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8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Career This Year

Consider this list a jetpack for your career—and salary.

It’s a new year and that could mean a new career—or at least new responsibilities, clients, or projects at work. At Career Contessa we dedicate all of January to this theme, “New Year, New Career” and we even have this fabulous giveaway to help jumpstart your motivation. However, I also know many of you are super busy and don’t have time to read article upon article on boosting your career in 2018 all month long, so I’ve summarized my 8 best tips below:

8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Career This Year_1

If you’re looking for a promotion or thinking about a career transition then you’re also going to have to fill any skill gaps you may have. Skill gaps are areas of expertise that are needed for your next role or project that you don’t currently have experience with. This means to communicate you’re right for the role, you’ll need to have some case studies or examples of your success with the skills required for the next role.

Before you enroll in any classes, you’ll want to identify what skills you need. A good place to find this information is via your manager in your annual review. For example, if you’re an assistant property manager and want to be promoted to property manager, what’s missing? Maybe it’s budget skills or project management experience.

If you’re looking to transition to a new job/company, have an informational interview with someone doing the job you want. Take note and then consider online class options like Skillshare, Pluralsight, LinkedIn Learning, etc.

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Money is power because money allows you to have more choices—especially when it comes to your career. If you ever want to take a career break, take a pay cut to work in a new role, or just retire early, it will be important for you to have your debt paid off and your money well managed. To help make a plan for your money, check out Ellevest’s free financial planner. You enter in all your financial info, age, income, etc. and then what your financial goals are. A few seconds later, you’re given a custom financial plan that tells you exactly how much you should contribute to each goal every month based off your current salary and savings.

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The #1 problem I see with resumes is that people wait to update them until they are actively job searching and then rush to send in an application. This resume lacks good design, proper formatting, and information specifically tailored to the job/company you’re applying for. I highly recommend you constantly work at honing your resume, or invest your time this weekend in The 24-Hour Resume Makeover e-course and use one of our pre-made resume templates to create a master resume that you can then tailor for a specific job when it pops up.

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If making more money is one of your career goals this year, then your first question may be, “How much should I ask for?” First, research by using your industry, job function, and location information. Glassdoor has a great tool called Know Your Worth.

Next, review our Salary Project series so you can see what others in your role and location make. You can also ask colleagues in a similar role how much they make. If they feel comfortable sharing, you can use that information to fine-tune your research. Lastly, use the GIMME script to ask your boss for a raise.

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Busy days absolutely call for convenience, and what’s more convenient than the exact tools or resources landing in your inbox each day? If you’re job searching, sign up for our weekly jobs email that sends curated full-time, part-time, and remote job opportunities to your inbox each Wednesday. If you’re looking to stay current with the news, theSkimm is my go-to. If you’re wanting to know where/how/when women are making an impact in this world, Fortune’s The Broadsheet will keep you entertained. If you want to thrive in your career, Career Contessa’s weekly email will send expert-backed tips and strategies each Sunday [Ed note: We look forward to Lauren's (Career Contessa's) email every week!]. 

I’d also recommend signing up for any industry-specific newsletters. If you work in entertainment that might mean Variety, or for tech, Mashable. Here are 9 other newsletters every woman should make room for in her inbox.

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Many CEOs and executives wait till they’ve reached the top to hire a career coach, but that has always seemed counterintuitive to me. When you’re in the thick of building your career, moving up the elusive corporate ladder, managing people, and trying to keep your personal life organized, you could really use personalized help from a career coach.
Career coaches help you act upon your ideas, set and stay accountable to goals, build successful teams, communicate better, and so much more. Great career coaches can be hard to find so I recommend either asking for a referral, checking out Hire a Mentor, Career Contessa’s coaching service, or asking your HR/Talent department if they have any recommendations. Here’s a quick review about our career coaching experience.

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Networking can feel like a full-time job, so, to make it more manageable for your schedule, I recommend that you start networking with the people at your office first. If you work for a large company, then start picking one person from each department to have coffee or lunch with each week. From there, you can ask them to make introductions to their network. 

Networking within your company is also a great way to develop mentors and sponsors that will advocate on your behalf at work. Just make sure you’re networking with folks who are more senior to you. You can also join resource groups (or even start one!) as a great opportunity to grow your network more.

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Research proves that when you’re using your strengths at work, you’re more likely to be engaged and fulfilled. Increased engagement can lead to increased opportunities, productivity, and satisfaction. Start identifying your strengths by taking an assessment— I even like this personality test

Next, document where you’re using your strengths at work. Which projects are you successful at? Which tasks give you the most energy? You can track all of this in a work journal. Once you know what your strengths are, where you’re using them or projects you want to use them on, talk with your manager about shifting your responsibilities. 

A good way to prepare for this ask (and get what you want!) is by bringing lots of examples of your strengths being put to use at work to the benefit of the organization. For example, if your strength is relationship building and you can give evidence of this strength helping your team land a new client, your boss might be more open to shifting your tasks.

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