost business results, not remembering the critical actions taken to achieve a goal, and not recording the impact of your work on the department results. What happens? You produce a crap resume to put out there and then wonder why no one is calling you for interviews.

Updating your resume now captures the critical 2012 actions you took. Write a book on it. It’s always easier to edit later than trying to re-create what you fabulously did through your work.

3. Ensure your SMART Goals are really smart

Every well-managed department has good goals for their employees. They just don’t always measure up to killer SMART goals. If you and your manager determined your 2013 goals in 2012, take a fresh look at them now and see how they are stacking up with the light of a new year.

The time to update goals is now, always in real time — and never at the end of the year. Or, worse, not at all. Your performance review is based on these goals. Get them wrong — or the goals are no longer right — and the only person who pays the consequences is you.

4. Add a job skill during the new year

Job skills are the base of employability. Without the right job skills in your portfolio, you won’t even get the interview, much less the job. Too often, though, we just coast along thinking the work in the marketplace isn’t changing. Then, when it comes time to find a new job — especially after a layoff — we find that we’re no longer qualified as well as others for the very same work we were just doing.

Add to your job skills.

5. Determine your method for documenting your business results

Documenting your business results directly impacts your ability to a) show and justify your work performance on your performance review, and, b) allows you to take those business results and add them to your resume.

Without documentation, you have no proof.

6. Move all your career related stuff off your work computer to your personal computer

Your stuff — resumes, status reports, performance reviews — is not your stuff if it is on a company computer. It belongs to the company — and that asset can be taken from you in under ten minutes if you get laid off. Then it’s gone.

Get your career stuff off your company asset on to your personal asset. It’s just a horrible situation to find a new job by having to start entirely over because you trusted the company.

7. Communicate with your business network once a month

Business networks are the lifeblood of your career support group. Know who these people are — inside the company and out — and communicate your activity at least once a month. You’d be surprised how consistent communication produces what looks like serendipity to the rest of the world who doesn’t do this.

8. Add a new person to your business network every month

This is another highly proactive step you can take to build a solid support base for your career. We usually don’t consciously think about that new person as someone who we can support in their work and our business network withers away.

9. Save one month’s take-home pay

You know what the pinnacle of the employment security hierarchy is? Finances. Your financial security is what keeps job search desperation away. I advocate for a longer time of take-home pay in the bank, but if you haven’t started, getting a least a month’s take home pay in the bank will help keep that desperation feeling away.

10. Add to your 401(k) program

If you are not at least saving enough into your 401(k) program to get the full company match, you are simply throwing money out the window. There is nothing that will equal or exceed the return of the company match in your 401(k) plan. Nothing.

11. Pay off your credit cards

In a time of bonds earning less than 2%, credit card companies are still charging you double digit interest on your balances. Great way to help fund the credit card companies — and take away your take home pay with little reduction in the principle payoff.

12. Plan on how you will answer basic interview questions

Job searches are our least used skills — because we don’t search for a job as often as we, say, use Microsoft Office. We’re not good at looking for a job. But there are five or so basic interview questions that you should be able to answer cold, so it makes sense to get those answers down in writing. You can then build off those answers over time.

13. Determine your work strengths — and figure out how to make them even stronger

Yes, you’ll get asked about your weaknesses. But managers want strong performance in an area to help achieve their business goals. You don’t give work to a person who has weaknesses in the area where you want results. Smart managers give tasks to employees that have strengths in those tasks to get them done. Figure out your strengths and then figure out how to make those strengths so strong that your weaknesses won’t matter.

Time to get your 2013 on

It looks like a big list, doesn’t it? Plus, it’s not necessarily easy to accomplish these actions. But it’s a great start and if you work through how to do these action items in your own situation, you’ll come out of 2013 with a big boost to your work accomplishments and your career.