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Updating your Career Plan for 2014

One of the biggest mistakes today's worker can make, is not have a plan for their career. Without a plan, it is easy to be victimized by circumstances beyond your control.

Now is a good time to take out that written career plan that you used for 2013 and give it an update for 2014.  This is a good practice for all of us, because you can never tell when an unexpected layoff could occur.  The average American only keeps their job for 3.5 years. 

 Updating your career plan annually is a good idea whether you are working or searching for a new position.  For me the best time to do it is when the new corporate fiscal year is about to begin. You may pick another time to update your plan, for example on your birthday or after you file your taxes.  These are times when we reflect on the state of our lives and good time to update your career plan. 

 The start of the fiscal year in your industry is prime hiring time.  Corporate budgets have been set and manpower levels established.  Staffing approvals are set, so hiring managers that want to succeed with their 2014 plan are hiring.  Don’t get off to a slow start, even if you haven’t thought out your strategy for Q1. 

Some practical things that you can do right away. 

  1.  Make a list of your accomplishments for the past year.  It is always difficult to remember these as time progresses, so keep this list in your inventory of accomplishments.
  2. Update your Linkedin profile.  There are always changes that you can make. Changed profiles pop up on a recruiters screen as they search for candidates. It is your accomplishments that catch interest, so update you top accomplishments for the year in your profile.
  3. Refresh your resume and re-post it on every web site where you have it posted it previously.  If you are actively seeking a new position, you should be doing this weekly.  The longer your resume is posted on a site, let’s say Craigslist, the further back it will be on the list as recruiters search for candidates.  Your resume could be 2 or 3 pages back when a search is done.  Refresh it, so it pops up on the first page.
  4. Job seekers cannot ignore Facebook or Twitter, for a couple of reasons.  If you have an account on one of these social networking sites, you have to manage the information posted.  Employers will search for information on these sites.  If they don’t other employees will, especially if you are in management.  Make sure you manage your privacy settings, keep family information separate from your business information. 

Secondly, these social networking sites are the future of job searching.  They are evolving rapidly and you need to manage your image or brand.  Take charge, you will come off as technically savvy. 

Get started on your strategy for 2014.  It may be obvious that you cannot keep searching for the kinds of jobs you had in the past.  Your industry may be retrenching or it simply is not practical to keep focusing your old job position.  Strategy starts with brainstorming possible job positions and industries that are expanding.  Write down your strategy, even if it is not perfect. 

Expand your target job positions and industries to give yourself more choices.  Find a posting, even if it is outside of your geographic target, use it as a model to re-craft your resume to target that job position, open or not within your geographic area.  Then post the new resume on Craigslist, Hotjobs, Simplyhired and Indeed.   

Not everyone has a written career plan or job search plan.  If you don’t have one it is hard to go back and take an inventory of your search effort.  So now is the time to convert your strategy to a plan.   I have a free job search planning kit which was created by a group that I used to be a part of, write to me, and I will send you one. 

Not having a written plan is a huge time waster for job seekers.  Not only is it difficult to take inventory of your effort, but people tend to think and rethink their strategy on the fly.  This can end up in countless hours of vacillation.  Do your critical thinking on paper.  Then work your plan by doing campaigns based on the job position and organizations that you are targeting.  If your plan is written then you can come back, like now, and make changes that are sensible and productive.  Hiring managers appreciate interviewing candidates that have a thoughtful plan. 

For most people, now is the time to develop your Q1 strategy and make changes to your plan for 2014.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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