When I was made redundant several years ago, I had a great job that I loved and a baby on the way. At six months pregnant no one wanted to hire me for similar roles to what I had been doing, so I had to re-think. I’d been planning on taking 12 months maternity leave anyway, so was lucky I had some breathing space to work out what I needed to do. Taking charge of your career and ensuring you do everything in your power to remain competitive is a great New Year resolution but where do you start? Here are 6 tips to help you on the way:

1.  Update Your Resume – have a new Resume ready to go and don’t wait until you’re ready to apply. I encounter many clients who come across the perfect job, get approached by a company who wants to see their resume, or even get made redundant out of the blue. They then have to rush the process of updating or creating a new Resume. Update your resume today and make sure you keep it updated for the future.

2.  Don’t be Bashful – employers want to know what you’re good at and what you can do for them. It’s no point being self-conscious when you’re talking about yourself. You need to be prepared to discuss your achievements in a way that resonates with potential employers, so they want to hire you. Your achievements don’t always have to all be quantifiable with $ or numbers, but they need to be accomplishments that made a difference to your company’s performance and they need to be clearly articulated in your job application. Make a note every time you achieve something you’re proud of or receive some positive feedback – that way, when you go to update your resume or have an upcoming interview, you’ll have the information on hand.

3.  Think About Change – why do you want to change jobs? It’s no point thinking “I don’t like my job, so I’ll get a new one”. Put some thought into the areas that make you unhappy and what you most enjoy doing, then seek out roles and companies that can provide more of the latter.

4.  Keep Learning – are you learning new skills in your current role? If you’re not, you need to work out how you can. We all need to continuously learn to ensure solid future career prospects. If your work environment doesn’t provide that opportunity, then you need to take it upon yourself to enrol in courses, take up volunteer work, or offer to take on more (different) tasks and responsibilities in your current role. Learning new skills can also help you take your career in a different direction if that’s what you’re aiming for.

5.  Research – even if you are not actively seeking a new job, you should regularly search job sites and other avenues to see what’s out there. As a Resume Consultant, I advise people to mould themselves to the jobs they want to achieve, not where they are right now. By understanding where you want to be in the future, you can take action now to achieve that. This could be taking on new responsibilities and tasks as mentioned in TIP number 4, starting some study or completing short courses, or networking outside of your company to foster relevant contacts. By understanding what companies are looking for in the roles you want to achieve, and ensuring you develop those skills and expertise, you will be better placed to achieve results when the time comes.

6. Build Your Network – use LinkedIn and create a high quality professional profile. Connect with people inside and outside of your current company, interact with others, participate in online forums, share information, answer questions, post links, and follow companies you’d like to work with. You need to build your networks and credibility within those networks because research shows that word of mouth and professional networks are fast becoming one of the primary sources of new hires.

Take action today and every day to ensure your career remains firmly within your control, and more importantly that you are perfectly placed to take advantage of any opportunities as they arise.

Would you like help from a Career Advisor to take charge of your career in 2014? If so, please see our Career Coaching Services.

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