The fresh slate of a new working year is a very enticing prospect. New start, new habits, new you… And all those other high-and-mighty mirages you see looking out upon your workplace desert.
Unfortunately, within a week or two of being back most of us will have slipped back into old habits and coffee consumption patterns to get through the week.
Thankfully, there are a five rockets you can work into your current routine that will ensure this year cranks your career along, even without the ‘new you’ on board.
Find a Partner
The trick to getting ahead in any workplace is being great at what you do, and that’s made a helluva lot easier if you can avoid making the same mistakes others have in the past.
How do you do that? Get in the ear of a senior figure and learn all you can from the pot-holed path they’ve trodden.
Find some leading light that you respect and trust and establish a mentor-type relationship with them. As we’ve said before, it doesn’t need to be formal, but it does need to be done.
If you’re a bit rattled by this idea, here’s a run-down on exactly how to find a mentor and get the most out of them.
Tailor Your Work
Start being more proactive about the work you do and the skills you’re building. Figure out the key things you need to learn to nail a promotion or new job and try to align the projects you work on with building these skills.
If there’s someone to teach you within the business, great. If not, here’s your opportunity to become the resident expert. Because when you’re the go-to guy for something, you quickly climb a couple of rungs on the ladder.
If there’s no room to change up your day to day work, or no chance of self-teaching a skill, ask your employer whether they’ll pay for you to complete an external course. It’ll cost them peanuts and be a big benefit to you both.
Pay Closer Attention
Nothing says go-getter like a breaking a bit of industry news. Not finding it first – leave that to the papers – but letting your colleagues in on a tit-bit you’ve picked up by having your ear so obviously to the ground.
This tells everyone that you’re informed, intellectual and interested in the industry. Tick, tick, tick, as far as your career prospects are concerned.
And it’s not that hard to do either. Flick a few industry-relevant groups in your Facebook news feed and listen to a couple of canny influencers on LinkedIn and you’ll be away.
It’s often the case that everyone in a business gets so busy and stuck with their blinkers on until something snaps – a colleague quits, a contract is lost, a new boss comes in – and only then do they pop their heads up to see what everyone’s been doing.
That quiet can mean time flies without a pay rise, promotion or any real career progress.
So to ensure you’re always heard and colleagues are aware of your input and presence, you need to speak up. Provide your input at meetings, ask for promotions and pay-rises when you feel they’re warranted and rattle the cage a bit by suggesting improvements to processes and new ways of doing things when they come to mind.
It might sound scary at first, but speaking up can accelerate your career out of sight.
Update Your CV
It’s very easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day that you fail to appreciate the great job that you’re doing, which is fine if your boss recognises you and you’re rewarded commensurately.
But that’s often not the case.
To make sure you’re acutely aware of the value, breadth and volume of work you do, take a few hours to update your resume every six months.
It’ll highlight any skill gaps you need to fill, put your contributions top of mind when that next salary chat or head chopping comes along, and prepare you for any job opportunities that pop up throughout the year.
Light these five fuses now and I bet that come next January, you’ll be in a much better place with your work.
Image: Matt Biddulph, via Flickr