Hoping to make a big career move in 2013? Whether you're shooting for getting promoted or picking up new skills to reposition yourself, now is the ideal time to make plans to achieve it.
Career coaches say that breaking up a big career goal into a series of smaller steps that you can spread out over the next month or so will make it more achievable.
Of course, any kind of major career change takes time, so make sure you're focused on the right goal before you plunge ahead.
Often, people become dissatisfied in their careers because their work is not aligned with who they really are and their personal values, said career coach and consultant Mary Lee Gannon,of StartingOverNow.com in Pittsburgh. For instance, you may have taken a management job at your company because it was a prestigious step up, then found you were actually happier working on creative projects with no one reporting to you. If that's the case, it could be that you don't need to leave your company but shift to a new job within it.
On the other hand, you may have accepted a task-specific role when you'd be much happier in leadership role where you can focus more on strategic thinking -- and might have to leave your company to find the right position. Finding the right path "comes from going up to the 30,000-foot level instead of looking at 'What am I going to do tomorrow?'" Gannon said.
Don't forget to factor personal considerations into the equation. For instance, an intense, round-the-clock job that was an excellent fit for you before you had children might not work well for you anymore if you value having dinner as a family every night -- even if you still love the work you're doing. You might find yourself happier in a company with a more family-friendly culture -- or going into business for yourself so you can set your own hours.
Are you clear on where you should be heading in 2013? Great. Here are some tips on how to move ahead on some popular goals.
Goal No. 1: Getting Noticed By Your Boss
Getting your job done well is only one part of moving ahead and getting a decent raise these days. It's also important to show that you can help the company move forward. A great way to do that is by tapping what you know to help everyone in your firm stay competitive.
Today, the knowledge needed to succeed in many fields is changing so fast that companies are increasingly turning to peer-learning programs in which employees share their expertise with each other across departments. Even if your company doesn't yeta formal program where you can volunteer to share your know-how with your peers, you'll score points with top brass by stepping up and to organize a lunch-and-learn session or a two-hour, cross-departmental workshop where you share the latest knowledge from your discipline.
"It could be something very specific like cloud computing, how to use social media or a financial topic, marketing strategy or an update on trends in your industry," said Stefanie Smith,of New York City-based career coaching firm Stratex Consulting.
Bonus: Helping colleagues sharpen their skills will help you improve your relationships with them, which will give them a reason to support you as you move ahead.
"You'll be giving them something that will advance them at a time when everyone needs to increase their value and be more secure in their job," Smith said.
Goal No. 2: Snagging A Job
Networking within your company is important if you want to move to another department, but if you're seeking a new gig elsewhere, you'll need to raise your profile outside of the firm.
"Expand your industry presence beyond your organizational presence," Smith advised.
Now is the perfect time to spiff up your profile on LinkedIn, where many employers look for potential recruits, she said. First, take a close look at the overall message your profile projects.
"Your photo should show you at your best," she said.
Set aside time to update your profile to include your current projects and highlight the things you do exceptionally well that distinguish you in your field. Employers often look for indicators that you will help them achieve their goals by, for instance, improving revenues or increasing operational efficiency, she said, so make sure to illustrate how you've done this in the past. For instance, if you saved your department $1 million by overseeing the adoption of an efficient new technology, say so. LinkedIn a feature that allows you to highlight specific skill sets, so make sure to use it to emphasize what you do best.
Don't limit your efforts to online networking. To increase your visibility, join a trade group in your industry or networking group -- or step up your involvement in the groups to which you already belong. Volunteer for a role where you'll be doing something that demonstrates your expertise, whether it's mentoring others or planning a fundraiser.
"It's about respect and building your network, Smith said.
If you enjoy writing, contributing to industry journals is another that can raise your profile.
Goal No. 3: Expanding Your Professional Knowledge
If your company doesn't lot of opportunities for on-the-job learning, it's a good time to take matters into your own hands. A good first step is to find ways to learn from others in your field.a
"Join an online forum or LinkedIn group," Smith said. "Or simply subscribe to a newsletter or magazine in your industry."
That will help you to start looking beyond the boundaries of the thinking in your organization and bring in new ideas.
If you need to earn a certification or degree to make real progress, staying late at the office every night won't get you there.
"The longer you work, the less productive you become," Gannon said. Figure out how you'll make time to work toward a new credential -- whether it's by enrolling in an online program or attending classes on weekends -- so you don't have to abandon your plan midstream.
The Investing Answer: If you want to move ahead in your career in 2013, you've got to be proactive. Opportunity is out there, but at a time when many employees are working longer hours and haven't seen a decent raise in several years, you'll have to be very strategic in how you invest your time and -- in some cases -- money in getting ahead.