Objective setting for 2013

Posted by Elizabeth Harrin

To do listThis is the time of year when project managers and their teams focus on what they want to achieve over the next 12 months. Let’s think about you for a moment – what are your personal objectives for 2013? Here are 3 common objectives and some tips about how to achieve them.

1. Get a certification

First, choose the certification or credential you are going to aim for this year. Will you opt for PRINCE2 or a credential from PMI? Or something else? Maybe you want to pick up a certificate in Agile project management, or prove that you are a risk specialist by taking a qualification dedicated to that. Perhaps you would rather branch out and take an ITIL course to help you understand the IT environment more effectively. You probably already have an idea about what option is best for you.

You will need to make time to study. Enlist the help of your colleagues and family. Find out if your company has a study leave policy which might give you time off for exams and revision. Once you know if you are genuinely make the time to achieve this objective, you are ready to sign up for it.

Secure the funding for your certification. You may be lucky and find that your company will fund your course or at least pay for your exam fees. On the other hand, you may choose to pay for it yourself – contractors will often have no option but to do this.

With funding secure, you can pick your course dates if a course is involved. If you are self-studying, choose an exam date and sign up for it. Having a fixed date in mind for the course or exam will help you focus your mind on the certification and structure your revision.

Finally, take the exam!

2. Get a mentor

Getting a mentor is a great objective to have. Start by deciding what you want from the relationship. Someone who can help you with project finances is going to be very different to someone who can help you with stakeholder management.

Select some suitable candidates. Look around your office and ask yourself who you admire. Who would make a good mentor? If your company has a formal mentoring scheme, sign up and see who they could pair you with who would be a good fit for your personal objectives.

If you are not going through a formal company scheme, you’ll need to talk to your potential mentor directly. When you have narrowed down your list, approach your top choice. Most people will be flattered that you consider them highly enough to want to work with them. Be aware that not everyone will have the time to say yes to your request so you might get knocked back. Don’t take it personally – they will have a good reason for saying no, so move to the next person on your list and try them.

When you have convinced someone to mentor you, agree the terms of your relationship. How often do you want to meet? What do you want to get out of the sessions? Formal or informal? Talk it through with them and agree. You could even put a summary of how you both want it to work down on paper and sign it as a mentoring contract. If it works for you, capture all the discussion in a mind map like Seavus DropMind and use that as the basis for an informal mentoring agreement.

It is also worth discussing how the relationship will end – mentoring doesn’t tend to go on forever, and you’ll find that a different sort of mentor might be more valuable to you in the future. Agree now how you’ll both be able to step away from the mentoring relationship. You may want to set a minimum term that you can both commit to, and then have the option to break away if it doesn’t work out after that.

3. Move jobs

First, decide if you want to stay in the same industry or move to another industry. This will help you tailor your CV or resume effectively. Make sure your CV or resume is up to date. It’s surprising how long this can take, especially if you haven’t reviewed it for a while.

Go through your CV, highlighting your current achievements and job accomplishments. Take out anything that is irrelevant. Shorten any paragraphs that go on about jobs you held 10 years ago – try to sum up these in a sentence or so, giving you more space to talk about what you have done recently.

Now you need to find some job openings. Network like crazy, and tell all your contacts that you are in the market for a new position. This can be quite awkward if your boss doesn’t know your plans, so think about how you are going to let people know.

Read the job adverts in the trade press for your profession or chosen industry. Read the print magazine as well as the websites for your industry, and don’t discount the job ads in newspapers as well – you never know what you might find. Keep your eyes open for new places where jobs may be advertised and don’t forget to check your internal company noticeboard. Your ideal job may be in a different office for the same company!

When you’ve found jobs that interest you, apply. Send your CV or resume and a professional covering letter. Then cross your fingers and wait for the interviews to start lining up!

What are your personal objectives in 2013? Let us know in the comments.

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