A new year is a new start: it’s the perfect time to think about what you want to accomplish and to set new goals. Why not use January to reflect on your career ambitions and formulate plans for achieving them?
- Follow relevant people and organisations on Twitter: use your social media profiles to develop an up-to-date and comprehensive understanding of the field or fields you are interested in. This can be a source of inspiration and interest, increasing your passion for pursuing your chosen career path. Getting to grips with current issues or debates in the industry is also very useful for answering commercial awareness questions in future interviews (e.g. ‘what do you think is the most important issue currently facing our company’).
- Reflect on 2017: why not use January to reflect on the progress you’ve made in 2017? What skills have you developed through your course and your extra-curricular activities? What responsibilities did you take on in your work experience? Did you receive any praise from fellow team-members or from an employer? It’s useful to keep an ongoing record of your accomplishments which you can use as the basis for targeted CVs and job applications in future. Think also about your interests. What motivates you, energises you and interests you? Reflecting on the kind of tasks which you find meaningful and engaging (rather than the sort of tasks which you feel you should be interesting to you) can be useful in making decisions about your career path.
- Decide what you want to achieve in 2018: think carefully about what you want to accomplish for your career this year. You could start by looking at the person specifications and job descriptions for graduate and entry-level jobs in the area you’re interested in. Where are the gaps in your CV which you need to fill before you’d be able to apply for these jobs? Then look for ways in which you can fill these gaps, such as work experience placements, QProjects, internships and volunteering. Identifying your goals at the beginning of the year can give you direction and focus.
- Make a plan: think realistically about how you will achieve your aims. If your goal is ‘find work experience’, break it down into small, manageable steps.
E.g.: Step one – research organisations offering summer work experience placements. Step two – start an application for one placement, tailoring your CV and cover letter to the employer’s requirements. Step three: visit the Careers and Enterprise Centre to have the application reviewed. Step four: Revise the CV.Decide when you will work on these career development tasks. Why not set aside a regular time each week? Set yourself deadlines to make sure that you complete everything you plan to.
- Brush up on your interview skills: practice is the key to successful interview performance. The more familiar you are with articulating your key selling points in succinct and compelling ways, the more likely you are to be a persuasive interviewee. You might not have an interview coming up, but why not record yourself answering common interview questions (such as ‘tell us about a time when you have demonstrated effective communication skills’)? Then watch the interview back – even if it’s embarrassing! Look at your body language, listen to your tone of voice and think about how specific and concise your answers are. Then work on ways to improve your weaker areas. You could also practice with a friend, and take turns being the interviewer and interviewee. This will give you a new perspective on interview questions.