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By: Robert Half

The tradition of making resolutions at the start of a new year that will improve our lives is a good one. Sometimes, we even keep the resolutions we make. I think that everyone seeking a job, whether a first job or a better one, should make a second list of resolutions, including smart steps to take in 1999 in order to build a solid and fulfilling accounting career. Here are a few items that I would focus on.

I resolve to:

Get my networking list in shape and make every effort to keep in touch with the people on it---a greeting card, magazine, or newspaper article of interest, or a simple phone call just to say hello. In addition, when one of my contacts turns to me for help, I'll make myself available and do what I can to assist that individual.

Become involved in professional and civic groups through which I'll be able to build my network, as well as contribute to my community.

Seek out opportunities to gain visibility for myself, including such efforts as writing for professional journals and local publications or speaking at business association meetings and community groups.

Establish a "personal personnel file" in which I keep track of my accomplishments, including letters of praise and commendation; ideas of mine that were adopted successfully by my employer; honors and awards; and any other documentation of my having performed above and beyond expectations.

Update my resume even if I'm not actively seeking a job, and ask astute friends and colleagues to give it a careful once-over in search of typos, inappropriate choice of words, awkward language, and other mistakes. My new resume will be as "perfect" as humanly possible, and while putting my best professional foot forward on my resume, I will not embellish or lie in an attempt to make it more impressive.

Go to work each day with a smile on my face and a willingness to pitch in even though the project doesn't fall in my area of responsibility.

Go to work assuming each day is the one in which I'll be called upon to meet an important client or make a presentation to upper management. My choice of clothing will always be appropriate, neat, and well-maintained.
View my career as a series of small successes, one building upon the other, and to consider whatever job I'm currently doing to be vitally important not only to my employer but also to me.

Improve myself in those areas in which I know I'm lacking, including such things as getting up-to-speed with the latest software and other technological advances in my profession; sharpening my verbal and written communication skills; becoming more Internet savvy, particularly as it relates to researching prospective employers or locating sources for career information; learning a second language; keeping current with industry trends that affect my business; and any other area of self-improvement that will make me stronger and improve my career advancement potential.

Prepare myself for job interviews by learning all I can about a prospective employer; anticipating what questions might be asked and developing responses that are truthful and compelling; rehearsing those answers using a video or audio tape recorder; and approaching each interview with an open mind and positive attitude.
Avoid contributing anything negative to the company "grapevine" or "gossip mill." Instead, I will do whatever I can to establish and maintain a positive attitude with my colleagues, and will keep my sense of humor, especially when the going gets tough.

Accept responsibility when I have failed to deliver something on time, or up to the expected standard, and will not make excuses or blame others.

There are dozens of other resolutions that could, and should, be included here. None of them are new; each involves common sense. However, it never hurts to remind ourselves on a regular basis of basic truths. Going into a new year is the perfect time to do so


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