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Have you been searching for that new job for the past twelve months but can’t seem to find the right opportunity? With the New Year approaching, maybe it’s time to throw out your old approach and try something different? Here are a few proven strategies to make 2020 your best year ever.

A little bit of a cliche but one of my firm favourites is to Determine Your Career Signature – if you had to write down one statement that would encompass who you are (or want to be) professionally and personally, what would it say? Take some time to clarify your unique signature, and use this statement as a guiding force in pursuing what you want to do and whom you want to be. 

Know what matters most – have you ever noticed it’s not necessarily the times in your career that you worked the longest or hardest that got the most positive attention? Sure sometimes there’s a correlation, but chances are it’s more a matter of finding that sweet spot where your skills and talents matched a strategic business need and pointing all your energy in that direction. Recognise What You Can And Cannot Control – write down the things that stress you out at work. Circle the ones you have control over, and cross out the ones you don’t. Vow to stop spending energy on the crossed-out items; redirect your energy on finding solutions to the problems you can change. 

If it’s broken then fix it – what’s not working that’s driving everyone crazy? What process could be made more efficient? How can you make work more efficient not just for you, but for your peers as well? 

Build a clear cadence of communication – be the person that makes everyone’s lives easier through a clear cadence of communication up, down and sideways. Treat everyone’s time as a precious resource. Hold meetings that people actually want to attend.

Strengthen strategic peer relationships – great work never happens in a vacuum. Invest time in building strategic peer relationships where you truly understand, and help one another to achieve, your interdependent objectives. Nothing frustrates senior managers more than dysfunctional turf wars that distract people from doing the right thing for the business and for your customers. 

Invest in your own development – even if you’re not changing roles, be sure you’re constantly learning and growing. Have a clear development plan that stretches you and helps you contribute more to the business each year.

Goal-setting is one of the most effective ways to achieve results and a great time to explore what you want your year ahead to look like. Your goals should be the catalyst to help direct you where you want to be, sit down and take a moment to think about what you want from 2020. This means self-reflection, both personally and professionally, but before you start listing the ways you’re going to dominate the next 12 months like the powerhouse you are, you need an accurate picture of what your career looks like right now.

To help with your career evaluation, ask yourself the following five self-assessment questions as you look back over the past 12 months and ahead to the new year. These year-end questions will help you become successful at your job or make the required changes easily.

What goals did you hit? 

No doubt you set some challenges for yourself last year but the more important part was that you acted on them. Did you lead a project that gave you more visibility? Did you get the promotion you were hoping for? Or did you just kind of go through the motions of your job and not really progress anywhere? Make a list of your key accomplishments, whether it was something large like getting a promotion or even as small as updating your CV. Whatever you achieved, the important thing is that you made progress and weren’t just spinning your wheels.

Did you push yourself out of your comfort zone?

A sure sign of career growth is to compare the size of your skillset at the beginning and end of the year. Did you attend any conferences, networking events, online training, earn new certifications or keep up with industry trends? 

What would you do differently if you could turn back time?

If there’s nothing you’d change about the past year, you need to share your secret to career perfection with the rest of the world. But realistically, with the benefit of hindsight, I’m sure that there was certainly something a mistake or missed opportunity you wish you handled differently. It is true that if you change anything in the past, you might not be where you are today. But unless you realise which of your decisions or actions could be changed for a better outcome, you will never improve. So, ask yourself about your regrets. Was there any situation you could have handled better? What did you do wrong? Recognise your mistakes and the opportunities you might have missed, and make sure you do not repeat them in the coming year.

Are you happy?

If you are in a job you do not love doing, it is bound to stress you to some extent. So ask yourself if you are passionate about your job role and happy working where you are. If not, ask yourself which aspect of it makes you unhappy. If you can find what is stressing you, you can then work on changing it. That might mean working on a different project, in a different team, or a different job altogether. Most of the time, little changes can go a long way!

Could you do better in a different job?

If your current employer isn’t in a position to help you achieve these goals, know that there are other companies out there that are looking for someone with the kind of drive and commitment that you’ve got in droves. It might also be worth noting that you may not be alone in your thought process that the New Year is the time for a change. 

Make Sure You’re On The Right Path – are you really doing what you want to do? Does what you think you should be doing interfere with what you want to be doing? None of the above suggestions will work if your career isn’t aligned with your true interests, personality traits and natural abilities. If a career assessment is in order, make this your first priority.

When it comes to careers, the New Year isn’t just an arbitrary point on the calendar it really is one of the best times to look for a new job. There are two reasons for this. First, the job market naturally slows down towards the end of December and picks up again towards the end of January. Secondly, research suggests that aligning a career goal to a “temporal landmark” such as New Year really does make you more likely to succeed. This is often called “the fresh start effect”. So take a deep breath, take the time to reflect and refresh and take the first step towards that move you’ve been waiting for! If you are looking for further advice about your go-to market strategy then please give us a call. In the meantime, have a great Christmas and all the best for 2020!