6 New Year's (career) resolutions to consider

Fireworks display to ring in the new year at Whitehall, London. Photo by: Chris Chabot / CC BY-NC 

The start of a new year brings a sense of new possibilities and opportunities. Beginning with a clean slate, we feel energized to try new things and become an even better version of ourselves. For some, that may mean hitting the gym, quitting a bad habit or picking up a new hobby.

And whether you’re happily employed, considering the next career move or actively job seeking, this time of year provides a chance to set new goals.

As we barrel ahead into 2015, here are six career resolutions to consider.

1. Become an “integrator”

Last year, many global development leaders talked about a new role desperately needed in global development: an integrator. This is not a job title per se, but someone who can look at multiple issues and sectors, see how they impact each other and who excels in fostering collaboration between various stakeholders unaccustomed to working together, like government, private sector and civil society.

Being an integrator requires communication, listening and relationship management skills, among others. All development professionals, from project managers to technical specialists, can benefit from thinking like an integrator when approaching their work. Begin doing these five things today to start developing the skills and mindset of this increasingly in-demand skill set.

2. Think innovation

The term innovation has become such a buzzword that it’s started to sound cliché. But the fact remains that the development sector must continue to innovate in order to achieve meaningful results. Being innovative doesn’t have to mean making something mobile or even require technology. It can simply be looking at new ways to solve problems. Challenge yourself to try a new approach — even if it means opening yourself up to failure — in your area of work. Professionals who can take measured risks and think creatively are wanted everywhere.

READ: Behind the buzzword: Development jobs in 'innovation'

3. Nurture your network

Networking is a dreaded exercise by many, yet most professionals attribute their biggest career successes to opportunities they obtained through their network. The New Year is a great opportunity to reach out to those you have lost touch with or want to keep in your orbit. The busy holiday season is behind us, so people tend to have more flexibility in their schedule to grab coffee, get lunch or jump on a Skype call.

If the idea of networking brings a sense of dread, check out this webinar that provides great tips and ideas for finding an approach that works for you and your personality, wherever you may be in the world.

WATCH: Networking for people who dread networking

4. Update your CV and online profile

Whether or not you are actively job seeking, it’s always a good idea to update your CV and online profile on an annual basis. You never know when a dream opportunity may pop up and you will have to quickly pull a resume together. If it’s been years since you’ve updated yours, you may not be able to recall all of your accomplishments or even dates of projects you want to include. So an annual update is a good way to make sure you retain all of that information for the future.

It’s also a valuable exercise in examining where you are in your career. Seeing your professional life condensed on a few pages of paper can allow you to self-reflect in a way you wouldn’t normally. You may recognize strengths you’ve developed and want to further pursue, or notice gaps in skills you want to build.

Make sure you update your CV on your Devex profile — or create one — so the thousands of development employers and professionals who search our community can find and connect you with new opportunities.

READ: How to make your Devex profile count

5. Commit to building one new skill

I often recommend to young professionals to look at the job descriptions of the positions they hope to obtain one day to better understand the skills and experiences they need to gain now to be qualified in the future. However, professionals at all stages of their career can benefit from this exercise.

Check out the Devex job board for the positions you hope to have a few years from now. See what skills they require, where you are lacking and starting working on building that experience.

You may consider signing up for additional training, volunteering to help with a new initiative at your current job or seeking a mentor who possesses that skill.

6. Start planning your next vacation

Yes, you just got back from a nice break, so you should be focused on work right now, not your next vacation. However, if you just took some time off, you probably notice that you came back to work re-energized and ready to tackle a new year.

Global development professionals are prone to burnout, with frequent overseas travel, often in difficult locations, long hours pumping out proposals and devoting so much of their passion and energy in the pursuit of helping others. To be able to give so much of yourself, you need to have some breaks where you unplug, reconnect with friends and family and reflect on what you have accomplished. Use this renewed sense of energy as a reminder of how important it is to find time for yourself. Even if your next vacation is months off, having one planned can give you something to look forward to and pull you through the days when it can feel overwhelming.

READ: Stress: The other peril of humanitarian aid work

What are your New Year’s career resolutions? Please leave them in the comments below.

Whether you’re a seasoned expert or budding development professional — check out more news, analysis and advice online to guide your career and professional development, and subscribe to Doing Good to receive top international development career and recruitment news every week.

About the author

  • Kate Warren

    Kate Warren is Executive Vice President and resident talent and careers guru at Devex. With 15 years of global development recruitment experience advising international NGOs, consulting firms, and donor agencies, she has a finger on the pulse of hiring trends across the industry and insider knowledge on what it takes to break in.