Your 12 Day Christmas Career Plan

‘On the first day of Christmas, my true (career) love gave to me…’

Christmas is about giving but it’s also about happiness.

As the holiday period approaches with its focus on relationships and happiness, devote some time to thinking about achieving the best of relationships and happiness in your career.  

Here are 12 career gifts that your true (career) love aka ME is giving to you to be happier at work. Answer each question honestly and rate your mastery of these gifts out of 10. Then take action, depending on your results.

First Day: Rate your ability to ‘imagineer’ your future

Give yourself permission to dream.

One of my good friends “imagineered” her family’s emigration from France to Australia.  She delved and delved with her husband until she uncovered his life goals.    Luckily for her, this dream resonated with her and here they are… 

Your best bet is to find an astute, supportive person.  I was helped by a few people this way when I left my first profession and jumped off the cliff.  I may have cried all the way down, but their advice ensured that I more than survived the fall.  It may sound corny but I did thrive and still do. 

To my mind, there’s just no substitute for sitting across from someone skilled who challenges you in a supportive way.  So, leave your office and pop out for a coffee with your mentor on a regular basis. 

Do you have anyone in your life who will take you beyond the here and now, who will challenge you to imagine and dream?  Someone who will support you, as my French friend did for her family.

Second Day: Rate your workplace for Honesty and Integrity

When it comes to ranking my Top 7 Career Values, I never select ‘Honesty and Integrity’. This may seem odd, but I’ve concluded that these qualities are so obvious and important to me that I’d never think of staying in a place where they are lacking.

Many of my clients DO choose this career value but find it sadly lacking in their workplace.

This is quite dire. Imagine what it must be like to turn up to work day after day. If your place of work lacks Honesty and Integrity, dust off your exit plan and get out of there as soon as possible.

Do people at your workplace act with honesty and integrity?

Third Day: Rate your résumé

The very first element to assess is how attractive your résumé is. Readers are getting tougher and tougher in this regard. Even if they force themselves to overlook your old-fashioned font, your wonky layout and inconsistent headings, you have damaged yourself immensely.

The next logical step is analyse your content. Should you really have written that? Or more likely, why didn’t you think of populating your résumé with precise details of the value and complexity of your achievements?

If you ever wanted proof of how important a résumé is, consider an embarrassing hiring mishap within government circles in Adelaide. Readers of the local paper were agog at the antics of the decision makers at a high profile Department who selected just three people based ‘purely on CVs’ to interview for the State’s top IT role. Unfortunately for the Department, the woman they hired turned out to be a fraud but that’s not the point I’m making here.  

Would your résumé have landed you in that top three pile?

Fourth Day: Rate your LinkedIn photo

The defence lawyer of the woman in the case above apparently stated that the Department staff should have realised she was suffering from a mental illness because she had superimposed the photo of a famous model on her LinkedIn profile.

Presumably the staff at the department didn’t check the applicant on LinkedIn. If so, they are extremely unusual. It’s almost always the next step for an employer once they’re seriously assessing your worth.

Your LinkedIn photo should make you appear both professional and likeable.  We think it’s so important that we offer our Career Transition clients a free professional photo so that they look their best.

What does your LinkedIn photo ‘say’ about you?

Fifth Day: Rate your interview performance

A recent client was truly outstanding at interviews – once we’d clarified what this looks and sounds like. However, we both knew that she would face two separate killer questions in her quest for a new role.

So, we took ourselves off to a coffee shop and plotted a strong response in exquisite detail. The message? Even if you’re very good at interviews, there’s no harm in being better.  

How well would you answer ordinary interview questions let alone a killer one?

Sixth Day: Rate your ‘soft’ skills

Time and time again I recommend to clients that they negotiate for an Executive Coaching program from their next employer. Most clients are surprised when I mention it. They don’t currently have a coach and don’t seem to know much about it. Soft skills are actually the hard skills and the days of command and control are long gone.

How well would your fellow staff members rate you on a 360 degree feedback analysis?

Seventh Day: Rate your connectedness

Once you’ve missed out on an internal job, it’s too late to wish that you had networked better with your colleagues.

Once your job has disappeared, it’s too late to regret that you’re not well known in your market place.

This is an easy issue to fix with a healthy dose of ruthlessness. No one else is going to look after you, so you need to look after yourself. Stop endlessly devoting yourself to your organisation. Use a combination of LinkedIn activity, internal chats, attendance at professional forums, lunches, coffees with current contacts and a deliberate campaign to meet new people.

How well known and well respected are you in your market place?

Eighth Day: Rate your industry spread

An HBR study of over 2,600 leaders who had lost their jobs found that 94% of those who landed a new job within 6 months had prior experience in that industry. The message here is to get experience across 2-3 industries early in your career. That way, if you want to move on, there are multiple industries to rebound into rather than being pigeonholed.

How many sectors do you have under your belt?

Ninth Day: Rate your bitterness and negativity

How often do you say negative things about work – whether it’s to do with people or processes? We’ve all seen those people who carry workplace bitterness around with them for their entire life. What a terrible effect it must have on their health, relationships, family and happiness!

If you think your work colleagues don’t notice, you’re deluding yourself. Even if they agree with you, they don’t really want to be around you and you’re likely to be the first person selected to go in any restructure.

What is your workplace negativity score?

Tenth Day: Rate the sun trajectory of your industry and skill set

Sometimes I work with clients who urgently need to job search only to find that there are very few jobs in their industry. This makes life extremely difficult for them.

Don’t get caught out. Every twelve months, do a detailed scan of the advertised roles in your region in your technical area. Identify the trends. If they are on a downward trajectory, it’s time to get out of that technical field. It’s also time to talk to experts about which area to move into and how to do it.

Consider changing your technical skills. The most logical place to extend your skills is in your current technical field. Or, look at related areas.

Luckily, these days, there is a ready acceptance of micro credentials. This makes it much easier for you to move.

Is the sun setting on your industry and skill set?

Eleventh Day: Rate your need for your boss’ friendship

One of the most interesting articles I read this year took the view that there was no moral requirement for your boss to like you and that you should basically get over it if she doesn’t.

A corollary of this is for you to assess what sort of vibe you send to your boss, if you don’t like her. It is almost certain that she will pick up on your feelings. That’s not what I’d call a good career move.

Does your boss know what you think about her?

Twelfth Day: Rate your resilience

In my experience, those people who fare best when they have lost their jobs tend to be the resilient ones. They have the inner strength and intestinal fortitude to do difficult things, whether it’s facing my ‘evil/eagle’ eyes across the table for interview skills practice or whether it’s phoning a stranger for a meeting as part of a job search networking campaign.

Have you done anything scary lately?

Christmas Stress and the New Year Stupor

In Australia, at least, we madly scramble to finish our projects before the end of the year and the start of the summer holidays. We get a double whammy of stress.

So, realistically, you’re not likely to want to think about ANY of the above issues until after that last mouthful of Chrissie pudding.

JANUARY is the time to do this. Take yourself off to a coffee shop where the music is evocative and the atmosphere is uplifting. Or just sit under the cool shade of a tree.

Unclog your brain, free your spirit and review the changes that you need to make to be happy at work. Then, get started. Your 12 Day Christmas Career Plan will bring you happiness.


 Like what you’ve read? Subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here. You’ll be the first to hear about our updates once a fortnight!