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10 Career Resolutions

January 1st may have come and gone, but it's never too late to craft some resolutions, especially when it comes to your career. And, with dark economic clouds continuing to loom over us, many people may simply write off any possibility of new employment. However, the hiring cycle is fluid — no matter the market conditions, there are always companies looking to hire talented professionals.

Here are 10 tips to ensure you're prepared to take advantage of new career opportunities.

Know what skills are in demand

Each year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other employment sources conduct studies to determine areas where there is a growing gap in the number of workers needed to fill job openings. Based on data from 2011, CareerBuilder projects a current and upcoming need for cloud developers, registered nurses, business intelligence analysts, quality engineers, truck drivers, SEO strategists and healthcare administrators. Use these sources to find out if the need for your function is growing or shrinking – and adapt your career plans based on these projections.

Invest in training and development

Many people leave their career development up to their current employers. But in a time of expense watching and cost cutting, this may be short-sighted. No one is more in tune with your current skill set than you. Spend some time finding the holes in your game and fixing them. Professional associations, local colleges, continuing education programs and online courses offer a plethora of low-cost training opportunities.

Make a concentrated effort to network

Like sales, networking comes easily to some people and is excruciating for others. The good news is that online social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook have become a common ground for keeping in touch and re-connecting with past colleagues, friends and family. If you are introverted and it’s easier to network online, use these tools to your advantage.

For those who prefer face-to-face interactions, set up networking meetings or informational interviews to learn more about a certain organization, technology or different industries and functions. Just make sure, no matter the networking road you take, always remember it’s a two way street – give your associates something of value in return for their time and goodwill.

Connect with like-minded people

There isn’t a profession or industry on earth that doesn’t have a trade association, user group, online discussion board or fan club. Find one relevant to you and join it. Whether you are currently employed or not, opportunities flow from being around like-minded people and professional associations and communities are where you need to be. They are a great way for uncovering hidden jobs, furthering your knowledge and connecting with like-minded people.

Dedicate time

Being successful at any endeavor takes time, dedication and energy. If you are trying to further your career or secure a new job, find a way to carve out the hours necessary to attend networking meetings, training courses and search for new leads and contacts. Establish goals and set aside the time it will take to accomplish them.

Try temporary work

Many organizations, especially those impacted by the recession, are still wary of taking on additional headcount. To supplement lean staffs and complete critical projects, they turn to temporary staff. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 36 percent of companies will use a temporary staffing firm in 2012.

If you are out of work, consider a temporary position or contract assignment. Not only will temp work keep your skills sharp, it can give you a chance to learn about new companies and industries. It can also be your chance to show off your talents and expertise to a potential employer, which could lead to a new reference or a permanent job with that organization. (For more information, watch our video blog on the benefits of contract work.)

Craft a compelling resume

Most resumes follow a chronological format – overview, titles, tasks, accomplishments and education – which is helpful for hiring managers to see a progression in experience and skills. Make sure your document also explains the strategies and tactics you were responsible for and the intangibles where you made a difference. It doesn’t have to be overly long or detailed, but back up any success claims with real facts and examples.

Sell yourself

Unless you are in sales or a role where you regularly explain your duties, you are probably not used to – and uncomfortable with – talking about yourself, your attributes and shining moments. Advancing in your career or finding a new job requires you to balance humility with bravado. Your resume or a relationship may open a door, but you have to be prepared to march through it with confidence.

Find a way to get over any discomfort when talking about yourself and your accomplishments. The best job candidate is one who truly believes he or she has something unique to offer and can articulate their message with words, body language and confidence.

Keep your eyes open

In uncertain job markets, many people think it’s safer to stay with their current employer than to risk taking a job with a new company – and sometimes it is. But don’t bury your head in the sand and hope that everything will be okay.

Even in the best of times, companies routinely are merged, acquired, imploded and overtaken, sometimes leaving hundreds of people looking for new jobs. Always be aware of business conditions and keep your eyes and ears open for when it is the best time to move on.

Be ready to move

To be successful in a job search, you have to be ready to strike when the iron is hot. Whether your plan is to search high and low for a new job or sit back and wait for an opportunity to present itself, make sure you have all the foundation pieces in place to be successful.

Update your resume, prepare a compelling story to tell about why you would consider a new opportunity and know who you would use for references. Start becoming mentally and emotionally ready for a change so you are better prepared when it happens. 

Photo Credit: ManagerLink