Time for your 2016 career tune-up?

Most of us schedule an annual physical with our doctors, and we get our teeth cleaned every six months. We even change the oil in our cars about every 3,000 miles. But, when it comes to our careers, we expect things to keep humming along without much care.

Our careers require regular maintenance, too! Without proper attention, even the most successful careers will begin to sputter and eventually break down. A few warning signs that you are past due for a professional tune-up include having a dated skillset, a complacent attitude at work or a dwindling network.

Some career-maintenance activities will help ensure that you find success in 2016 and beyond:

  • Scan the horizon: People who thrive in their careers are not just heads down at work. Every so often they look up to assess what is on the horizon in their industries. They stay abreast of new technologies, certifications and specializations that will be needed to remain competitive.

I often suggest that clients look at a few postings for the kind of work they are doing now. Many are surprised to find that they barely qualify for their own jobs! Attending industry-specific conferences and being active in professional organizations are two ways to ensure you remain up to speed on what’s new and next in your field.

  • Deepen connections: Having a strong personal and professional network is key to our career health as well as our overall well-being. Networking need not be an awkward job search ploy. No one wants to be contacted by a long-lost colleague only when they need help finding a job. Don’t be that person!

A key part of a career tune-up includes nurturing relationships inside your company, within your industry and across the community. Join a relevant meetup or lively networking group. Volunteer. Take up a hobby. Schedule regular lunch dates with coworkers, colleagues and friends.

Be helpful to others and give of your time and talents. When you do this authentically, it will be much easier to ask for help without feeling uncomfortable. Always assess the quality of a professional relationship before asking for assistance. In other words, don’t expect more from someone than the relationship warrants.

  • Create a master résumé: Many clients come to me with résumés that are 10 or 20 years old. It then takes considerable time and effort to update and target the document. You may lose a contract opportunity or be unable to meet an application deadline because you could not apply in a timely manner.

Creating a master résumé that outlines your professional history can keep you nimble in today’s job market. A master résumé should include career highlights from positions held in the past 10 to 15 years as well as key accomplishments from your current position.

Having a continually updated résumé makes it easier to quickly target an application packet for specific positions. Being able to quickly articulate the value you provide also can help you justify a raise or negotiate a better job offer. A master résumé also can be used as the foundation for updating your online profile.

Career planning and management can be complex. We have many more jobs over our lifespans,  and each career decision we make shapes and impacts future opportunities. Seeking out career counseling to set yearly goals and create an action plan can be just as important to our wellbeing as scheduling an annual physical.

If you have been coasting along without much thought to what is next in your career, now is the time to take proactive steps to ensure you are ready for your next professional venture. Here is to your success in 2016 and beyond!

Carrie Pinsky is a freelance writer, job-search coach and training specialist. Reach her at Pink Sky Counseling and Career Services, 970-225-0772 or www.pink-sky.net.

Most of us schedule an annual physical with our doctors, and we get our teeth cleaned every six months. We even change the oil in our cars about every 3,000 miles. But, when it comes to our careers, we expect things to keep humming along without much care.

Our careers require regular maintenance, too! Without proper attention, even the most successful careers will begin to sputter and eventually break down. A few warning signs that you are past due for a professional tune-up include having a dated skillset, a complacent attitude at work or a dwindling network.

Some career-maintenance activities will help ensure that you find success in 2016 and beyond:

  • Scan the horizon: People who thrive in their careers are not just heads down at work. Every so often they look up to assess what is on the horizon in their industries. They stay abreast of new technologies, certifications and specializations that will be needed to remain competitive.

I often suggest that clients look at a few postings for the kind of work they are doing now. Many are surprised to find that they barely qualify for their own jobs! Attending industry-specific conferences and being active in professional organizations are two ways to ensure you remain up to speed on what’s new and next in your field.

  • Deepen connections: Having a strong personal and professional network is key to our career health as well as our overall well-being. Networking need not be an awkward job search…