New Year's resolutions are easily made — and many times, just as easily broken. However, when you stick to those goals, you have the potential to make positive, important changes in your life.
This is especially true when you set career-related goals. According to a recent poll by staffing firm Accountemps, 68 percent of professionals make New Year's resolutions about their careers. Here are the top six things they hope to accomplish in 2016, and the best way to achieve them.
Get a raise
Nearly 30 percent of survey respondents said they want to earn more money in the year ahead. If your company doesn't issue annual raises in conjunction with performance reviews — or if you've been stuck at the same salary level for a while — the onus may be on you to ask your boss for a pay increase. But it's not as simple as marching into his and her office and demanding a raise: You need to be able to demonstrate your value to the company and explain why you're worth the extra investment. Before you request more money, however, be sure you've taken stock of your accomplishments and have solid data such as market value and budgetary considerations to back you up. Read more about asking for a raise.
Develop your skills
Developing skills tops the resolution list for 27 percent of respondents, tying for first place with getting a raise. Taking the time to sharpen existing job skills and learn new ones can make you feel fulfilled professionally, as well as boost your value to your company — and therefore, put you in line for raises and promotions. Enrolling in a course or certification program or attending industry workshops and conferences can help you develop practical skills, but don't forget that soft skills like communication and leadership are in demand, too. Read more about the skills employers want to see.
Fifteen percent of professionals have resolved to move up the ladder at their company this coming year. Much like asking for a raise, securing a promotion isn't always simple, and sometimes the timing just isn't right for your company to create a new position or promote you to a new one. However, there are some things you can do to help your case, such as acting like a leader and being more sociable at work. Read more about earning a promotion.
Make a career change
Completely switching your career track can be difficult, but 11 percent of survey respondents are determined to do it. One of the most difficult factors is starting over at the bottom with no formal experience in your new field. However, regardless of what point you're at in your current career, any prior work experience should have armed you with numerous transferrable skills that are useful in any industry. Think about what general skills you have and really highlight them when applying to new jobs. Read more about making a career change.
Get a new job in your field
If you're ready to leave your current job and move to a new company, you're not alone. Ten percent of professionals cite this as their goal for next year. Whether you're feeling like you've hit a dead end or simply need a change of scenery, research available opportunities in your field and ask your professional contacts if they know anything about the companies you're thinking of approaching. Most importantly, don't badmouth your current employer during interviews or burn any bridges in the process. You never know when you might need to reach back for help. Read more about interviewing for a job while still employed.
Build your professional network
Networking can open a lot of career-related doors, but you have to actively work at it. That's why 10 percent of respondents made a resolution to build their professional network. When you reach out and make connections with people in your field, you can find mentorship, career advice and even introductions for new job opportunities. But don't let your professional relationships be one-sided — listen to your contacts and try to provide value for them as well. Read more about expanding your professional network.
Accountemps' survey was based on responses from more than 1,000 U.S. workers.