Three Big Career Resolutions to Make in 2016 A new year brings new personal resolutions — to get more sleep, to exercise, to travel more. Why not make a few career resolutions as well? It’s good timing. Many people take extra time off over the holidays and return to work feeling refreshed and ready.

Considering and refocusing your approach to work can be an intimidating exercise. But don’t stress! After all, reducing stress is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. We’re sharing a few big career resolutions you may want to consider in 2016. Remember, you don’t have to hit these goals 100 percent to achieve success. Simply starting on the path will make a difference.

Re-engage.

Highly engaged workers are more productive, but finding that spark can be challenging. Research from the Gallup Organization suggests more than half of employees in the United States are disengaged from their work. Motivating employees is a corporate responsibility, to be sure. But you can also take steps yourself to find the excitement in your everyday work.

Before you begin an effort — whether it’s a routine task or a massive project — challenge yourself to consider what’s amazing about it. Perhaps it’s the simple pleasure of making a process as efficient as possible. Maybe it’s an aspect you’ve never encountered and you’re amped by the challenge. Maybe it’s the impact the project will have on the world. Jot it down and remind yourself of it frequently.

It’s exciting to be excited by your work — and once you practice that mindset on a few tasks it will trickle down to all your efforts.

Do something that scares you.

I can speak firsthand to this advice. I’m in the process of relocating to a new office in a new city to gain new experience and push my career forward. As a native of Illinois, moving out of the state is a huge step for me. Is it scary? You bet. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

There’s a simple reason most people stay in their comfort zone — it’s just so comfortable. But if you never challenge your personal status quo, you’ll never know your full capabilities. Flip insecurity into curiosity. Those skills you’ve mastered as part of the engineering, design and construction process? Use them on anything that intimidates you. Once you’ve set your mind to something, research it, analyze techniques and select the best approach.

Public speaking is a common anxiety; nearly 30 percent of Americans are “afraid or very afraid” of it. Yet conquering this fear can make a real difference, helping you command attention and respect. The same goes for other “scary” things. Speak up in that big meeting. Attend that networking event (and don’t just hang with your workplace besties). Ask for that new responsibility on your next project.

The people around you aren’t waiting for your failure; they’re excited about your success. So go for it and conquer things you never imagined.

Be curious.

The benefits of lifelong learning are legion — personally and in the workplace. Think of curiosity as powerlifting for your brain. A recent study from the University of California-Davis showed that the process of being curious actually changes the brain, preparing it not just to learn about the topic at hand but ancillary information as well.

With many educational opportunities available online, continuing your education is easier than ever. Find holes in your skill set and fill them; your new skills will make you more attractive to your employer. Knock out that licensing exam or gain a new certification. Pursuing your personal interests can reveal hidden benefits as well. After diving into that professional cooking course, you may just discover yourself engaged in a fascinating conversation with your foodie CEO.

Both Albert Einstein and Walt Disney counted curiosity as a defining trait. Questioning and wondering brings up new ideas and broadens your thinking.

What big resolutions have made a difference in your careers? Tell us more in the comments.

Rick Walker is a senior human resources professional at Burns &McDonnell with more than 10 years of experience in retention, employee relations, recruitment, benefits and HR training. If you’d like to learn more about career opportunities available at Burns & McDonnell, connect with Rick on LinkedIn.

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Tips for Settling into a New JobThousands of people will start a new job today. Are you one of them? Day one on your new job is an exciting and pivotal time, as you’ll be making indelible first impressions on colleagues and leadership. It’s enough to make anyone nervous! But — as with most things — preparation can make a big difference. Follow these top tips to settle successfully into your new job.

Treat your first week like an extended interview.

Every first week is different, depending on the company. But regardless of those differences, your attitude should be the same — prepared, enthusiastic and confident.

  • Know your environment. Brush up on the company’s history, market segments, products, competitors and customer base.
  • Know your role. Understand your title and responsibilities based on your job description and interviews.
  • Know your personal brand. Prepare a succinct elevator speech about yourself for introductions. You’ll make a positive first impression without rambling.
  • Take notes. It shows preparedness and intention. Plus, you’ll rely on those notes to help acclimate to your new environment. They might even save you from the embarrassment of introducing yourself to someone you have already met.
  • Shake off your nerves. Be confident but humble. You were selected from a competitive pool of candidates, so you’re already valued for the qualifications you’ll bring to the organization.

Take initiative and be outgoing.

Every personality type has something to offer in the workplace. But now is not the time to be shy, even if putting yourself out there is outside your comfort zone.

  • Say hello. Take time to introduce yourself to managers, peers or direct reports. Show genuine interest in their role and how you’ll work with them.
  • Show initiative. Volunteer to help on a project team or take on extra responsibilities. Jumping right in allows you to make an impact quickly — and identifies you as a team player.
  • Get involved. Everyone has obligations outside of work, but it’s worth it to make time for events during lunch or after the workday. Connecting with colleagues on a personal level strengthens your business relationship.

Understand the company culture.

In all likelihood, the culture is a big part of what attracted you to your company. Now is your chance to be a part of it.

  • Connect with colleagues. Being a part of your company’s brand is one thing you have in common with every coworker. Embracing it together will help you forge a cohesive bond.
  • Be the brand. Chances are, you met someone during the hiring process who embodied the brand in a way that resonated with you. As you settle in to the company, try to be that brand ambassador to people who may want to learn more.
  • Match your style. Learning the culture will help you tailor your personal work style and approach in your new position, helping you understand the best way to advance your ideas and achieve your goals.
  • Understand your manager’s work style. Are they hands-off? Manage your time wisely to meet deadlines. Hands-on? Provide proactive status updates. Do they hold team meetings? Contribute and collaborate.
  • Observe the culture. Everyone loves a team player and wants someone who will make valuable contributions. Don’t be shy about sharing your ideas. On the other hand, don’t come in being too overzealous. Take time to learn why things are the way they way before offering up what may or may not be a better solution.

Set goals — it’s never too early to think big.

It may be your first day, week, month or quarter of your new job, but it’s never too early to set personal and professional goals. Understand what you hope to accomplish in this position, then go for it.

  • Think about what you can improve. Once you’ve been in your new role for a few months, it’s time to start thinking about what you improve upon or add to the position. Seek out more efficient processes, new reporting tools or more effective business strategies.
  • Consider your career path. Your future starts today, so understand how this position can be the first step on a promising path. Take action to excel and maximize your time to benefit yourself and the company.
  • Take advantage of resources. Your company wants you to succeed as much as you do, so take advantage of the resources offered. Develop consistent meeting times with your manager and request frequent feedback. Partner with a mentor to maximize your personal growth.
  • Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask relevant questions rather than make assumptions. Most people understand you’re new to the position and eager to make an impact. Besides, listening intently to the answers you’re given is a way to demonstrate respect.

What are your best tips for those first days, weeks and months on the job? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Matt Briner is a human resources professional with 10+ years of experience in full-cycle talent acquisition, employee relations, vendor management, benefits, training, and development. Matt’s followed his own advice over the past year, going from a new employee to strong team member of Burns & Mac’s HR team.  

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STEM Education Pays Off for a Lifetime

by Emily Rhoden December 17, 2015

There’s no question STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — education is the bridge to a brighter future for the next generation. In the past 10 years, jobs requiring STEM skills are grew at three times non-STEM jobs. Those with STEM jobs earn 26 percent higher wages than those in other fields. And the top 10 […]

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Tips for the Office Holiday Party Season

by Jen Parker December 2, 2015

’Tis the season for office holiday parties! Last year, 96 percent of companies planned a holiday party — the highest percentage in nearly 20 years. These events offer a wonderful opportunity to share a little seasonal cheer with colleagues — and gain exposure to higher-ups. But office parties come with their share of challenges. What should […]

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Women in Architecture: Resources for Professional Growth

by Amy Slattery October 14, 2015

Women have historically been underrepresented in architecture, but a recent report from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) shows encouraging and steady growth in numbers of women entering the profession. This year’s study, 2015 NCARB by the Numbers, found a record-high number of women are on the path to earning their architecture license. […]

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Celebrating Employee Ownership Month

by The Burns & McDonnell Careers Team October 9, 2015

It’s finally October, which means National Employee Ownership Month is officially underway! And for those who know us, you know we never pass up an opportunity to celebrate. But there’s a lot more to this month’s celebrations than food and fun. Our Employee Stock Ownership Plan — or ESOP — defines who we are as […]

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