Make 2017 Your Year with 17 Steps for Professional Development.

2017 has just got to be better than 2016. Do your part to make 2017 great and take action for your professional development. Here are some steps you can take right away to help make 2017 your year.

  1. Update your voice mail message.

When was the last time you did this? What does your message even say? Think of who could be calling you and the potentially wonderful opportunities they could have to offer. Craft your greeting as if you’ve missed the call of someone offering you something great. When you record your greeting, SMILE while you speak – it comes through in your message. Be polite, friendly and sound like you really care about the message you missed.

2. Turn off notifications in your LinkedIn profile.

This is going to be the year you work hard on your LinkedIn profile in preparation for the career move you’re going to make. There is no need to broadcast to your whole network each time you add a skill or edit a job description. Plus, if you’re really worried about your current employer discovering that you’re looking for a new job, turning off the notifications is the best way to make updates under the radar.

3. Write out a list of your accomplishments.

Some people I’ve worked with believed that they don’t have any accomplishments. They were taking for granted what they did and they did not view anything as an accomplishment worth mentioning. I’m here to say that you have to give up that modest attitude and get real about how you contribute to your current company. So, write down everything you could consider as an accomplishment. If you need a refresher on what exactly you did this past year, go through your emails. Make this list. You’re going to need it.

4. Save copies of praise emails.

Ever got an email from a colleague or client saying “You rock!” or “Thank you so much for your help.” Save those emails in a special folder called Praise and read through them when you need to be reassured that you are doing a good job. Because you are doing a good job.

5. Ask for LinkedIn recommendations.

Start adding to your LinkedIn recommendation list. The best people to ask for LinkedIn recommendations are your current employer, people who sent you a praise email, and clients you’ve just finished working with. The entire process of getting a recommendation up on your LinkedIn profile can sometimes take weeks, so get the ball rolling now to have the recommendations there when you need them.

Tip: When you apply for a job through LinkedIn, a summary of your profile gets sent to the job poster and it shows a tally of the recommendations you have in this format: People who have recommended Holly: 5.

6. Get to know what’s out there.

Start browsing job search sites and the career pages of companies you’re interested in. Perhaps there is a required qualification that you don’t have yet, but you can work toward this coming year. It’s always best to know where you want to go so that you can have a plan and a purpose while you’re getting there. Knowing what’s out there and knowing your options will help you make the best decisions for your career.

7. Update your resume.

Update your resume using the accomplishment list you generated and the key qualifications form the job postings you’re interested. That’s part of the process of writing a targeted resume. Get your resume ready so that when the time comes to make a move, you don’t have to panic over the state of your resume and the fact that you have no time left to update it.

8. Reconnect with old colleagues in person.

Amp up your networking game so that it starts to feel more natural. The best time to start this is when you aren’t actually looking for anything. Your reconnection will be more genuine that way, and people respond to it. Reconnect, catch up, find out what’s going on in their lives. Perhaps there’s a way you can help.

9. Offer to help by connecting others.

You may not have all the answers, but people you know might be able to help. Connect people who you really believe could benefit from knowing each other. Connect them just for the sake of connecting with no expectation of something in return.

10. Do your salary research.

2017 can be the year you make more money. Boosting your confidence is key in asking for a raise and doing your salary research can add to that. See more on how to ask for a raise.

11. Ask for a raise.

Practice advocating for yourself and give yourself the experience of asking for a raise. Don’t let negative self-talk and unfounded assumptions hold you back from the experience of asking for more… and getting it.

12. Make a list of professional development courses and conferences you’re interested in.

Then, write a proposal to your supervisor to attend one. This is great for your resume and your career. It shows initiative and after all, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

13. Grow your LinkedIn network.

The larger your network, the more likely you will be found for new opportunities. Take an active approach and reach out to new connections. You can follow these steps I took to get 197 quality connections in just over a year.

14. Budget for professional development and career advancement.

When you consider that your career is such a huge part of your life, it’s surprising how many people don’t actually budget for classes, workshops and help that can take them to the next level. Refer to your list of professional development interests and plan to make it happen, regardless of whether you employer covers the cost or not.

15. Answer your phone.

Yes, I said it. Even if you don’t recognize the number. Sure, you have a great new voicemail message, but nothing beats a voice to voice conversation. Instead of dreading answering your phone, smile, say “Hello, <insert your name here> speaking” and see what sort of opportunities come your way.

16. Ask for feedback once a week.

It feels awful working in a void of feedback. Some people tend to assume that they are doing a bad job if they don’t hear any feedback. So start asking for it genuinely and directly. You may very well end up getting praise and validation, and if not, you’ll get feedback that will constitute a learning opportunity for you.

17. Use quantitative statements in your resume.

This is the key to differentiating yourself and showing the unique value you have. Anyone can write a list of responsibilities, but if you can clearly demonstrate the benefit you brought to the company, in a quantifiably way, then you will stand out.

Well, there you have it. My top 17 steps for professional development in 2017. Did I leave something out? Let me know what I missed in the comments.

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Holly Hagan

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