New Year's resolutions for school leavers

20 December 2017 | Focus | Guest Author

As we move into the new year there is a tendency for people to make grandiose resolutions. “New year, new me” has become little more than a comical meme and yet when January 1st arrives we are all tempted to take stock of our place in life and define new objectives.

In the spirit of this tradition, Alexander Partners would like to offer a list of New Year’s resolutions for School Leavers and all of those who are looking to build a career.

I will treat my name as my brand

For some this will mean creating a business email account using your actual first and last name and deleting a lot of inappropriate posts from your Facebook account. Did I use the word inappropriate? What I actually meant was stupid posts! Remember, potential employers will Google your name. If your social media accounts are full of questionable material, now is the time to either delete them or better still delete the account. Do you really want your name to be synonymous with pub crawls and spray tan?

I will invest in my communication skills

To get where you want to be in life you must be able to articulate your thoughts and ideas. If you lack the vocabulary or the confidence to communicate effectively, now is the time to rectify the problem. Take a public speaking course. Develop a habit of reading quality material from reputable sources. Take a course in writing. Having effective writing and verbal communication skills are a must in today’s economy.

I will gain a marketable skill

In addition to problem solving, leadership skills and the ability to work well in a team, foreign language proficiency and coding are valued skill sets. Many universities offer short foreign language and computer coding programmes. Regardless of your career choice, having a foreign language and a set of computer related skills will make you more employable.

I will subscribe to a trade journal and attend career fairs

Many industries have publications and websites that are inexpensive or free. Find one that interests you and subscribe. Each year there are career fairs that are specifically organised for school leavers. Attend them. Both will help you stay current on industry and employer trends and changes.

I will manage my money well

Nothing is worse than working predominantly to pay somebody else. It creates stress and desperation which can lead to making poor career decisions. Avoid the pitfalls that many young people get trapped in; the excessive use of credit cards and taking on unnecessary debt. Quickly pay off debts. Save, even if it is in small increments. In an emergency you will be glad that you did.

I will stop settling for ‘good’

Right now there is someone your age somewhere who is working twice as hard as you. Being the best in your class, or the head boy in your school is an honour but it is only a stepping stone. You are now competing with millions of people worldwide who are all equally impressive, so you must work harder and smarter to stand out from the crowd.

I will learn to ask for help

Nobody has ever accomplished anything without the help and guidance of somebody older and wiser. Find a mentor, talk to employers at career fairs. Both are valuable sources of career information. A successful senior manager once told me that before successfully submitting her application to the company she wanted to work for, over 12 months she followed their activities as reported on the news and in newspapers.

As we say goodbye to 2017, I sincerely hope that your career related resolutions don’t end up on the ‘must do list’ like the gym membership I bought at the beginning of the year. Building a career isn’t simple, but with the right attitude and guidance, you can achieve greatness.

Jameka Neil

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