Key End-of-Year Moves to Boost Your Career

Experts say a little legwork late in the year could lead to big payoffs in 2022.

The new year is setting up to be one of the best in decades for workers, given the rising wages, low levels of unemployment, and a near-record number of open positions, currently more than 10.4 million. And some experts believe that many companies will be promoting more employees, either to backfill open spots or to reward those who have been highly productive during the pandemic.

But experts also like to state the obvious but overlooked: those unfilled roles and promotions aren’t going to fill themselves. The key for workers seems to be moving now, late in the year, as firms plan for 2022. Indeed, being aggressive in the coming weeks may put you at the front of the line, since many workers at all levels tend to mentally check out in December.

To be sure, career consultants say there’s nothing wrong with taking a breather professionally from now until New Year’s. “Especially given how stressful this year has been for many people,” says Gabby Lennox, a career coach for Korn Ferry Advance. That said, some of that downtime could be used to set up a career push early in 2022.

Here are the moves experts say you can make from now through New Year’s.

Find out what your company cares about.

Organizational goals change regularly, and managers don’t always do a great job of explaining the changes. Experts recommend seeking out the boss and asking what’s in store for 2022. If the strategic imperatives are changing, ambitious employees can get a jump on helping to implement those new strategies, says Jennifer Zamora, a team leader at Korn Ferry Advance. You can also find out what ideas the firm has about filling any roles that have come open over the last several months. Your manager might be impressed with your desire to work at a time when many other employees, for a variety of reasons, are just counting the days until Dec. 31.

Jump-start networking.

The holidays are a great time to restart the networking engine,” says Sean Carney, a career coach for Korn Ferry Advance. “The holidays provide a perfect excuse to re-engage,” he says.

For starters, identify 10 people to approach via email, text, or social media. Just remember that networking doesn’t mean immediately asking for a job. It’s about finding out how someone else is doing and asking if there is something you can do for that person. Particularly at holiday time, it’s prudent to stay away from job-related questions. “Take a moment to reach out and give thanks for their help in contributing to your career development,” Zamora says. “A little gratitude goes a long way.”

Find a coach or a recruiter — or both.

One group of workers who aren’t taking time off around the holiday season are professional recruiters and other talent- management professionals. They’ll be the most up-to-date about potential opportunities, and right now many are flooded with positions to fill. Connecting with a recruiter will give you a sense of what skills, experience, traits, and behaviors you’ll need for those jobs. “Building a strong personal and professional relationship can go a long way toward staying top of mind and memorable when opportunities arise,” says Zamora. Indeed, connecting with a coach now can help anyone who wants to accelerate a job search: career consultants know how to improve resumes and cover letters, and can also help with “practice” job interviews.

Fix your paperwork.

Resumes and LinkedIn pages may not be sufficient to secure a job, but these days well-designed ones are essential to get noticed. Experts suggest taking time to renovate your resume (ditch the fancy fonts and the “objective” statements, for example). “If a new role is your 2022 goal, having the downtime to do a little resume and LinkedIn work is a great use of time,” Carney says.

It's important to include in that resume and LinkedIn profile match the types of roles you are looking for. For example, if you’re seeking a new sales position, highlight how much revenue you brought in at your prior job.

“We know that the first quarter of the year is a really heavy hiring period, so this could be an opportunity to freshen your resume, LinkedIn profile or other application materials,” Lennox says.

Think about and set goals for 2022.

Lennox says she and many of her coaching clients mutually agree to take a step back before the holidays. However, she says, people can spend some of the holiday downtime thinking about what they want to accomplish in the new year. Goal setting can be inspiring, Lennox says.  She suggests creating a vision board and reflecting on the wins and opportunities from 2021. Or, for people who want to find a new job in 2022, sketching out a networking plan and targeting dream companies they would like to work for. 

Finally, Zamora says, share those goals with other people. People who do so are 85% more likely to attain their goals, she says, because sharing them creates a process of accountability.