As the calendar turns to a fresh year, many of us take the opportunity to reflect on our lives and careers. For those experiencing a career transition, this period of introspection is particularly emotional. Whether the transition was voluntary or the result of a layoff, the new year presents a chance to redefine goals and carve out a new path.  

The exercise of goal setting during a career transition can be as daunting as it is necessary. It involves taking stock of, not only your professional skills, but also your passions, those activities that make you lose track of time and fill you with purpose. You may refer to this as “being in the flow.” In the quiet after the holiday bustle, take a moment to consider what you truly love to do and how that aligns with your career aspirations. At the same time, be pragmatic.  What is happening in the marketplace?  What jobs do your skills match?  Are you bound to a specific geography?  To specific working hours?  As you look at specific openings, would you hire you? 

Take time to engage in a few thought-provoking exercises which help you through this introspection time.  

Some of these exercises might include: 

  • If you had a day to spend all to yourself, what would you do? 
  • If you could pick your perfect customers, who would you serve?
  • What breaks your heart?
  • What were the top 10 accomplishments and highlights of last year? 
  • What do your friends come to you for? 
  • What comes easy to you that you might take for granted or that doesn’t seem to come as easy to others? These are your superpowers! 

The new year is the perfect time for a resume update and LinkedIn profile refresh. Update your photo, revise your summary to reflect your current goals and add any new skills or experiences. Don’t forget to prune older, less relevant information that might dilute your core message. If you are applying for jobs online, make sure your resume is ATS (Applicant Tracking System) compliant. Your resume and LinkedIn profile are often the first impression you make on potential employers, so ensure it’s an accurate representation of your professional self.

Moreover, as you enter this period of transition, consider the power of networking. Reconnect with past friends and colleagues. These are individuals who know your work ethic and strengths and can offer support or even introduce new opportunities. However, don’t stop there!  Forge new connections by attending industry events as well as professional networking organizations such as Women Leaders Forum of the Coachella Valley or a local chamber of commerce, where you can meet fellow professionals, exchange ideas and expand your circle.

These connections can be crucial, as they often lead to what’s known as the “hidden job market.” Did you know that 70% of positions are filled through referrals or connections rather than public job postings? By expanding your network, you increase your visibility within your industry, making it more likely that opportunities will come your way.

One final component to your New Year – New You:  when networking, the dreaded “tell me about yourself” becomes more than just an interview question; it’s a prompt to articulate your personal brand. This new year, make it a goal to refine your branding statement. This is a concise, compelling narrative that captures your unique value and professional desire. It should be clear, consistent, and ready to be shared. Follow it up with “who do you recommend I speak with?” with the desired outcoming being a connection for a potential opportunity.

As you set your sights on a new career, remember to maintain a balance between personal aspirations and practicality. Consider the lifestyle you want and how potential jobs fit into that picture. Whether you seek flexibility, creativity, leadership or stability, let these preferences guide your job search.

Lastly, embrace the journey itself. Career transitions can be periods of significant growth and self-discovery. They can challenge you to learn new skills, to step out of your comfort zone and to reinvent yourself professionally. Consider an accountability partner, career coach or mentor during this transition time. Sometimes having someone to talk with during this challenging time can make all the difference in your outlook, approach and attitude.  

As we usher in the new year, set your goals with intention. Be open to new possibilities, be active in your pursuit, and be ready to embark on a fulfilling path that aligns with both who you are and who you aspire to become. Here’s to new beginnings and to a year of health, growth and professional success!

Chris Carter is a career consultant with LHH Career Transition & Mobility, vice president of Women Leaders Forum and founder of Start Strong professional resources. She can be reached at [email protected]. For a free goal setting guide and more information, visit

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