The best career resolutions for your 30s
Ready to take your career to the next level? Here are some short-term and long-term goals to make this your strongest year yet.
Looking for ways to jump-start your career in the new year? Your late 20s and throughout your 30s are an excellent time to try new things, get aggressive, and lay the foundation for the next step in your career, experts say. This includes entertaining a career change at 30 or taking on new and greater responsibilities.
“It's important to ask yourself some simple questions to help you determine whether the career you're pursuing will fulfill your desires or whether you need to reassess your chosen vocation,” says John Sader, a specialist in human behavioral analysis, career coaching, and business development.
That’s a scary thing to consider, but there’s no better time to think about it than now, when change and experimentation in your career are not only feasible—they’re also expected.
That’s why Monster talked to career coaches about some of the best career resolutions for your 30s. Many of them focus on taking a moment to see where you’ve been and where you want to go.
So if you’re looking to make some strides at work, along with the expected “eat more vegetables” and “get more exercise,” check out our readymade resolutions below.
Set a strategic goal
It’s great to set goals for your career, but you need to do it strategically to make sure you can actually reach them. Jeanna McGinnis, a certified resume writer with Mentor Happy, recommends identifying a goal you can realistically hit within six months, such as improving work quality or productivity.
“Be selective and choose something that will help you progress towards your long-term career goals,” she says. Schedule daily reminders about your goal, and remember: Even the smallest step forward is a sign of progress.
Kick it up a notch
In 2021, focus on being aggressive in your career, recommends Angela Copeland of Copeland Marketing Services. “Most of your financial career growth comes near the beginning of your career, so do your best to capitalize on this time,” she says. You should start to get opportunities to lead in the next few years, so resolve to take advantage of any doors that open for you, whether they’re new projects, chances for collaboration or—yes—a better job somewhere else.
Find a mentor
Your 30s are an excellent time to get some help from someone with more experience or expertise than you, says Laura Browne, founder of Career Tips for Women. But how do you find a mentor? Identify someone who is where you want to be in 10 years, and invite them out for coffee or lunch to learn more about how they got there. While there’s no guarantee that what worked for them will also work for you, there’s always value in forging new relationships, whether or not they’ll lead to work.
Take a risk
Now is the perfect time to try something a little risky, so resolve to be ready for opportunities in the coming year, says Houston-based career expert Rick Gillis. With your training and education in your past, it’s time to stretch your wings a little bit and see what you’re capable of. Your 30s are when you can take a career risk that, in your 60s, you can look back on and say, “I wish I had...” or, “I’m glad I did,” he says. And anyway, who wants to play it safe their whole career?
Start tracking accomplishments
As you establish your career, it may seem like you’ll never forget your achievements. But through the years, you may drop some of the details that can make your resume stand out. Now is the time to commit to keeping a list of all the things you are doing now, Gillis says. That way you’ll be able to recall them when it comes time for serious negotiation for a promotion.
Try something new
Don’t let your burgeoning career stagnate. Keep your skills up to date by striking out in a new direction, recommends productivity psychologist Melissa Gratias in Savannah, Georgia. Resolve to take classes, read books or attend seminars on topics that will broaden your horizons—especially if you're exploring a career change at 30. This might mean learning to code, learning a new language, reading books about a topic that isn’t in your field or taking classes on public speaking.
Connect with others
Your late 20s and early 30s are the time to build your network through professional and community affiliations, says Monique Honaman, CEO of ISHR Group in the greater Atlanta area. Build connections and relationships proactively and intentionally with people you have the ability to help, and those who may have the ability to help you, she says. Join a professional or trade organization to meet people who will strengthen your network.
Get your finances in line
Resolve to get your financial practices in place and start saving for retirement, says Laurie Battaglia, CEO of Aligned at Work in Scottsdale, Arizona. “Participate in your employer’s 401(k) or 403(b)(7) qualified plan, especially if they match your investment,” she says. “You are walking away from free money if you don’t.”
If possible, set up an automatic increase every year at raise time, so you save your raise rather than spend it. “The key is to pay yourself first and establish your own important financial goals. Understanding your finances now will lead to great life-long habits,” she says.
Establish a process
With your growing responsibilities, you may not have thought about how to manage it all effectively, says Maura Thomas, a time-management specialist in Austin, Texas, and author of Personal Productivity Secrets.
“Keeping track of all of your commitments, tasks and responsibilities is a daunting challenge as you get promoted, grow your family and get more involved in the community,” she says. She recommends resolving to learn a good workflow management system so you can handle it all with less stress, and ensure that you earn a reputation for being organized and efficient.
Regularly update your resume
This is the point in your life where you're likely racking up the accolades and really honing your skill set. Whether you're considering a career change at 30 or eyeing a leadership position, make sure your resume reflects all these accomplishments. Could you use some help with that? Get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service. You'll get detailed feedback in two business days, including a review of your resume's appearance and content, and a prediction of a recruiter's first impression.