5 Steps to Jump Start Your Career in 2019

I spent part of my winter break thinking about all aspects of my career. Although I’ve worked in communications for many years, the landscape continues to change. I want to stay current. I also aspire to be a published author and career coach.


Photo by Cynthia Price

Here are 5 things you can do to further your career journey:

Pay membership dues. Before you pay your membership dues, consider each organization and whether you are benefiting. Will you learn something new? Will you network with individuals from whom you can learn and with who you can share information?

Take a course (or two). Learning about new platforms, the latest apps and different management styles is important. Webinars, seminars, conferences and classes all provide learning opportunities. I signed up for a daylong seminar on starting my own business. I won’t be ready to do so for a few years, but at least I’ll know what I should be doing when I am ready to make the leap.

Network. We all know the value of networking but too often we think of it only in the context of a group setting. I try to have at least two networking lunches a month. One is with a colleague within my organization. I like learning about someone else’s position. An added bonus is that because I work in communications, I almost always also get a nugget for a story. I also network with someone monthly outside of my organization. It allows me to see how other companies and sectors operate.

Enter an awards competition. Each year I look to see if I have anything to enter in a communications contest. My colleague and I review our body of work. I’m reminded of some good work. I’m also reminded of some work I could have done better. And I get ideas for other projects. It’s a great process to prepare myself for the coming year.

Update your resume and LinkedIn profile. It’s important to do this yearly to ensure everything is up-to-date. Note key projects you worked on in the past year and double check keywords. Reach out to your references, updating them on your career and finding out on what they have focused.

Are you ready to jump start your career?




An Empty Inbox

Much has been written about how to tame one’s inbox. All of the suggestions would probably fill an inbox.

The February 2019 issue of Fast Company notes that 2.6 hours each day are spent on email, which amounts to 27 days each year.

That is a lot of time spent on email. And the topic was top of mind because as we were closing out 2018, a team member asked how the rest of us manage our inboxes. She was still wrestling with hers. We all shared our approaches, and reassured her that we, too, were still wrestling.

The takeaway for me is that one size doesn’t fit all. I use my inbox as a to do list. It works well for me. I also maintain folders, but they are for reference and filing. If I move an email into a folder without first taking action on it, I’ll likely never get back to it. I know others who move every email into a folder and then begin to take action.

For me, about 50 emails in my inbox is reasonable. More than that, and I know I am falling behind. In December just before I left the office for almost two weeks, a tiny miracle happened.

Actually, it was a huge miracle – I left with zero emails in my inbox. I was able to address everything either by handling it or scheduling it on my calendar for 2019.

What an incredible feeling. Here’s what an empty inbox looks like:

Empty Inbox.PNGOf course, within a few hours, the emails were arriving. They didn’t bother me, though, because most I could delete. And the few that remained were ready for me to handle in 2019.

Here are a few email tips to get you set for 2019:

  • Make your inbox work for you. That’s a great tip from Carson Tate, who offers a course in taming the inbox and is the author of “Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style.”
  • Set aside 20 minutes midweek to review your inbox to ensure that you have not overlooked any critical emails. I also delete those that require no action and offer no information.
  • Move reference emails to a retrieval system. I either file emails into clearly defined folders or I file the attachment into a World folder so I can retrieve it later.
  • Don’t reply to an email the second it arrives. You don’t want to set the expectation that you are always available. It’s important to focus on your priorities.
  • Stick to a schedule when checking and responding to email. This is advice I gleamed from Michael Smart. It resonated because he helped me to realize that emails are not my priority. They often are a means to reach my priorities – whether that is pitching a story and having it placed in a news outlet or tracking down information to write a blog post.

What tips do you have for taming your inbox?

Review, Celebrate Your Best Work Through Contests

Each year around this time, I say to my colleague, “I don’t think I have anything to enter.” I’m referring to a communications contest she and I typically enter each year.

She, fortunately, rolls her eyes and reminds me of some good work that I have done.


Photo by Cynthia Price

Whether we win an award or not, entering the contest has merit for us. Before entering the contest, we review our work. When we get our entries back, we read the judges’ comments and see what we can learn from them. If we win an award, we feel great about our work.

The review process itself is a good measure of our work. We start of by collectively looking at the categories and reviewing our work product throughout the past year. We determine if we have good stuff to enter. Some of the work we consider we probably could have elevated the results further so we decide not to enter that work. Reviewing what we have done also reminds us of communications we might replicate in the coming year.

The judges’ comments also are important. They offer suggestions that can make the work stronger. I find the comments useful as I embark on the next project. When they note that I’ve done something well, I feel good, but I also want to be sure to replicate it if appropriate.

Most communicators work hard on an article, a campaign or a project, but when it’s finished, we quickly move on to the next thing. An award for the article, campaign or project acknowledges the great work that was done and that others recognize the effort.

Sometimes, it’s good to smell the roses – or the ink on the certificate of achievement.

Note: For tips on how to enter a contest, check out this post.