If you didn't know already, 2016 is a leap year which could be seen as an extra chance to re-evaluate how the year is going so far and maybe even get back track with your New Year's resolutions, should they have fallen by the wayside! So if you told yourself on 1st January that you would do something to progress your career but you've not quite got round to it yet, perhaps our guide can help to motivate you.
Whether you're new to the job market, looking to boost your confidence in your current role or you've just been promoted and feel a bit out of your depth; soft skill short courses and training can be essential to making sure you get to where you want to be. Soft skills in the workplace can be anything from communication and assertiveness to team, time and conflict management. All of these skills (and more) are becoming as important to businesses as your expertise.
You can go it alone and pay for the course yourself but many companies offer these sorts of development opportunities to full time employees so it's always worth approaching your HR department to see if they work with specific training providers. Many 'all-rounder' courses can be as short as one to two days long and relatively inexpensive for what you get in return.
Seminars and conferences are a great opportunity to meet industry peers or to network in a new industry. Not only will it spark your enthusiasm for your current role; seeing what advancements are happening outside of your current company or role but it could be a great opportunity to shop the job market. Are there companies presenting that inspire you more than your current role? It's worth looking on employee review sites such as glassdoor.co.uk to read what their own employees think of their culture. Many companies are encouraging of a greater work/life balance and first hand reviews are a great way to see how much of a company's intent actually translates in the day to day of a role there.
LinkedIn is one professional social media platform which is continuously popular. In addition to allowing you to share your CV in a format which you can control, signing up gives you free access to a network of friends and colleagues who can be invited to recommend you and the opportunity to link directly to digital projects you have been involved in for example.
The separate LinkedIn Job Search app is a fantastic platform for companies to directly advertise jobs to keen job hunters. If you don't have an account but want to use the job search tool, there's no need to panic. You can sign up for free with your existing LinkedIn profile and get searching. Your dream job might just be an app away.
While on LinkedIn, recruiters can find you based on skills and keywords in your profile, approaching recruitment agencies can also be invaluable if you are looking to change industry. As it's their job to find you a job in order to get their commission, they're on your side. Sometimes you might wonder about some of the roles they may want to put you up for but the best agents know their clients and the sort of employees they look for. Many agents also have access to companies who do not advertise on their own site. So while you're up skilling with your new qualification and soft skills, they're able to search the jobs market for you. Perfect in helping you find a job if you're struggling to find something suitable or simply don't have the time.
If boosting your knowledge or even taking a completely different career path has crossed your mind this year then it may seem obvious but getting a further qualification could really strengthen your CV. And there are a lot of qualifications out there for you to choose from; diplomas, degrees, getting chartered. There should be something available in your sector to suit your time and budget.
The National Careers Service offers lots of information and guidance to get you started.
Tip: Most managers or HR departments are very supportive of 'topping up' your knowledge or skills to enhance your current role where there is a training budget available. If, however you're looking to train up in a different speciality it's unlikely that the company will consider such a request due to a common 'return of service' caveat in your contract.
New career altogether
Was your New Year's resolution even more extreme like finding a different job in a different sector altogether? If so, in addition to LinkedIn, online job sites like monster.co.uk and CVlibrary.co.uk should be some of your first ports of calls. Such platforms will give you access to a seemingly endless stream of opportunities available in the area of your choice and as it's all online it's even quicker to search and apply - and be discovered.
Good luck! You can tweet us @tsb and let us know how you get on with building your career.