12/18/2013 12:25 EST | Updated 02/17/2014 05:59 EST

Five Ways to Grab Hold of Your Career

If you have not taken your career into your own hands, make that your New Year's resolution.

Some of us are told education is the key for success; others are told to work for a large company, the government or a bank, and the expected result is a job for life. The truth is that in a very volatile marketplace in the 21st century, there is no one ingredient for success. You need to apply a number of strategies and approaches to ensure your marketability. You are the only person that can secure life-time employment.

People today need to deal with greater uncertainty in the marketplace and a good way to do this is to take ownership of your career. It is clear that individuals who consciously invest in their careers stand out from other employees.

To take your career in your own hands, here are five important tips from Knightsbridge:

  1. Gain Insight: Through self-assessments, know your strengths and areas that need improvement, and determine if those are what are in demand in the marketplace. Make sure your skillset is up to date. Know what you need for today, and for tomorrow.
  2. Know and Express Your Value: Understand your value to the organization, your team and the marketplace. Make sure your goals are aligned with your manager's goals and the overall strategy of the company. Communicate this value regularly to your manager to help ensure you are included in broader corporate growth.
  3. Develop and Manage Your Brand/Reputation: Everyone has a personal brand or reputation, and it is important to manage it effectively. Understand your own credibility and track record, and how you are perceived by others. Speak to a manager, colleagues and even friends to gather feedback. Do some self-reflection through someone else's eyes and then determine what characteristics to keep working on and what should remain the same.
  4. Build Your Network: Cross network and get to know people better on your team, within your company and in the marketplace. Taking the time to network is a crucial investment in your career. "Coffee" and "lunch" are important skills to learn and have. You can't just be networking when you're looking for a job.
  5. Share Your Goals: Managers can't read minds, so give them a sense of who you are, what you want and your expectations. Seek out your manager, don't just wait for your quarterly or annual review. Have ongoing career conversations in formal and informal settings.

Employers are also realizing that there is a huge benefit to helping individuals take accountability and reach their professional goals. In fact, recent research we conducted in partnership with the Human Capital Institute found that 78 per cent of organizations that implement career management tools effectively report a positive revenue growth.

Good career advice can also come from peers. If you are looking for inspiration on how to take your career in your own hands, read and share the messages being left by business leaders and professionals from across the country on the Knightsbridge Gift of Advice LinkedIn page. For each post, Knightsbridge will donate $25 to the United Way for a total of up to $20,000.

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