In Psychology Today.com, I talk about how you can shore up your job and career skills for 2010, and I’d like to address that here. I also hope that the New Year brings you much joy in your career, and life!
Many had to settle for a less-than-agreeable (or bad) boss, take a pay cut, or were laid off in 2009. But 2010 is upon us, and here’s a brief metaphor: 2010 is the Chinese Year of the Tiger, and the tiger is known for its strength and strategic skills in getting results. Without being a predator, you can be aggressive about achieving your career goals in the New Year.
First, decide what your heartfelt objectives are, then set your own rules. You do possess needed skills and company know-how. Replacing you costs time and money. So if you like the job you’re currently in, but not the terms, now is the time to fine-tune them to dial up your satisfaction level.
Assess your weaknesses. Clarify what you want more, or less of. How can you better manage your boss or co-workers? Learn how to better control office challenges by through reading, training and professional development. If fear has held you back, consider if it’s time to move on to the “great unknown.” Design your career objectives based on what would bring you the best long-term happiness. Then, pounce.
Regardless of your choice, the macro environment we’re in dictates a few requirements that will keep you at the top of your game:
• Make human relations skills your priority for 2010. Just because it’s a tech world on steroids doesn’t mean we must lose our humanity. In fact you can counter this trend by increasing yours. Even if those around you regress to virtual toddlers (Terrible Office Tyrants, or TOTs, as I call them) in the pressure cooker recession environment, ratchet up your “interpersonal intelligence” to set you apart from the rest in 2010.
• Take the initiative. Like so many aspects of achieving success, maintaining an objective, healthy perspective and being a proactive problem solver can make all the difference. Learn how to manage up and around you when the need arises. Reinforce positive behavior with your boss and others, which is a transferable skill.
• Keep Your Eye on the Prize. Despite the prevalent “sky is falling” mood in corporate America, stay focused and positive on fulfilling your career dreams. When things are in flux, chances for advancement can unfold before you at any time – if you allow them to. That practice will be contagious to most any boss and inspiring to co-workers.
• Reach Out – With Precision. Regardless of whether you’re making job move, networking is essential to career success, and who you know does make a difference. However, choose your venues wisely; time is a non-renewable resource. Master social networking tools, such as LinkedIn groups, blogs and Twitter, as well as targeted trade groups in your area. Reach out to contacts who are helpful, but also be of value to others in return.
• What Are You Saying? With text messaging, e-mails and hurried memos, your writing skills can deteriorate into a terse, nonsensical mess. Recipients may spend needless time trying to decipher what you mean, or worse, take it the wrong way. Take classes in writing and public speaking so that you can better sell your ideas and put your best foot forward in business.
• The 2.0 You. No matter how much experience you have, you can always become more tech savvy. Now is the time to not only upgrade, but to learn skills outside your comfort zone. Jobs are becoming increasingly specialized over time, and so is software that supports those positions. The willingness to learn continually is an invaluable asset.
Make 2010 the year of bold decision-making that you may have been putting off. (Just be careful to sharpen your skills, not your claws, as you set your sights on your goal.)
A sunny, helpful, open and positive disposition – combined with a thirst for knowledge – are the real “killer” skills that will last beyond 2010. They will last a lifetime.