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New Year, New Gig

Four key career resolutions that work

The economy may stink—but work doesn't have to. We asked career coach John McKee for some tips on how you land the job of your dreams before the end of '09:

1.) Make specific goals.
It's harder than it sounds because it requires extreme honesty. Without over-thinking things, ask yourself some pointed rapid-fire questions: How much money would you like to be making by this time next year? What job in the organization do you ultimately want? Why—truthfully—haven't you accomplished what you want in your career? Can your industry satisfy your professional goals? Sometimes to achieve the career success we desire we actually have to change industries.

2.) Do a "personal S.W.O.T. analysis."
That's McKee's term for a list of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats you face on the job. What do you do well (strengths)? What could you work on (weaknesses)? Does your boss or department have any vulnerabilities that you could use to your advantage (opportunities)? Finally, what are the things that prevent you from getting that promotion (threats)?

3.) Promote yourself.
When times are tough, employees need to become even more savvy at the art of self-promotion. We assume our bosses know all the great things we are doing on the job. But they can be just as overworked as we are. A good tactic is to schedule regular meetings with your boss to give him an update on what you have done, what you are doing, and what you plan to do.  It's the kind of thing that makes your boss look smarter when he checks in with his boss, and that's something you may be rewarded for later on.

4.) Ignore the golden rule.
Not "Do unto others." The office golden rule: Be a team player. That common advice does not make sense in a shrinking economy, McKee warns. Instead, look after your boss's needs. The more successful you can make him, the more successful you'll end up. Everyone loves a guy who makes their job easier, and that could be the key to the career success you're craving.

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