December 19, 2023

Cracking the Career Code: How to Get Ahead for the New Year


Episode Highlights

Free Professional Development Resources


Update Your Resume and Network Even if You Aren’t Job Searching!


Setting 2024 S.M.A.R.T. Goals


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On this special Holiday episode of Cracking The Career Code, Matt and Kierra discuss how to leverage your downtime during the last 2 weeks of the year to get ahead before 2024. They talk about how you can focus on professional development and ways to be proactive when others are taking this time off. People are still hiring and it will make you feel much better to start your year off on the right foot.  

Episode Transcript

Welcome back to Cracking the Career Code with Matt and Kierra where we provide candidates the keys to success in their job searches. This episode we are going to talk about how to get ahead for the New Year. We know the year is wrapping up, so we wanted to give some tips and tricks on how to do this and how to be proactive. So, Matt, do you want to just start by telling us what are some good ways to get ahead and what to start off with?

Sure. Sure. Yeah, and happy holidays, everyone. Hopefully you enjoy our holiday sweaters. But yeah, so this episode we’re going to be talking about how to get ahead in the New Year. And not just for job seekers, right? So we’ll be taking more of a professional development lean because we know these last two weeks of the year are usually when things slow down, people have some free time, maybe during the day. You know, typical nine to five, don’t have a ton of meetings.

People are out, not a lot of deadlines, that kind of stuff. So, you know, one thing that you can do is try and attend a webinar or a recording of a webinar or any type of like e-learning video training. And there’s tons of platforms and resources out there like LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, Coursera, Skillshare.

Obviously you can go to YouTube. There’s tons of free content on that of course, you know, sometimes quality can vary, right? Yeah. But you know, the opposite of that, like, you can go to Harvard and they have free online courses. Whether or not you should put it on your LinkedIn profile and say you “attended” Harvard, you know that’s up to you, right?

That’s a stretch. You know, tons of free content out there on tons of different professional development topics that you can take in over these slow couple weeks before the New Year. Yeah, and I know motivation for me at least, lacks a little bit these last two weeks, but I promise that if you get ahead of these things, you’re going to feel so much better going into the New Year.

Definitely. LinkedIn also has a LinkedIn Premium free trial for 30 days. If you haven’t used it before, you can still leverage that over the holidays. I know there’s a ton of free courses on there. I utilized that when I was transitioning careers and they just have courses for all facets of what you’re looking for.

So I think that would be great to take advantage of. And you’ll have downtime, so, just find an hour to a day to just spend some time taking a new course or lean into what they have to offer. I didn’t realize that there was a free LinkedIn Premium. That’s also a good thing for job seekers too. For job search January, you can see who’s looking at your profile for the next month. If recruiters might be snooping on your page, maybe send them a connection request and say “Hey, I saw you noticing me, I noticed you, are there any roles that you think I’m a good fit for?” Or something like that. I think it also allows you to send some more messages than just regular LinkedIn does and more connection requests. So yeah, just definitely take advantage of that. That’s a great point. There’s a lot of perks with that.

So if you haven’t used it before, it does offer that every now and then, or I think it just offers it until you use it. Nice. So yeah, great use of that. And then if there’s any type of exam that you’re putting off, get ahead of that. Study, spend some time doing this, and you’re going to have some downtime during the next week, hopefully. So try to squeeze that in too, while you have a Christmas movie on or whatever your favorite type of downtime is, just do that in the background. Sure. Sure.

Yeah, and actually schedule it. Set the date, schedule the exam, pay whatever it is to get that scheduled. That way, you have to be motivated to study, right? If you have a timeline where you’re going to have to take that exam. Another thing that you can be doing during the holidays is, obviously more for job seekers, but also just kind of a good practice to get in the habit of doing, is updating your resume.

You should really be doing that regularly, even if you’re not job seeking, you’re going to forget the metrics of what you accomplished in 2023, those business impacts. Maybe some of those details about projects that you completed or, you know, positive feedback that you got from clients or your manager. Or, maybe something in a performance review that came up that you want to highlight and show a potential employer down the road, even if you’re not planning to actively look for a job in 2024. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. And you want to write these things down too as a good way to look back at your accomplishments for the year.

I think it’s always good to just have this written down. And then it’s going to make your process way easier when it does come to updating your resume. But yeah, always keeping it updated is a good thing to do. You never know when you’re going to be on the job search again. Or just when you’re going to want to look back and see the accomplishments.

So either way, I think it’s good practice to update that. And also during this time, you can use this time to reach out to your network. Or build your network. So sending people notes about meeting up for coffee or asking for an informational interview. All of those things are going to be really helpful as you start the year.

And a lot of people are going to be probably willing to start their year off as they’re coming off of a slow period, to get back into the swing of things. But is there any other, advice you have in that area of networking? Yeah, well, what I would say again about the updating your resume is, maybe set a reminder to quarterly, like at the end of each quarter to update it. That way you get in the habit. And it almost comes automatic that periodically throughout the year, you’re making time to think about your accomplishments. And then for networking purposes, like, you know, there’s always going to be people that are open to mentorship.

And you know, if you feel comfortable, like maybe you reach out to someone who’s earlier on in their career, and they could be your mentee. And also, you know, offering to buy them coffee or buy them lunch sometimes is a nice little incentive. People will be more willing to meet up with you and let you pick their brain, right?

Yeah, yep, exactly. And if you didn’t have an end of the year performance review, solicit feedback from your managers or peers. It’s always good to just see what you don’t see. It’s always good to do some self reflection and just get some advice. And you obviously want to go to people that you trust and that you want the advice from.

And, you just don’t want to seek this advice from anyone. Definitely like your peers or managers that you’re working with, I think is a good practice, and can only help you get better and grow in your career, if anything. Yep. Yep. And one thing when you’re soliciting feedback from people-

people might not be ready to give you that feedback on the spot, right? So, you know, maybe ask them and say, “Hey, can you think about it for the next few days? And then can we meet up and chat about it?” And then also when you’re receiving that feedback, it’s best to just take it all in and then think about it for 24 hours, before, maybe you go back to that person and you discuss a little bit more. It never looks good to kind of give a live rebuttal for that feedback or like you’re arguing with the feedback live. Like just take it in, say thank you for the feedback. And then, you know, kind of process it over 24 hours.

And then if you want to go back to that person, discuss it a little bit further. Yeah, just really appreciate that the person is taking the time out their day to do that for you. I think if anything, it’s just a learning experience. So if you don’t love the feedback, take it with a grain of salt, but I definitely think it can be applied in other areas.

And speaking of applying, I think this is still a great time to apply for roles. Tons of companies are still hiring and setting up interviews for this week and the beginning of the New Year. So get ahead of it. While people are taking this time as downtime, you can leverage this time to get ahead. There are a lot of jobs being posted on LinkedIn and Google.

So look through those after you apply. Send the internal recruiter or agency recruiter or hiring manager, whoever has that job posting, send them a note. Just say that you applied and that you’re interested in learning more. And that will also get you ahead of the people that are just applying and not following up.

Yeah, I made a post earlier this week about just candidates not getting back to me. And there was a lot of people that were like, “Oh, everybody’s checked out for the last few weeks of the year, before the New Year, like no one’s interviewing.” But that’s not the case. Like, no way everyone is on vacation. Like, if you’re really looking for a job, like now is kind of a good time.

Because there are a lot of companies that are still interviewing, still hiring, still looking through applicants every day and reaching out and trying to make the most of this. Yeah, absolutely. And then just go about the New Year by setting goals for yourself. Yup. It is known that if you have goals written down and those are visible to you, that they’re a lot more attainable.

And there’s this method called the smart goals. Do you want to go through what those mean and how to go about that process of setting a goal? Sure. Yeah. Well, what I would say is you can set goals that are personal goals, as well as professional goals. This is always a great time for both of those. And what the smart goal stands for is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound. So think of those, all those areas, when you’re setting your goals. Make sure, you know, even if they’re a stretch goal, they’re not too much of a stretch, right? You want those to be achievable. You want it to be relevant to your career or your personal growth. Or maybe even, you do incremental goals, right?

Like say you want to cut down your time on social media, instead of cutting it out totally. Maybe limit yourself to an hour a day. And then just go slowly down from there. Yeah. And I think the biggest thing is make it so that it’s achievable. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure, but I think that’s a great format as far as how to set that goal and what that should look like.

So yeah, great advice. Is there anything else that you want to add before we happen to that New Year? No, just happy holidays from Cracking the Career Code. Yeah, happy holidays and thank you so much for joining us on Cracking the Career Code. Go check out for more content and follow us on LinkedIn if you are not already. Thanks!



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