Your artistry and skills are in high demand. Some of the hottest creative positions right now are in graphic design, user experience (UX) design and web design, according to The Creative Group 2017 Salary Guide. But even though your job prospects are good, you shouldn’t wait around for offers to fall in your lap. Set these career goals in the new year to truly take advantage of the current job market.
Intimidated by the thought of mapping out your professional future? Don’t be. The process doesn’t have to be daunting, and it may even be exciting and inspirational. The key is to make sure all of your career goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound.
Take a look at five ways to improve your marketability and amp up your job prospects in 2017.
5 Creative Career Goals & Strategies for a More Successful 2017
1. Become a “dual threat.”
In football, dual threats are quarterbacks who can run as well as they throw. To succeed in today’s creative environment, you must also be able to do more than one thing well. That’s because hybrid professionals—for example, graphic designers who are familiar with web layouts or social media – are in high demand. Consider expanding your skill set as one of your career goals for 2017.
It’s easy to add a hot specialization to your toolbox given the many skill development options available. After you feel proficient in your new skill, list it on your resume and LinkedIn profile (under Courses). Be sure to set milestones and deadlines along the way to reach this career goal.
2. Get a certification or degree.
In the design field, your digital portfolio and years of experience are largely what gets you in the door. However, many employers give preference to candidates with some college education, while others require a bachelor’s degree. If you are at a place in your life where additional schooling is a possibility, include this as you update your career goals. Not only will your design skills improve with additional formal education, but so will your job prospects.
Certifications also help your resume stand out. Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) offers a variety of single product, specialist and master certifications. If you’re a project manager interested in leading UX programs, the PM-UX is a good option. For 2017, make it a career goal to pursue a post-secondary degree or industry credential.
3. Make connections.
Building your network is also an excellent way to improve your job prospects. Join your local AIGA chapter and make it a point to get to know creative professionals in your area. And consider picking at least one national design conference, like HOW Design Live, to attend this year.
Regardless of your methods, set measurable goals to help you connect with other creative professionals. As examples, resolve to have coffee with two former colleagues per quarter, make one new contact per month or spend 30 minutes a week sending emails to keep connections viable.
4. Define your brand.
Do you have a personal brand? Whether you’re a full-time employee or a freelancer, make it one of your career goals to develop or update your brand, which can be a powerful tool when job searching. Set aside a few hours to identify your style, philosophy and values, and think about what differentiates you from every other designer out there.
Then market yourself. Social media is a natural place to build your brand. Possible career goals include tweeting more regularly, creating video clips for your Facebook account and curating a stunning Instagram page. Measure your progress with digital analytics and media tracking tools. A solid brand presence goes a long way in boosting your job prospects.
5. Work with a mentor.
A knowledgeable mentor can provide helpful advice and encouragement at any stage of your career. Identify a design mentor and ask if he or she would be willing to meet with you once a month. Spell out your objectives beforehand, such as to become a more effective communicator or to prepare yourself for management. Be sure to agree on how long the formal relationship will last. After all, the role of a good mentor is to prepare you to fly solo.
Setting career goals is more than a New Year’s resolution. It is the launching pad for getting smarter about the industry, improving your job prospects and landing the design job that’s the best fit for you.