9 end-of-year career decisions to help you finish 2016 strong
Before you set your out-of-office email and leave for vacation, make sure you’ve cleared the deck (and your desk) for 2017.
As December wraps up, you might be laser-focused on holiday shopping, PTO, and lots of hot cocoa—maybe even a handsome bonus from your employer. But before you check out entirely, use these last few days to make some small but meaningful career moves and you’ll be ready to make 2017 your best career year ever.
“Many employees mentally check out during the holidays,” says Belinda Plutz, founder of New York-based Career Mentors Inc. She says, however, the key is to stay engaged and use December to productively wrap up the year.
So, take a few minutes away from online shopping (it’s OK, everyone does it), hold off on the office eggnog for now, and take these action steps to close the book on 2016—for good.
Solicit feedback from your boss
Although many companies have done away with performance reviews, it’s still beneficial to get constructive criticism from your manager on a quarterly basis. So if you haven’t had a check-in meeting with your boss in a while, now is a great time to schedule one before the year is out to discuss your performance.
You can keep the conversation positive by saying, “I’m really glad to be working here. I hope I’m exceeding your expectations. I’d love to know how I could improve my performance.”
Align your goals with your manager’s
While reflecting on this year’s achievements, assess what goals you didn’t quite accomplish and create a strategy for how you’ll attain them in the new year—then present your plan to your boss.
“Getting on the same page as your manager is crucial,” says Los Angeles millennial career and business coach Ashley Stahl, who advises setting not only annual but also first-quarter goals. By proactively completing a year-end review of yourself, you’ll show your boss that you’re serious about meeting those goals in 2017.
Explore career development opportunities
Many companies set training budgets in December., so this is the perfect time to let your boss know about a conference or class that you’d like to attend in the coming year.
By discussing these opportunities now, you’ll make it easier for your manager to say yes—because there will be money in the budget. When presenting your request, “explain how it’s going to benefit the company,” says Plutz. If you’ve recently taken over the company’s social media page, sharpening your copywriting skills could be key. Or if you’re now in charge of budgets, an advanced Excel course could make you a more efficient employee.
Touch up your resume and online profile
Even if you haven’t added a new job title or company to your resume this year, .take stock of your accomplishments and where appropriate, use numbers to quantify them on your resume. (e.g., exceeded sales goals by 50%).
Also, refresh your LinkedIn profile. Since you have more space than what you’re allotted on a one-page resume, your profile should give deeper insight into who you are and what you do, says Marcelle Yeager, president of Career Valet, a professional coaching firm. Yeager recommends using the summary section to explain why you’re passionate about working in the field (something every employer likes to hear).
Connect with customers
If you’re in a customer or client-facing position, use the holidays as an opportunity to check in and ask for feedback. This is especially important if you’re in a commission-based job. “Asking clients for input shows that you care,” says Yeager. An added bonus: you can also share positive feedback with your manager.
To go the extra mile, send clients handwritten holiday cards. In fact, there might be room in the budget for holiday gifts to important clients, says Plutz. (Ask your boss to find out.)
Reach out to cold contacts
The holiday season is a good time to reconnect with professional connections who you’re no longer in touch with, including, college professors, past internship managers, and alumni. “This is the only time of year that you can reach out to people with no agenda, only good wishes,” says Plutz. Instead of sending a generic email, take the time to write personal holiday greetings.
Plutz adds that you need at least two touches a year to keep professional relationships going, so make a note in your calendar to follow up with people in June or July.
Network with employees in other departments
As the office clears out for the holidays, you may have a little more down-time. Don’t isolate yourself by sitting at your desk all day. Get to know co-workers outside your team and learn about the work that they do. They may also be looking to connect with a new friend in the very empty office.
Start with a short introductory email: “Happy holidays. I don’t think we’ve met. I’d love to grab coffee and learn a little about you and what you do.”
Don’t forget about the ultimate networking opportunity: your office holiday party. Resist the urge to cling to the co-workers you already know and branch out a bit. “Employees don’t do enough internal networking,” says Stahl. Buck that trend and set a goal to say hello to at least two new people.
Crack open your employee handbook
Remember that packet you received during the onboarding process? If you’re like most people, it’s probably gathering dust in a drawer somewhere. Now is a good time to dig it out. Why? For one thing, you might discover perks or benefits that you might not know about.
“Your handbook would include information on tuition reimbursement or career development opportunities,” says Stahl. So take a peek at the hardbound version of your employee handbook or check out the intranet to make sure you’re getting the most out of what your company has to offer you.
Start the year with a clean slate—literally
If your desk looks like a disaster zone, take time to clean and organize your workspace; this entails not only tossing old food containers but also filing important paperwork.
While you’re in de-cluttering mode, purge your inbox by sifting through unread emails. Tackling both tasks will give you a fresh start for the New Year, says millennial career coach Crystal Marsh.