Career Advice

What Will Your Career Look Like in 2016?

Finding a new job has long been a top New Year’s resolution, and even in an improving job market, that is still a priority for many employees. But in order to move on to greener pastures, workers are going to have to upgrade their skills and pay at their current company. After all, the better you look on paper, the more you can command in a new job.

“When you are in a recession you hunker down and get a bunker mentality,” says Bill Driscoll, a district president at Accountemps. “A lot of people have found new jobs and now they want to develop their skills.

According to a recent Glassdoor survey, 45% of respondents said they are currently looking for a job. Meanwhile Accountemps found through a survey of 1,000 U.S. workers 27 percent of respondents are focused on developing skills and getting a raise in the New Year, while 15 percent want a promotion and 10 percent are interested in building a professional network.

Employees Need An Action Plan To Move Up

Wanting to move up within a company, whether it’s to boost your resume or to remain within the organization, is one thing. But actually doing it is an entirely different thing. In order to be successful, employees have to not only have a plan but be able to execute on it. And the main ingredient: viewing your job as a career, not just a pay check.

“When it comes to improving your job situation, it starts with having a passion for what you do and turning the work into a challenge,” says Jonathan Aspatore, chairman and Chief Executive of ExecRank, a marketplace for board members and advisors. “That way you will enjoy coming to work every day, putting yourself in a position to succeed.”

According to career experts, if building upon your skills and improving your weaknesses is what you are aiming for in 2016, then you have to be self-reflective to identify those areas that need improvement. That’s particularly important because you don’t want to spend your time working on an area that actually doesn’t need work. Once you have an idea of where you want to focus, bounce it off of your manager to see if you are both on the same page. Again, you don’t want your efforts to be for naught.

Aspatore says an effective way to consistently improve skills is to identify one to three areas at the start of the year that you want to further develop. By keeping the number manageable, he says you are more apt to achieve the goals. If you have a list of ten self-improvements for the year, odds are you won’t even complete one. “Identifying the goals is just the first step. You need to create an action plan for yourself that begins immediately in order to realize these goals,” says Aspatore. That could mean reading a book per quarter, taking an online class or networking with people who have specific expertise in the area you are trying to improve.

Make A Case Before Asking For A Raise

Asking your employer for extra training or courses isn’t going to be that hard to do since companies spend a lot to recruit and retain workers and want to keep them. But getting a raise in the New Year may not be that easy of a request for a company to swallow, which is why you are going to need to build a case before you make any inquiries. “Part of the evaluation of yourself is keeping track of what you accomplished and how well things have gone,” says Driscoll. For instance if you are in sales keep a running list of how much new business you generated for the company. If you are in accounting make sure you note any accomplishments like closing the books on time or identifying areas to cut costs. “Keeping track of accomplishments can apply to all different walks,” says Driscoll.

Requesting a raise isn’t something you should spring on your manager either. One of the best ways to achieve your goal is to first speak with your boss about specific ways to be worthy of a pay increase. You can even work with your manager to identify so-called stretch goals or those goals that can really boost your salary down the road, says Aspatore.

Ultimately companies are in the business of making money and if you can make a case as to how you can make more of it, your manager is apt to listen. By understanding where your company is heading and what their main focuses are you can figure out a way to position yourself to help and as a result become invaluable to the organization. “The best employees are the ones that have a positive attitude, constantly asking how they can help and demonstrating a genuine interest in the company, the employees, and the culture,” says Aspatore.