Many of us are using the new year to take stock of where we are and where we want to go. Taking an honest look at yourself, your value-add, and your areas to be strengthened is essential for making that next step forward. While having our career “just happen” is the luxury of the few, intentional work is generally more effective.

Here are some areas to consider as you assess where you are today and where you want to be!

  • Your satisfaction. Are you happy with your career? Your job? Your boss? If not, what needs to change? How, specifically, can you make that change? Write those things down; research is clear that if you’ve written something down (rather than just have it floating in your head), you are more likely to do it.
  • Your skills and abilities. Have you kept current in your field? Taken training, other than what is required? Are there areas that you’d like to fine-tune? Are their skills that you already have that could be even better? Do you see something new coming down the pike that you want to get a jump on? Put together a development plan if you haven’t already done so. Look for volunteer opportunities, as well as formal training. The Center for Creative Leadership conducted research that shows that 70% of learning comes from job-related experience while only 10% comes from formal education and training.
  • Your network: Research shows that as much as 30% of hiring is done on the basis of referrals. This is true whether you’re in the private sector or in government; most hiring managers want to hire someone they know—or someone that a trusted employee knows. Is your network up-to-date? The time to work on your network is before you’re looking for a job.
  • Your accomplishments: What did you accomplishment in 2019? Have you written those things down? Do your accomplishments have metrics associated with them? (if not, try to get numbers while they’re still easily accessible). Do your accomplishments answer the question “so what?” It’s not enough to say you did “x”—you need to show how “x” added value / made a difference to your employer. BONUS: if you don’t have a system already in place, create one to track your accomplishments.
  • Your social media: Do you have a social media presence—specifically LinkedIn? Is your LinkedIn up-to-date? Are you using it for networking? Are you following people? Contributing comments and content? When someone Googles your name, is what comes up professional and appropriate? Don’t make the mistake of thinking that people are not looking. You want to ensure that you put your best foot forward.
  • Your resume. Is it up-to-date? Are there things that can be removed? Should you add new accomplishments? Did you see any typos? Is the formatting and content consistent with what you’re targeting and modern resume writing?

Take advantage of the new year to take stock and see where you can improve to help move your career forward.

Nancy Segal is a federal human resources training and job search expert. Following her own 30-year federal HR career (much of it at the senior level), she founded Solutions for the Workplace LLC in 2003 to provide an HR management perspective to both federal managers and astute applicants to U.S. government positions. Nancy has unmatched federal career management insight, high standards, and respect for people’s time, and her clients use this to their advantage.