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3 Career Resolutions You Need to Make in 2014

3 Career Resolutions You Need to Make in 2014
Fireworks photo from flickr user wobble-san, licensed under creative commons.

The start of a new year is a great time to reflect on  what's been working well and what you'd like to change for the year ahead-- both in your personal and your professional life. Thinking about your core competencies, and the goals you'd like to accomplish in 2014, I propose three career resolutions you need to make for 2014 to make them happen:

  1. Create a career development plan
  2. Get a mentor/be a mentor
  3. Nurture your professional network

Create a career development plan

Whether your top career goal is to get promoted, find a new job, or expand your solopreneur business, setting concrete goals and creating a career development plan is key to helping you get there.

Why is it so important? Because it starts by defining your career goals, assessing both your strengths and areas for improvement, and then mapping your development goals to specific, measurable activities. Career development plans are not one size fits all! Simply attending a conference and a few random industry webinars doesn't cut it either. You need to create a personalized road map that focuses on what you need to learn and improve upon to attain your specific professional goals.

Get a mentor/be a mentor

Everyone can benefit from an outside point of view from time-to-time. That's where a mentor comes in. Ideally, you want to look for someone who is further along on your career path, whose experiences would be valuable to you as you carve out your career path. Or they can be someone who is exceptionally skilled in one of the competencies you ID'd in your career development plan as being one you need to work on.

Similarly, if you are an individual contributor looking to take on a management role, mentoring is a great way to give you hands-on coaching experience you'll be able to apply with your future direct reports. And if you are an experienced professional, with decades of experience under your belt, mentoring is a great way to give back to your profession and your community. 

Still not sold on the idea of mentoring? Check out this blog post on Convince & Convert on the virtuous cycle of mentorship.

Nurture your professional network

Don't be that person who only reaches out to former colleagues when they are looking for a new opportunity! Make time each week to reach out. Grab lunch once a week with a current or former colleague you don't see very often. Drop someone an email w/a link to an interesting article you read that made you think of them. Follow them on social media and share their blog posts. There are so many small ways to reach out that don't take much time, but make a significant impact on the receiving end.

If you need some ideas on more ways to reach out, check out this list of 52 random acts of kindness (that's one for each week of 2014); not all apply, but many of them do.

Keep yourself accountable

After you settle on your career resolutions, the best way to keep on track with them is to share the resolutions with your friends, family and support network. Ask them to help keep you accountable, and to cheer you on as you go. Now you're on your way to making 2014 a year full of career success.


How to use a portfolio career as an asset when applying for jobs

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One of the small complications of being a portfolio careerist is figuring out how to present your overlapping permanent positions and short-term projects on your resume, and then talking them through in an interview situation. 

Chances are, if you are applying for a position at an established, large organization, your recruiter is likely to start asking questions to the effect of "Are you going to use your time on the clock for us and our resources to pursue outside unrelated projects?" Which is why you need to head off that line of questioning at the pass by incorporating your portfolio career as part of the pitch for why you're the right hire for the position. Having been through this conversation a number of times over the course of my career, I've found the key factors for navigating this topic successfully are:

  • being transparent about your overlapping projects
  • reinforcing what you learned from the projects
  • clarifying what overlapping projects, if any, you have at the moment
  • ensuring you gain understanding from the recruiter and the hiring manager on the organization's policies about concurrent projects

Continue reading "How to use a portfolio career as an asset when applying for jobs" »


How to Recognize Your Portfolio Career in the Making

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It took a recent Forbes article and an email exchange with a self-employed friend to realize that I've been a longstanding portfolio careerist without knowing it. If you're not familiar with the term, a portfolio career is defined loosely as a variety of eclectic and frequently concurrent employment activities.

By that definition, I've been a portfolio careerist pretty much from the moment I graduated with my journalism degree and somehow ended up holding down a full-time job for a magazine, a part-time job for an alternative weekly newspaper posting content to their on-line community, and writing freelance articles on pop culture and arts topics. This pattern of having a full-time employer plus a 10-hour per week regular gig, or a significant amount of freelancing on the side has continued throughout most of my career. Why? Because it's the best way I know how to keep all of my marketing and communications skills sharp while ensuring I'm learning new things and conquering new challenges.

My self-employed friend is also a portfolio careerist. Her pattern looks a little different from mine, as she is typically juggling a part-time position with a small handful of short-term contracts or freelance assignments. But what we both have in common is having significant passion around multiple skills and interest areas, and a desire to apply them to meaningful work.

So, how do you recognize that you have a portfolio career in the making? You'll identify with or closely resemble the majority of these statements:

  • You have multiple jobs not due to financial necessity only, but rather because it allows you to pursue your varied interests
  • You feel invigorated by your many projects and extracurricular gigs
  • When employed full time, even while very busy and engaged with your work, you're researching other passions and daydreaming about how to incorporate them into your job
  • Has a primary motivator for having changed jobs in the past been that you were getting bored with the repetition of the day-to-day work?

If you closely resemble the above, then actively committing to a portfolio career might be the right career next step for you. But before you make the leap, check out this great free portfolio career assessment tool to see how you score.

I score high on the assessment, but having tried out full-time self-employment in the past, I realize my version of a portfolio career needs to have at least a part time on-site gig as one component. I need the mental stimulation and camaraderie of having a team with whom to brainstorm and collaborate.

What about you? What does your flavor of a portfolio career look like? And when did you first recognize yourself as a portfolio careerist?