How To Change Your 5 Common Career Resolutions So You’ll Actually Be More Successful

Update some common career resolutions to be more effective, happy, and productive in 2016.

How To Change Your 5 Common Career Resolutions So You’ll Actually Be More Successful
[Photo: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images]

For many, a new year on the calendar means that it’s time for personal and professional goal-setting and resolutions. But, before you start mapping out your game plan for landing that new job or promotion, it might be time to think about whether the same old ways of getting ahead are actually holding you back, says Vicki Salemi, career expert at employment website Monster.


“Sometimes, in making our career resolutions, we think we’re being more effective by being incredibly busy,” Salemi says. “Instead, you need to manage your time and your energy.” Tweaking old-school resolutions to give them a more meaningful update can help you be more successful in the long run, she says.

Old Resolution: Land A Promotion

New resolution: Make a move that’s going to benefit my long-term career goals

Too often, we get caught up in moving up and don’t pay enough attention to building a solid foundation on which to grow our careers, Salemi says. Instead, take a holistic view of your career and where you want to go. Are there skills you will need in your advancement that you don’t currently have? In some cases, making a lateral move to build your experience may be the best thing you can do to strengthen your appeal as a promotion candidate later on, she says.

Old resolution: Network more

New resolution: Network thoughtfully

Everyone knows the importance of having a good network, but going to myriad events and collecting contacts isn’t the best way to go about it, says Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume, a personal branding website for professionals. However, Augustine says it’s much more important to build relationships. When you attend a networking event or otherwise work on building your contacts, have a goal in mind. Are you trying to meet new people in your industry? Build a relationship with someone you’ve only “met” on social media? Know what you want to accomplish and then work on building real relationships instead of more LinkedIn contacts.

“Every networking opportunity is really a first date, and you’re just beginning to build rapport. Really think about where you are spending your time,” she says.


Old resolution: Find a mentor

New resolution: Find a guide

Mentors are important, but too many people think that finding a seasoned, well-connected advisor is going to solve all of their career challenges, says career consultant Maggie Mistal, founder of MMM Career Consulting, a career coaching firm based in New York City. But giving up responsibility for your career by asking others what you should do isn’t the best way to grow. Instead, Mistal says it’s important to find someone who can act as a guide rather than a guru—someone who will help you find your own answers.

Old resolution: Spend less time on social media

New resolution: Be strategic on social media

Social media feels like a time suck that you should cut out, but it’s actually an important part of your personal brand, Augustine says. A recent survey by job search site CareerBuilder found that 35% of employers are less likely to interview a candidate if they can’t find anything about him or her online. So, instead of avoiding social media entirely, work on creating a social media presence that will attract prospective employers and support your personal brand. Create interesting content about your areas of expertise and show off your knowledge, she says.

Old resolution: Be more productive

New resolution: Focus on outcomes

Productivity is a hot topic in business and everyone seems to be trying to do more with fewer resources. However, too many people “confuse being busy with being productive,” Salemi says. You may need a certain amount of downtime to be productive or may have a process that doesn’t seem like the most productive, but works for you. Instead of focusing on how you do things, focus on what’s getting done. When you look at the outcomes you want, then you can determine what—if anything—needs to change in your process, she says.



About the author

Gwen Moran writes about business, money and assorted other topics for leading publications and websites. She was named a Small Business Influencer Awards Top 100 Champion in 2015, 2014, and 2012 and is the co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010), and several other books.