This is a guest post by Caroline Ceniza-Levine, co-founder of SixFigureStart. If you’d like to be a guest writer here on Jobtrakr, we would love to have you. Just follow these guest writer guidelines.
A Month-By Month Guide To Your Career In 2012
You’ve heard the common wisdom on career management – be proactive, maintain your network, promote yourself more. If you look back at 2011 and you did these things, great! If you’re like the rest of us, there’s always 2012! Here is a month-by-month guide to key career actions to take, so that you can set your calendar now, you can rest assured that you have the whole year (not everything needs to get done tomorrow), and you will finally build time in for the career actions you know you should take:
January – Write your year-end performance review.
If you write your ending review from the beginning, you give yourself a roadmap for what to focus on throughout the year. Confirm that your expectations match with your boss’.
February – Schedule irregular but important PERSONAL appointments, including vacation.
Tax prep for April, important birthdays, medical appointments – these are not professional appointments per se, but having an orderly, fulfilling and healthy personal life enables you to be at your professional best. Yet, these important but not urgent activities often get ignored till the last-minute. Not this year! For a birthday, write in your specific action for the week before – e.g., order Nephew Apple iTunes gift card.
March – Schedule irregular but important PROFESSIONAL appointments, especially training.
You know you should be investing in expanding and maintaining your skills. Your company may offer workshops, but often you need to find this out and sign up in advance. Professional groups, community organizations and local colleges are other places to look. Even just a one-time workshop will help. Ideally, you block out a half day per month for a workshop, to catch up on professional journals, to interact with people and ideas outside your day-to-day work.
April – Confirm bonus, promotion, and raise decision process.
You need to know when these decisions are made, who is making them, and the criteria for deciding. If you wait till year-end, decisions are often already made or it’s too late to establish the right criteria to the right decision-makers. Build in a lot of time for this – target April for this research if your fiscal ends in December.
May – Attend an outside conference.
Go somewhere and meet people outside the office in an environment where everyone is trying to better themselves. Skill-based training, as recommended for March, is not sufficient. You need to put yourself out there where you can be seen and where you can meet others.
June – Conduct a mid-year performance review.
Are your January estimates still realistic? Check in with your boss – does s/he think you’re on track? Ideally, you are checking on your performance more frequently than this, but at a MINIMUM, do a mid-year check-in so you have time to course correct before year-end.
July – Update your online profile.
You’ve just given yourself a mid-year review, so while accomplishments and new skills are fresh in your mind, update your LinkedIn account. If one of your goals is to be more active in social media, use this time to set reminders for yourself on a weekly basis for when you will update your status or check on your profiles. Set up a Google alert on your name so you are notified when you are mentioned.
August – Update your resume.
Again, your year-to-date accomplishments are still fresh in your mind. I prioritize the online profile first because it’s definitely more important for passive job search and arguably more important even for active job search.
September – Take your vacation.
Ideally, you take time off intermittently throughout the year, but if you’re one of those who often forgo the longer vacation, schedule it now. You need to personally refresh to be at your professional best. You also need to know you can get away – if you can’t, you have a dysfunctional group and need to fix that. No one is that indispensable.
October – Meet with your accountant.
A strong financial foundation gives you the latitude to take smart career risks. By meeting your accountant now, you plan tax moves you need to make before year-end. If you need advice on retirement investing, flexible spending or other benefits-related issues, you have time to ask them before you need to select your company benefits (typically Nov).
November – Get a physical and other health-related appointments.
Hopefully you were prompted to do this when you scheduled your irregular but important personal appointments in February. You need energy to fuel your career. Taking care of your health is a key career move. Plus you can use up your flexible spending account before year-end.
December – Make your annual greetings. Ideally you network throughout the year, but at a minimum, take advantage of the holiday season to reach out to people you don’t regularly interact with. You don’t need a fancy holiday mailing. A personalized phone call or email can be even more effective.
Caroline Ceniza-Levine helps people find fulfilling and financially-rewarding career paths, as the co-founder of SixFigureStart®, career coaching by former Fortune 500 recruiters. She is the co-author of “Six Steps To Job-Search Success” 2011, Flat World Knowledge and co-host of the upcoming 90-Day Challenge. She is also a stand-up comic with Comic Diversity. Caroline welcomes your comments and questions.