Updated for 2020. Time to close up for the year and start looking at the next one. When I think about the upcoming year, I want to come up with actionable, doable tasks that will help your career and job performance. Blue sky stuff doesn't cut it; only things that lead you to employment security do. Let's take a look at the list:
14 actions to improve your job performance this year
Update your resume. Your resume is a living document based on the work you’ve done over time. It is easy to remember and/or find the information you need to update your resume from the work you’ve done this past year. It’s not easy to find the same information from five years ago when you need to update your resume to apply for that cool job that just became available. Thus, update your resume. Now.
Update your LinkedIn profile. Although LinkedIn is many things, one of the primary purposes of the site is to allow you to present your job skills and experience out there to the world. Recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates. Help them find you so you can have consideration for that cool new job that you never knew was available.
Learn a new job skill. Job skills are the currency of choice in the job market. If an employer determines you don’t have the skills to do the job, you’ll never get a shot at the interview – or promotion. Having the job skill is no guarantee of landing the job, but not having the job skill is often a reason to not even interview you.
Nail down your business goals. This means both how you will achieve your business goal and how you will measure it to ensure success. Too many people get their goals for the year in corporate American and then drop them into the (electronic) file cabinet. Then get surprised at the end of the year when management rates them poorly because they couldn’t prove they met their goals. Don’t let this happen to you.
Determine your current job satisfaction. Determine what areas of your job you want to track. Your manager, the company culture, your coworkers, your pay, and others. Then determine how satisfied you are with each area, giving it a numerical rating.
Tracked over time, it will help you see your job satisfaction trend. The trend is important and gives you an early indication on if your satisfaction is getting better or worse. It will help you see if you need to be looking for a new position.
Improve your status reporting to your manager. The simple status report can become a powerful way to consistently show your work to your manager and provide the documentation needed for your performance review.
Get all of your personal documents out of the office. Get it off of the work computer (you don’t own anything on your work computer, including your personal stuff; the company does), get it out of your desk. Take your status reports home. Take your performance reviews home. Take any kudo emails, print them, and take them home.
Both times I was laid off, I had to immediately turn in my computer and was walked (nicely) out the door. Don’t lose all the critical career data you need for finding a job by having it at work. That just sucks.
Subscribe to services (like my newsletter) with your personal, not corporate, email address. Same reason. When I send out my newsletter, I always have “out of office” responses that include “Mary Smith is no longer working at…” coming back from corporate email addresses.
Have your career stuff go to your personal email accounts. It's your career resources; don't cut them off when you get laid off or move to a different position at a different company.
Resolve to get the personal contact information for people who leave the company. They are going to work at some other company. Wouldn’t it be nice to know how it is going at that other company if you decide to move on? Or if the company lays you off and you must move on?
Resolve to add ten people to your business network this year. Track it. Your business network is critical to finding answers needed for your work – and finding jobs when you decide to leave.
Help someone in your business network every month. Whether it is to answer a question, introduce them to someone they need or want to talk with, or help them navigate your hiring process because they would be a great addition to your company, helping people first is critical to your credibility when your turn comes to seek help.
Consider interviewing for another position. Think about it: interviewing is our least practiced job skill because we so rarely interview for a job. If you feel you are secure in your position – or it has been a long time since you’ve interviewed for a position – consider going through the process. You’ll find out how difficult it is and it will help you gauge the amount of time it will take you to find another position.
I had a coworker who had the objective of landing one job offer a year going for a position he would work in. And, yes, he eventually took one of those offers.
Decide to pay off at least one bill this year. The car payment. The credit card. The highest interest rate loan you have. Get rid of it. It will give you more take-home pay and you won’t be supporting companies with your interest payments.
Max out your 401(k) or IRA plan. Figure out how much it would take per month to do so and then put that amount into the plan. You’ll take a hit in take home pay – but not as much as you might think because of the tax deferment. The earlier you bite the bullet, the bigger the payoff later. Compounding does that.
Even if you can't max out the amount, max your amount you can into the plan. If you don't have any contributions now, minimally put in the amount that maximizes the employer match because you are literally giving away the biggest return on your money you'll ever get.
Then go above and beyond and take a percentage -- like 15% -- of your income as the next step and keep plowing in your raises/bonuses until annual increases get you to the maximum.
There will be no pensions left (at least in the US), Social Security is no match for your income, and all you will have to live on is what you save. The earlier you can max out your 401(k), the better.