Six devious tricks for New Year career success

SXSW jobs board
Vive la Resolution! The year is fresh and full of promise and most of us are plotting for it to be a good one for personal fulfilment, for health, for holidays, for a new job, for a promotion, for whatever your career goals are. But (there’s always a but)…

  • The reality we must also face is that the vast majority of New Year Resolutions don’t last the week.
  • The reality is that most of us won’t have the willpower to change things because change is HARD.

So I’ve been thinking about some potential tricks to overcome such monumental mass failure. Rather than being pro-active (hard!), are there easier, more devious strategies for personal career success in 2011? I think perhaps there are.

1. The public declaration!

Kingston Town Crier - July 5, 2009This year in particular I’ve seen a few people in my Twitterstream publishing blog posts detailing their resolutions – in all areas of their life. I’m pleasantly surprised. I’ve been doing something similar for the last few years on a Word Doc and each new year, I carry over the things I didn’t do so they aren’t forgotten.

But I think the reason that posting your goals on your blog works is that you’ve made a public declaration of your intentions, which is like being  held to account. Or in other words, you’ve cornered yourself into taking action. For inspiration, here’s is one example: social media documenter and creator of the 4am Project Karen Strunks’ New Year, New Blog – Here’s the plan! – as Karen noted in an earlier post on her productivity, “If you write things down, you get things done!

Image of Kingston Town Crier by Marcus Jeffrey

2. Volunteer your wannabe self

This is something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while. I keep meeting people I admire at conferences and wish I could work in their organisation. Well, why not? It’s been several decades since I did my first work experience but I’m thinking of volunteering my inner teenage newbie content strategy self to work for a proper content strategy agency for free for a couple of weeks to a month – to help them and to cement the theory with some practical experience.

This may seem like financial suicide but there are skills, knowledge and connections to be made as a return on the investment. Most likely anyone considering doing this would have to use up their annual holiday but here’s where it can get really cunning. If you can persuade a US or European counterpart to use you as free freelance desk resource, then it would be like being on holiday – or at least the evenings and weekends would be. Devious!

3. Buy yourself a really expensive present

There’s nothing like the knowledge that you’ve shelled out good money to keep you motivated. So if it’s an iPad, a Flip, a training course or costly new software, you can always justify the spend by learning new skills and adding them to your CV.

For example, CJ Walker, our CEO at Firehead, has recently invested in a digital SLR camera and pocket video. This is the year she is set to update not just her photographic, video making and editing skills, but also her social media skills by sharing her content with others through a new Posterous blog.

This is extra smart career thinking because such blogs (Tumblr is another easy-share platform) act as demonstable meat for your CV, showing off your skills and personality to those hiring, and showing companies that you are more than just talk.

4. Hire a free career guru

You don’t have to pay a fortune for a life coach to pin you down to your goals when there are online gurus freely posting their advice on YouTube and other video platforms. If you know where you fail – procrastination, lack of willpower or inspiration, organisation issues – then there is probably an expert or a talk that can help or motivate you.

For example, here’s a talk I watched yesterday from the Do Lectures – a sort of ideas farm for people doing interesting things. (Also check out TED talks for more short presentations from interesting people.) This one is from David Allen, who wrote a bestseller called ‘Getting Things Done’ – the talk lasts about 25 mins, which is a darn site shorter than reading the book and gives you practical tips for getting your ‘to dos’ done.

5. Book a career conference

The Giant BrainConferences don’t have to be dry, dull affairs timetabled by room-based lectures and the occasional coffee break. For the last two years, I’ve been booking myself into festival type conferences abroad, such as SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas, where half the learning is done at SXSW’s legendary parties (here’s The Giant Brain talking at the Dorkbot party, for example). If I can, I’ll also tag on a holiday at the same time – for a bit of extra motivation.

But I’m an amateur. Others have taken career conferences to ultimate levels by using them as a launchpad for their work.

For example, read about Lloyd Davis’ Tuttle2Texas project. He decided to overland it from New York to SXSW 2010 via railroad, and ‘make a movie or two’ along the way. He was joined by a few other people who wanted to do more than just attend a conference and together they created a social media movie filming people in the different cities they visited and “holding human-scale conversation spaces with … many of the interesting and influential people we know from the social web”.

Apart from SXSW Interactive, held each March in Austin over five days, I hear good things about Picnic – it’s a three-day festival conference, held in Amsterdam in September, and is a festival of sharing ideas for those with curious minds. Any other suggestions?

6. Sign up to be a Firehead!

fireheadhqA relevant recruiter who specialises in your industry could help you strike gold in your career.

Firehead covers a number of specialist recruitment areas (here’s the full list) – mainly Web and IT professionals, and tech comms people in the UK and Europe. But there are dedicated niche recruiters for all industries. If you’re in content or tech comms work in Europe and want to get ahead, why not file your details in our jobs database – and see what happens!

Do you have any devious strategies of your own to share?

How do you get beyond the New Year Resolutions stage to make your wishes a reality? What do YOU actually do to make it happen? Seriously, do let us know and share your tactics here – it’s a genuine question.

Until then, may we wish you a happy and prosperous new year and may all your dreams come true.

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