Your Career Action Plan for the New Year


The community of resume writers, career coaches, and other career experts called the Career Collective, of which I am a member, was asked to blog this month about job search in the new year. I am posting this guest entry by Deborah Walker, along with links to other members’ responses at the end of this entry. Please follow our hashtag on Twitter: #careercollective.
A Guest Post by Deborah Walker People make New Year’s resolutions with the best intentions, but they often fail for lack of a solid action plan. If you’ve resolved for the new year to move your career forward into a new industry, occupation or level of responsibility, increase your chances of success with this three-part action plan focused on results. 1. Know your career objective
2. Update your resume and cover letters
3. Update your network and networking skills
1. Know your career objective
Knowing your career objective may sound obvious and easy. If, however, you are dissatisfied with your current position, it can be difficult to sort out the good from the bad. You may not fully understand the target of your dissatisfaction: Is it your job or your employer; your company’s culture or your supervisor? Analyzing what you want in a job is a good start in determining the best new job for you. If you are uncertain what type of position to focus on, start by identifying the transferable skills you enjoy(ed) using in your current or past positions. A professional career coach can help in sorting out what you want to keep and, more importantly, what you want to avoid in your next position. 2. Update your resume and cover letters
If it has been a while since your last job search, your resume may no longer reflect your current career direction. Don’t forget the most important elements of a strong resume — solid achievements that illustrate your transferable skills, and key words and phrases to capture employers’ attention and interest. Cover letters can make the difference between a warm reception or a cold shoulder. While it’s true that not all resume screeners read cover letters, those who do are never impressed — and are often put off — by cover letters that sound phony or mass-produced. If you are uncertain of your resume-writing skills, a professional resume writer can transform your so-so resume and cover letters into true selling tools. 3. Update your network and networking skills
A good job-search network consists of all those people who can provide information about future or current career opportunities. You say you don’t have a network? You probably do, but you just haven’t thought about people who could fit this category. Start by identifying groups of people that you are in contact with regularly, such as professional associations, church, college alumni groups, and neighborhood associations. Then identify the individuals within those groups with whom you feel comfortable and who could help you learn of job leads. Many of my resume and coaching clients lament their poor networking skills. I always tell them not to worry; they are in good company because most people feel inadequate when it comes to networking. Before you dismiss the value of a strong network, remember: In securing all-important job interviews, it’s very often not what you know but who you know. Many resources are available for learning how to build and utilize a network to your job-search advantage: books, online articles, workshops, and career coaches trained in the most effective networking techniques. Once you’ve put your job-search action plan into practice, you’ll be on your way to a better job and a better life. Deborah Walker is a Certified Career Management Coach. Her expertise includes resume writing and career coaching. She holds membership in the National Resume Writer’s Association. As a former headhunter, her advice comes from an insider’s prospective based on years working with HR professionals and corporate hiring managers. Visit Deb on the Web. Or email her for a free resume critique/price quote at The January 2011 Career Collective Links: ul>
  • 4 Lessons Learned From Job Search in 2010, @Careersherpa
  • Trends Job Seekers Should Look For in 2011, @erinkennedycprw
  • Things Every Job Seeker Should be Thinking About in 2011, @expatcoachmegan
  • Let your presence be known or send out a red flag, @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes
  • How to find a job in 2011: Pay attention to emotional intelligence, @Keppie_Careers
  • 2011 Employment Trends Supercharged with Twitter, @KCCareerCoach
  • Everything old is new again @DawnBugni
  • Career Trend 2011: Accountability + Possibility = Sustainability, @ValueIntoWords
  • Career Tools to Check Out in 2011, @barbarasafani
  • What Was in 2010, What To Expect in 2011, @chandlee
  • The Future of Job Search: 3 Predictions and 2 Wishes, @JobHuntOrg
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