We hope that 2013 is your year to find a new job. Since you’re making all those other New Year’s resolutions, why not add a couple to perk up your career prospects? Here are a couple of suggestions that will add value to your resume and that can be accomplished in your spare time. Even if you’re not in the job market right now, keeping these resolutions will boost your productivity and increase your chances of achieving your next career goal.
1. Improve your typing speed. Computers – and keyboards – are a fact of life now whether you’re in business or in school, and being an awkward typist can really have a negative impact on your productivity. Almost every business executive is expected to produce his or her own work these days, so adding 20-40 words per minute to your speed can help you finish projects more quickly. You also spend less time on the manual process and more time on the mental process, which is what your company hopes it’s paying you for.
A simple and inexpensive tool to help you increase your speed is Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing®, a software program available for as little as $19.99. This self-paced tutorial program features customized lessons, motivating speed tests and progress reports, and dictation practice. The program bills itself as equally effective for the young student typist, the busy executive, or the administrative professional seeking to improve skills.
2. Expand your network. Make a resolution to meet and stay in touch with at least one new person a month with whom you can exchange information on career issues. If you’re an organized person who manages your network well, make it a goal to add three people. They may be someone in your industry or in an industry you’re thinking about for a career move in the future. One great way to meet new people is through volunteer projects. When you volunteer in the community, you may find yourself working on a committee side by side with an executive or business owner. Volunteering is a great way to show others what you can really do, and your fellow volunteers will remember your talent, leadership and energy later when they talk to others about you.
Many people expand their networks at Chamber of Commerce mixers or public meetings. Once you’ve met someone who’s easy to talk to and has connections to subjects that interest you, don’t let the new acquaintance die out. Send the person a note or email telling him how much you enjoyed meeting him, and get in the habit of touching base when you hear something that might be of interest to him/her. The difference between a person in your network and a friend is that you’ll primarily exchange business information with one, and personal information with the other. In a job search, you go to your friends for moral support and to your network for information and leads.
3. Start following a thought leader. Following blogs (like this one) is a great way to bring creative thinking into your inbox every day. Whether you’re looking for career advice, following industry trends, or trying to become more creative or more inspired, there’s a smart person out there writing for you. I get daily inspiration from Seth Godin and the Harvard Business Review online. If you’re looking for a list of great business blogs to follow, try this one. Your body needs healthy food to stay nourished and be strong; so does your brain.
Are you following any great thought leaders? Comment and let me know what – or who – you consider to be a must-read. Happy New Year.