Your Career Planning Checklist – Thoughts for the New Year

by: Fredia Woolf Friday, December 24th, 2010

No matter how senior you are in your organization or how secure you believe is your position, you would do well to take an entrepreneurial attitude toward your career. It is comforting to believe others will take care of you, and it’s easy to become either complacent or too busy to pay attention to yourself when there is so much work to do.  But, there are new habits and skills you should be adopting to ensure you remain in charge of your own professional growth and career development.

Here is the checklist to keep you sharp, up to date and ready to adapt to change:

Resumé

How current is your resumé? Do you revisit and revise it at least twice a year updating with new roles, responsibilities or titles? Do you keep a record of your accomplishments as you go along with thumbnail stories of problems you solved and the impact you have on your organization so that, should the time come that you need them, you can easily refresh your memory?  Does your resumé look attractive and easy to read? Or is it burdened with too many unnecessary details and generic descriptions that fail to present your unique talents and skills in the best light?

Network

Are you guilty of forgetting about people if you don’t regularly see them?  How many ways can you think of to maintain contact with the people in your network so you are not sheepishly forced to reconnect only when you need them?  How active are you outside of your workplace?  How active are you using virtual networks?  How much do you participate in relevant professional networks?  How often do you connect with other people in your organization outside of your immediate surroundings or role?  Would you be findable by anyone needing your skills?

Elevator speech

Do you have a “30-second commercial” – a clear, succinct description of who you are and what you do (or are looking to do) should you meet someone who does not know you?  Are you comfortable talking about yourself?  And, if you are someone who loves to talk about yourself, can you do so in a brief and compelling way?  If you tend to blather on about yourself, have some questions ready to ask others so the conversation is not entirely one way.  You will also be able to more specifically tailor what you say if you can relate it to what the other person has just told you.  When your elevator speech turns into a dialogue, you know you have succeeded in connecting.

Self-assessment

Are you up to date with your view of yourself?  Is your current situation meeting your current and future needs?  What might need adjusting, and to what do you need to pay attention in the coming year?  Have any big changes happened in your personal or work life this year that are impacting how you view the future?  What can be done about it?

Annual personal and professional goals

It is well known that people who take the trouble to write down their goals have a better chance of achieving them.  Why don’t you take some time to write down three personal and three professional goals for next year, and regularly revisit them?  Send me a note next year, and let me know how this works for you.

Long-range life and career plan

How does the upcoming year fit in with the big picture of what you would like for your life and career?  Are you treading water waiting for something to change?  What’s stopping you from taking those first steps? Use this checklist to get yourself back in charge of your career.

I’m wishing you all the best for a happy and successful new year.

Fredia Woolf, Founder of Woolf Consulting, blogs about career and workplace issues.  She provides Leadership coaching and Organizational “seasoning”, spicing up Productivity, Effectiveness, Performance, Personal Engagement, and Results (PEPPER), while enhancing Strategy, Alignment, Leadership, and Teamwork (SALT).  She can be contacted at fwoolf@woolfconsulting.com.

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