Fall comes with a lot of to-dos: getting back to work after vacation season, getting moving on the job hunt you postponed until after summer, and, oh yeah, getting ready for the holidays. But it’s also a great time to think about some action steps for your career as a whole.
Whether you love your gig or you’re on the hunt for a new one, here’s what should be on your career to-do list from now until the end of the year.
1. Plot Out Your Prof Dev
Are there any conferences you’d like to attend? Certifications or classes that could be useful? Look ahead to the next six months or so, and put together a list of professional development activities you’d like to participate in (including their costs). At your next update with your boss, ask whether there’s a professional development budget available, and propose a couple of courses. These things often take a while to be approved, so if there’s a week-long seminar you want to attend next March, it’s best to get it on your boss’ (and the budget’s) radar now.
2. Take Advantage of Open Enrollment
Most companies hold their open enrollment periods—the time when they announce changes to benefits plans and allow you to switch yours or sign up for new ones—for a week or two during the last months of the year. Find out when yours is, ink it on your calendar, and start doing your research now. Is your health care plan the best one for you? Have the rates or amounts of coverage changed? Are there any new benefits, like dental or vision, that you should be taking advantage of? Do you need life insurance?
Many companies have benefits fairs or allow you to set up one-on-one meetings with benefits specialists to learn more. I know—it’s not exciting, but it’s important, and it could save you money every pay period or in the long run.
3. Add Accomplishments to Your Resume
Whether or not you’re looking for a job, you should be updating your resume, ideally once a quarter. (OK—at minimum, just jotting some notes in the margin.) What projects have you completed in the last few months? Have you had any major accomplishments? What results have you seen in terms of sales goals, revenue, or customer satisfaction? This is the stuff that’s easy to forget about when it’s not top-of-mind, so do your future job-seeking self a favor and update your resume now.
4. Revisit Your New Year’s Resolutions
Remember those big resolutions you made last year? With three months left in 2012, it’s time to dig that piece of paper out and check in on how you’re doing. If you haven’t made it quite as far on your goals as you’d hoped (or honestly even thought about them post-January), that’s OK—you still have time to make some progress now. Did you want to get a new job? Set aside a few hours each week and actually bust out those cover letters. Did you plan to eat healthier lunches every day? Get inspired by the change of the season and whip up some tasty fall soups and salads. Come January, you’ll feel much better about what you’ve achieved in 2012.
And if you have knocked a few key goals off your list? Hey, go reward yourself! Or—for bonus points—get a kick-start on your 2013 resolutions.
5. Ask for Holiday Vacation Time
Last but not least, if you haven’t already, finalize your holiday plans and ask your boss for any vacation days you need. I know—it’s not even Halloween yet, but it will be much, much easier to get your request approved now than on December 1, when everyone else is asking for time off, too.
Tell us! What are your fall career to-dos?