ACDS Adviser: 7 Goals to Jump-Start Your Career in 2024

A desert road landscape with a giant white 2024 sitting against the sky.


Success is a journey, and the new year is a great time to plan the next step

Clint Hankinson,
Director of Marketing,

WOW. THE HOLIDAYS are in the rear-view mirror and the new year is already here. And maybe you’ve put together some goals for personal growth or spending more time with your family, but you’re a little uncertain about your next career step. You’re ready to start something new—something fresh—but not sure how to put the pieces together.

The start of a new year is the perfect time to assess, plan, and set goals to build a career that brings you fulfillment and allows you to make a positive impact on your family and your community. So let’s get started with moving forward on these critical goals:

1. Get to Really Know You

Before diving into a new career, take the time to understand your strengths, weaknesses, values, and interests. The most important part of this process is honesty. Be honest with yourself about these areas. It will make your next career step—and every step thereafter—align with how you truly want to spend your time and energy. Don’t apply for the manager position if you have no interest in hiring and leading people. There are plenty of opportunities for a successful career without having to be someone’s supervisor.

So conduct a thorough self-assessment to identify the skills you excel in and the ones you need to develop. What did you enjoy about previous jobs? What kind of work could you see yourself doing for free, or as a hobby? What natural talents and interests did you have as a child? This self-discovery process will reveal your strongest potential job positions and guide you in choosing a career path that aligns with your passions, ensuring a more fulfilling and sustainable professional journey.

2. Upskill

Once you’ve identified your areas of interest, your strengths, and your weaknesses, focus on acquiring or enhancing the skills you need for your desired career. Attend workshops, enroll in courses, pursue certifications, and leverage online learning platforms to stay updated on industry trends and ever-changing skills. Continually upskilling yourself will not only make you a more competitive candidate but also boost your confidence in your new role.

ACDS offers pre-apprenticeship training for Arkansans seeking to pursue technology jobs. We partner with training organizations that offer courses and certifications on a wide range of industry sectors.

3. Build Relationships

Life is all about relationships. Building a strong professional network is essential for career success. You should attend in-person and online industry events, join relevant online communities like LinkedIn, and connect with professionals in your chosen field. Network with the mindset of simply connecting with people and learning their stories. People are fascinating and can teach you invaluable lessons. Prioritize building relationships. Let the urgency of trying to secure a new job take a backseat in your networking strategy.

Networking provides opportunities for mentorship, advice, and potential job leads. Cultivating authentic and meaningful connections can open doors to valuable insights and collaborations, contributing to your upward career trajectory.

4. Set Goals

Establish clear and realistic short-term and long-term goals for your career this year. Break these goals into smaller, manageable tasks to track your progress effectively. Whether it’s securing an entry-level position, earning a promotion, or acquiring new skills, having well-defined goals will keep you motivated and focused.

Your number one goal in any position is to be excellent at it. Don’t jump past the obvious in order to reach a higher role. Being great at your job is the foundation upon which you grow and advance.

5. Build Your Brand

The job market is always competitive. To be present, and to stand out, it’s crucial to develop your personal brand. Create a strong and professional online presence through platforms like LinkedIn. In some industries, an active presence on Instagram and Facebook is valuable. Consistently engaging on these platforms enables you to share your expertise and interact with leaders in your field, including potential employers.

Optimize your resume to showcase your skills, accomplishments, and experiences relevant to your target industry and position. A compelling personal brand will make you stand out to potential employers and recruiters.

6. Master Interviewing

This is a critical skill that deserves a goal all by itself. Practice, practice, practice. Practice common interview questions, research the company and understand who they’re looking for, refine your communication skills, and develop a confident and professional demeanor. The more you improve your performance in job interviews, the greater your opportunity to secure the jobs you want.

Consider each interview as your next chance to hone your skills, regardless of the result. Take advantage of mock interviews. The Talent Team at ACDS offers these to the candidates we work with, and they provide excellent feedback for improvement.

7. Work-Life Balance

Finally, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is vital for your long-term career satisfaction. At the beginning of this new year, set boundaries, prioritize self-care, and establish a routine that allows for your personal and professional growth. Life is short, and you only have one shot. Building a balanced life not only enhances your well-being, it also contributes to increased productivity and effectiveness in your career.

So, Remember…

You’re in charge of your career. You can’t delegate it or hope someone else will craft it for you. The start of a new year is an excellent time to evaluate where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you want to go. Being intentional about growing your career and executing on goals such as these will greatly improve your chances of success.

If you’re interested in starting a career in IT, Advanced Manufacturing, or Energy/Environment, the team at ACDS can help you. Learn more at Remember that success is a journey, not a destination, and each step taken toward these goals will contribute to your overall career advancement.