5 ways to level up your career before the end of the year

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The holiday season may feel a little slower this year, which could provide extra time to reflect on the past 12 months of your professional life and tackle some to-dos in your career. CNBC Make It spoke with Monster career expert Vicki Salemi for her top list of things you can do now to reset, create new intentions and prepare for a smooth return to work in 2021, wherever that may be.

Clean your workspace

As you might use the end of the year to straighten up your desk in an office, Salemi says to do the same for your work-from-home space. Clear out your junk drawer, shred older paperwork or get rid of books you no longer need, for example.

It's also a good time to do a bigger audit of your setup, Salemi adds. Think through what would make your workspace more efficient and comfortable. Is the size of your desk working for you? What about your chair? Do you need better lighting, and can that be done with a lamp or by moving to a different room in your home?

Also think about what equipment you can get covered through your employer, such as part of your Wi-Fi bill or a printer. In the same vein, Salemi adds to submit any office expenses you need to file before the end of December.

Set career intentions

"Now that the dust has settled, you may have some breathing room to think, 'Where do I see my career going in 2021 and beyond?'" Salemi says.

In the next year, with consideration to the job market and the pandemic's impact on your line of work, think about whether that's attainable by getting a new job, negotiating a raise, moving up in title or landing a performance-based bonus.

Schedule 30 minutes with your boss to discuss your goals, Salemi says. Come prepared with what you feel is your plan for getting there — maybe you want to become certified in a new skill or start a new project — and get your manager's feedback on what you need to complete or demonstrate to move into the next level.

Now is also the time to review your accomplishments and make the case for a raise, Salemi says. "Be prepared with talking points and testimonials" about your successes, she adds.

Refresh your resume

Salemi says it's a good time to add big accomplishments from the past year to your resume. "What projects can you add? Be quantifiable and get the numbers" to show impact, Salemi says. You may also want to tweak your current responsibilities that have changed due to the pandemic. For example, if you're a manager, you can add that you managed employees across time zones, or made three new hires while leading remotely.

Build your connections

Limited interaction during the pandemic has shrunk the average person's social networks by 17% — or roughly 200 people — according to research from Yale School of Management professor Marissa King. These days, she tells CNBC Make It, people tend to only interact with their closest colleagues on a daily basis. What people are missing, then, are casual run-ins with acquaintances and collaborating with people from different departments.

That makes this time of year a good opportunity to reach out to people in your organization that you've met and worked with before but maybe haven't heard from in a few months.

If you hate traditional networking, King says, reframe your ask and think about what you can give to them by reaching out. Maybe it's an expression of gratitude for their help on a project this year, or a feeling of inclusion by wishing them well during the holidays. "Everyone is starved for social connection," King says. "Get over the idea of networking being dirty."

Make your return-to-office plan

If your employer has already set a date in the future for you to return to the office full-time, start thinking about what you've learned about your work style while remote and how you might incorporate new ideas back at the office.

On the flip side, Salemi says you can also start floating the idea to your boss if you'd like to remain remote full- or part-time. Consider all the ways you've had to adjust and build a case for why you'll be able to continue succeeding from home even if the team transitions back to an in-person setting.

Explain how the arrangement would benefit both you and the organization, experts say. By starting discussions early, you can talk through any hesitations or logistics that need to be worked out before it's put into action.

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