As well as vowing to eat fewer crisps, New Year’s resolutions can be about bettering your career, taking some calculated risks and moving onto bigger, better things.
Your current role might be a brilliant fit, but that doesn’t mean it will stay that way. If you keep improving your career prospects, you’ll have more opportunities in the future.
If you’re planning to go on the job hunt in the New Year, your CV needs to look its best. Here are seven resolutions to help you become the ideal candidate both on and off paper.
1. Beef up your extra-curricular activities
Interests and hobbies are often seen as fluff, but not if they’re specific to the industry you’re currently in or trying to get into. Extra-curricular activities show you’re a well-rounded and engaged candidate.
Attending events, becoming a member of a professional organisation, volunteering, speaking at conferences and running your own projects shows the kind of initiative and drive that employers are looking for.
Additionally, joining clubs, societies or groups outside of work is a great way to meet new people and build your confidence. Take a look at what’s on offer in your local area and vow to make 2021 the year you sign up — and commit — to something new.
2. Become more skilled
Your key skills are one of the first things a hiring manager or recruiter will look at. Is there something missing? Do you need to develop something more before you’re hireable in your chosen industry? Or is there simply something that interests you, which you’d love to learn and develop?
The New Year could be your chance to improve a language, learn a coding language or study something else which will be of benefit in your particular industry. Plan to put some time aside each week for learning and education; your current or future employers will thank you for it!
3. Learn something totally new
Nothing throws you in at the deep end like not knowing where to start. Learning something from scratch stretches your mind, physical abilities, builds confidence and gives you something interesting to put on your CV. It can be totally separate from your career or closely connected. It’s up to you. Whatever it is, make sure it’s fun as well as a challenge!
4. Take on more leadership
Leadership opportunities can be hard to come by, but everyone gets their start somewhere. If it’s your ambition to manage and run a team of your own, talk to your current supervisors about how you can build this experience. It could mean running a regular workplace event or managing a single project on your own to see how you get on. Do it well, and more leadership opportunities will follow.
5. Spring clean your CV
You can make some big improvements to your CV without completely rewriting it. A simple and clean layout is essential, as well as making sure all the most important information is front and centre.
Edit your CV so it follows this basic structure. You’ll make life much easier for the next hiring manager who reads it…
- Name and contact details at the top.
- A few sentences to introduce you as a candidate.
- A bullet point list of your core skills.
- A list of your work experience, in reverse chronological order.
- A round-up of your relevant education and qualifications.
6. Find new opportunities in your current role
Make the most of where you are right now. Your next role could come in 2020, the year after, or even the year after that. Prepare by stretching yourself now.
If you know you can take on more, and your current remit has been the same for a while, talk to your line manager about more responsibility and new challenges. Any decent manager will be pleased to hear you’re interested.
There’s always the risk they’ll take advantage and pile too much work on you, so be specific about what kind of ‘more’ you want in your role and be prepared to be stretched.
7. Set yourself a challenge for 2021
A year goes by quickly. By the end of 2021, where do you want to be? There’s no time like the present to start planning. Set yourself a career challenge for the next 12 months and commit to achieving it. As well as being a good asset to your CV, it could be a great thing to talk about at interview.
Recruiters in high level jobs particularly like to see commitment, and nothing shows commitment like successfully completing a year-long goal.
After the Christmas break, your plan for the future should be much clearer and brighter. Use this focus to consistently improve your skills and experience throughout 2021. A great CV will follow.
About the author
Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV – he is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian and FastCompany.