Happy New Year! Chances are, if you weren’t back on Friday, you’re back to work today (unless, of course, you work in retail, customer services, care or any of the other industries that don’t stop for a Christmas break). I don’t know what your opinion on New Year’s resolutions are, I’m a bit of a cynic myself (I’ve never kept one past February). If you have made resolutions, though, and one of them is to progress in your career, you’ll need to make an impression on the people who matter. Here are a few hints and tips to do just that.

I love my job

Look the part

It’s easy to let dress standards slip so now’s the time to review your work wardrobe. If your smart trousers are tatty, work blouses are worn and shoes are scuffed, get some January sales bargains in and revamp your togs. If you wear a uniform, have a wee look at that, too. If it looks knackered, put in a request for a new one. If you work from home, don’t start feeling smug! You’ll be more productive if you get out your pyjamas and don something smart.

Be on time

Winter is the worst season for dragging yourself out of bed in the morning, but it has to be done. Make sure you turn up to work on time. I don’t just mean be in the building on time, but at your desk or workstation at the start of your shift. Set your alarm 10 minutes early, iron your work clothes and make your lunch the night before and make sure that you leave the house with enough time to get through the traffic.

Being on time doesn’t just apply in the mornings. If you’re often late for meetings or miss deadlines, now’s the time to change that. You really don’t want to get a reputation as the one who’s always late for everything. Set your clocks five minutes ahead of time if it helps, and get a wriggle on!

Learn a new skill

If your bosses see that you’re keen to develop, they’ll take note. Put yourself forward for an Apprenticeship, NVQ, Masters or professional qualification and show that you’re serious about your career. If that seems like too big a commitment, there are plenty of short courses that you can do. Ask your manager or HR for a training needs analysis to pinpoint the areas you need to develop.

Keep a record of training and development

Those of you who are of a certain age will remember the National Record of Achievement. It was basically a faux-leather folder for you to display your certificates and other gubbins in. I think you were meant to show it to prospective employers, but in practice, it had no real world application and was scrapped. In theory, though, it’s a great idea. Keep a record of any learning or development you do. Even if it’s that 5 minute chat with the store manager that turned into a half-hour lesson on how on-shelf availability monitoring works, the training course everyone went to when your office changed operating system or your mandatory manual handing refresher, keep evidence. Learn to write reflective accounts and do one after every learning opportunity.

Start saying yes

Next time your boss asks for a volunteer to spearhead a project, coordinate an event or lease with a client, don’t stare at your shoes. Say yes a few times and you’ll show the management that you’re a useful person to have around. Don’t overwhelm yourself, though, taking on too much will undo all that good work.

State your intention

It might feel like you bosses can read your mind sometimes, but the truth is, they can’t. If they don’t already know, sit them down and tell them that you want to progress in your career and ask if they’re got any suggestions how you should go about it. If you have told them, just remind them of your intentions and point out all the positive steps you’ve taken since. Be prepared for constructive criticism and resolve to act on it.

If nothing else, these tips will help you to feel more professional and productive, which can only lead to you enjoying your working day more, yes?

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