Late December and early January is often a time for self-reflection and self-evaluation, which can lead to what is commonly called a New Year’s resolution. For some, making a New Year’s resolution related to career development — or even a new career altogether — might be the obvious next step. Recent research from Robert Half’s State of U.S. Hiring Survey found that 57% of respondents plan to add new full-time positions in the first half of 2024. Additional research found that roughly half of employers (51%) plan to increase starting salaries in 2024 to attract skilled talent. With that in mind, it might pay to give some thought to your career when it comes to New Year’s resolution.
But just what is a New Year’s resolution? And when it comes to your career, what’s the right approach for you? It’s not always easy to tell, as we all have highs and lows in the course of our work duties, whatever job we currently have. As is the case with art, you may not be able to precisely define a New Year’s resolution, but you’ll know it when you see it — or feel it. To some extent, you’ve got to trust your instincts, and you can get a better idea of what your instincts are telling you by taking an internal survey of your career development plan. But what if you don’t have a formal career development plan? Even if that’s the case, it’s possible that you have strong feelings that your path needs some attention. In other instances, the awareness that you’re going nowhere fast in your career slowly dawns over an extended period of time.
Either way, the approach of a new year in late December and the start of a new year in January is a good opportunity to set aside some time for taking stock of how you feel about your current job and overall career satisfaction. Professionals have greater career opportunities than ever before, and greater flexibility to move around and climb the jobs ladder. So, if you feel like your career is stagnating, you may only have yourself to blame. At the end of the day, career management is your own responsibility. If you’ve got the skills, talent and experience, all you need to be successful is a little drive and personal ambition. Ask yourself if you are happy with just treading water for years on end until you retire, or do you want to make the most of your potential? It’s always a good time to evaluate your current job and your career in general, but the new year specifically is a good time because so many people and companies are reordering their own priorities as the calendar turns from one year to the next. The time may be exactly right for you to make the move you want to make. SEARCH OUR JOBS TODAY Do you feel like you need to set a New Year’s resolution for a new career or career development tailored to your current field? If any of these indicators apply to you, then it could mean that your career needs a change and that it may be time to look for a new job.
If you’re doing the same work each day and can effectively complete it in your sleep, then you need a new challenge. There’s nothing wrong with doing a job you’re good at, but there comes a point where you have to ask a little more of yourself. This means moving up the ladder. If you stay at the same level, without targeting a better job, you’re likely to regret it in the years to come. Do you really want to be completing the same old duties year in and year out for the same salary until you retire? What is your ultimate career ambition, and where do you stand now on the path to achieving it?
If you’re no longer gaining new skills and experience in the workplace, it may suggest that your career needs a change. Should you fail to add new qualifications or develop practical skills over an extended period of time, it will leave a hole in your resume. This could make it more difficult to get a new job in the future should you set your signs on a different role. The new year is a good time to take stock of how your professional development is unfolding and what changes you can make to help direct it in a way that best suits your career plans.
If you’re continuing to work hard for your employer but receiving little extra in return, it suggests you’ve been in the same job too long. By failing to secure a promotion or move to a different organization, you risk underselling your professional services. The longer you go without a decent pay rise, the greater the likelihood that you’re being underpaid. But how do you know how much you should be earning? Consult the Salary Guide From Robert Half to benchmark what salaries are for someone doing your job, and then compare it to your existing salary. If you’re at the lower end of the earnings bracket, you might want to look for a new job — or at the very least, attempt to negotiate a pay raise. To get an idea of what salaries are where you live, use Robert Half’s Salary Calculator
Do you find it difficult to see eye-to-eye with your boss? If so, this could be a sign that you’re getting frustrated at work and your career needs a change. Perhaps, deep down, you think you could do their job better than they can. If there are unresolvable tensions impacting on your job satisfaction and performance, it’s time to consider a new job.
If you’re a more than a capable employee who always delivers results and can be relied upon to do so, there’s a danger your employer may start taking you for granted. Your workload may gradually creep up over time, without you receiving anything extra in return. If you appear to be happy working in the same role, your bosses aren’t going to want to change anything. It’s up to you to make sure this situation doesn’t arise, and the best way to do so is to keep pressing for the next career development opportunity.
If you have skills you’re not using in your current job, this is a waste. Is there something else you could be doing that would allow you to maximize your potential? Niche skills — those which few other people possess — may bring a handsome salary if you find a company in need of the skill set you bring to the table. This is something to consider as you ponder a New Year’s resolution related to your career.
If your organization isn’t doing the volume of business it once was and is possibly even laying off some of its workforce, then it might not be in your long-term interest to remain in your current job. Should the company go out of business, you may not only find yourself out of work, but end up losing out financially in the long run, as well. It’s perhaps best to be proactive and jump ship before you are pushed overboard.
Should a staffing agency get in touch and invite you to apply for a particular role, then why not go for it? Employers often hire recruiters to find suitable candidates to fill their vacancies, and if you make it onto their radar, it’s a clear sign you could be successful at landing an interview. If you’ve been contacted by a talent solutions firm, it means you are in a strong negotiating position when it comes to pay and benefits — you may be able to command a premium for joining a different organization.
You only get one professional life, so it’s up to you to make the most of it. Building a New Year’s resolution is a process that, when done properly, can help to guarantee long-term career success. You don’t necessarily have to resolve to focus on an astronomical salary or going to work for a major organization as a New Year’s resolution, but approaching the new year with an attitude of trying to make the most of the abilities you have can certainly help lead you to better-paying jobs with successful companies. If you enjoy your job, have good relationships with your colleagues and are engaged with your organization’s mission, it can be easy enough to keep working in the same role indefinitely. But in doing so, there’s a danger you’ll go stale as a professional, miss out on career development opportunities, and ultimately fail to reach your potential. You need to accept responsibility for your career management. It’s increasingly rare for individuals to join an organization straight out of high school, college or specialized training and remain with them for their entire career. This may have occurred commonly in years gone by, but the “job-for-life” approach to earning a living is, by and large, a thing of the past. Being open to new opportunities can help you sustain the motivation to keep giving your all, whatever your role may be at any given time. There’s nothing stopping you from finding the right career path other than your own reluctance to pursue it. If you’ve been battling career inertia, the new year delivers an opportunity for you to break through the resistance and move forward with confidence.