It’s resolution season! A new year is a great way to wipe the slate clean and instill new goals and habits. For those of us facing careers without a degree, it’s important to set goals and regularly evaluate our progress with them. If you haven’t set professional goals recently, consider some of our suggestions to begin in 2018.
Resolution #1. Network more
One of the greatest assets of a professional without a bachelor’s degree is his or her professional network. We discuss why it’s important to maintain these relationships in a previous post. Because most opportunities arise from professional connections and referrals (NOT job postings), it’s important to nurture those relationships. Hopefully you are on good terms with previous supervisors and colleagues. Consider sending them a friendly email or greeting card in the New Year to re-establish communication. This will help them to remember you in a positive light. It will also help avoid any awkwardness of a random request for a professional reference. Moving forward, consider finding a way to check in with them every 4-6 months. The main goal will be maintaining them as a part of your network and making it impossible for them to forget you. You should have one of these contact points for every company you have worked for in the past 5 years.
Resolution #2. Update or create your LinkedIn profile
While this item may be part of the previous resolution, it is crucial enough to be mentioned separately. Increasingly, the use of LinkedIn is becoming essential to professional networking. While it allows you to connect with people you have worked with to some degree, it is also a great way to showcase your experience and skills. In addition, LinkedIn is becoming a valuable resource in job searching. The benefit of LinkedIn opposed to applying to jobs through forms and emails, is that you are able to sell yourself and your skills in a more tangible way. A LinkedIn account with a carefully crafted profile and professional headshot will make you much more ‘relatable’ to an employer that you have never met before. You can read more about the importance of a LinkedIn profile here.
Resolution #3. Revamp your resume
You should update your resume as your skills and experiences develop. Aside from the obvious benefits of maintaining a current resume, it will also help you think critically about your own skills and professional worth. Additionally, focusing on your own strengths and skills will give you a boost in self-esteem as you enter the new year. It will help acquaint you with what you offer to an employer or company, in order for you to sell yourself in an interview or request for a promotion. Also consider reformatting your resume to be more visually appealing by using a modern styled template. There are great options for doing this at Canva. You’re welcome. You can check out what NOT to do on your resume here.
Resolution #4. Enroll in a class or seminar
A cornerstone of Sans the Degree is life-long education. Starting the year with a class that teaches a new skill or offers certification is a great way to frame your professional mindset. This resolution is also another item you can add to your professional resume. Having such extracurriculars on your resume will give the sense that you are proactive with your professional development and career goals. When you can’t list a bachelor’s degree on your resume, extra classes are a great way to beef it up.
Resolution #5. Invest in a few professional wardrobe staples
Start the new year off in clean, professional attire. Without a college degree, your professional appearance is another thing you should leverage in your favor. Obviously, it won’t replace a college degree, but it can give you an edge. Start with a few quality pieces from which you can build outfits with your existing wardrobe. Consider a blazer, slacks, button-up shirt, pencil skirt, belt and matching shoes. Buying these items in black and grey is a great way to guarantee that they will match almost everything you already own.
Resolution #6. Apply for 3 jobs a day (if you are seeking a new job)
While it may seem beneficial to apply to many jobs a day to increase your chances of landing a job, it may not be the best route. Carefully researching each job and company to assure a good fit should be the step you complete before submitting an application or resume. Additionally, every cover letter you write should be customized to the position and company to which you are applying; this is non-negotiable. To increase your chances, you may also consider slightly customizing your resume for each position to which you apply. After researching each company and position followed by customizing the cover letter and resume, you may end up having spent an hour or more on the process for each position. The key here is quality over quantity. You will end up submitting better resumes and cover letters to better companies and better jobs. You won’t be wasting your time and efforts on companies that you won’t be a great match for.
Resolution #7. Wake up earlier
There is no debate that getting up early in the morning is more productive. It gives you the necessary time to wake up and complete your routine. You may have a hard time, initially, waking up early. Put your phone or alarm clock in a separate room from where you are sleeping so that you are forced to get out of bed to turn it off. It will also make it more difficult to continuously hit the snooze button. A recent study confirms the negative effects of snoozing your alarm as it re-initiates a sleep cycle. This actually has a negative impact on decision-making, focus, memory and reaction-time. Read more about it here.
Applying these New Years resolutions will help you start the New Year off in the right direction, if you are Sans the Degree.
If you try these out, let us know! Is there anything else we can add to the list? We want to hear from you!