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With every new year comes new opportunities. Now is an excellent time to reflect on the past 12 months and how you envision your career for 2016.

Whether you want to change jobs — or careers, or simply get more out of your current job, use the next few weeks wisely and figure out what you need to do to lift your career to the next level. Perhaps it’s telling your network you’re looking to make a move. Or, perhaps it’s getting a promotion and a raise. Whatever it is, figure out how you’re going to make it happen.

manage_your_executive_career_new_yearHere are some clues to get started:
 

1. Check Where You’re Now

Review the year and remind yourself of the people, places and work that taught you the most and flexed your professional muscles. Identify the top achievements — the great things you pulled through this year — as well as the goals you had for 2015 that didn’t actualize. If those goals are still important to you, how will you realize them in 2016?

Clues for reflection:

  • Does your current job provide you with fulfilment and satisfaction?
  • What are you most proud of this past year — personally and professionally?
  • What’s your brand reputation these days?
  • Have you become the “go to” person for new areas of expertise?
  • What is your promise of value in the marketplace today?
  • What differentiates the value you offer from your current competitors?
     

2. Create Your Success Journal

Record your successes, learnings and discoveries

Your Success Journal may consist of hard copies, electronic files or a combination. Be sure to add any notes of appreciation from customers, coworkers or your company.

Clues for reflection:

  • Joined new professional associations or contributed to existing ones
  • Conquered challenges you and the company faced. What was the outcome?
  • Sourced a cost-saving new vendor
  • Became a mentor and helped others progress in their careers
  • Connected with new people who brought in business for your employer
  • Volunteered in your community

Your Success Journal will be useful in revising your resume, at performance review time, when supporting your candidacy in a job interview or when making your case for a promotion. Reminding yourself of your valuable contributions and achievements is also a giant ego boost, something we all need from time to time.

Identify areas for development and set goals for 2016

Decide what you want and spell it out: What does it look like; what does it feel like? Describe your ideal job or situation realistically and in detail, and pinpoint areas where improvement is needed. Then, identify and make a note of two to three goals you want to tackle. Use the S.M.A.R.T. goal system to articulate your goals — goals should be “Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Oriented.”
 

3. Spruce Up Your Resume

With the holidays coming up, you should have plenty of time to squeeze in an hour or two to trim your executive resume. Remember, every year your resume goes untouched it will be that much harder to edit when you finally need it. At the bare minimum your resume should be updated annually to maintain relevance.

Your 2016 Executive Resume Checklist:

1. Does your resume include recent projects, accomplishments, speaking engagements, board positions and professional affiliations?

2. Does your resume have a catchy design layout that conveys a strong executive look and feel?

3. Is it easy for your readers to find information and move through your document?

4. Does your resume put your best foot forward by leading with stories that speak of value, not just experience?

5. Is your resume authentic, conveying your unique talents and value proposition in a way that instantly evokes emotion and curiosity?

6. Is your resume aligned with your LinkedIn profile, Twitter account, blog and other social media pages that are pertinent to have in your field?

A review by one of BlueSteps Executive Career Services advisors can help assess whether your resume and online profiles will position you effectively in the marketplace.
 

4. Thank-You Is Always Due

Think of the people who have helped or inspired you this past year, and let them know you appreciate their assistance or inspiration. Everyone likes to be recognized and thanked, and sometimes small gestures open doors to bigger rewards. You never know how one follow-up email, thank-you note or holiday card might impact your career moving forward. Commit to making people feel special — and strengthen your professional network.
 

5. Hire a Pro

If you’re feeling stuck or not garnering the interest you want, it might be worthwhile hiring a professional who can help you define and promote your distinct executive brand and get you past any obstacles you may be facing. You can book a session with me or one of our other BlueSteps advisors right here. If you’re not currently a BlueSteps member, join today to kickstart your executive career in 2016.

This coming year, be dedicated to growing your career!