The beginning of the year is an exciting time. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the previous year (the good, the bad and what we learned), plus a chance to set personal and professional goals for the future.

The process can be a bit daunting, but as we’ve touched on before, setting goals is an essential part of any job search. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, just remember that your career goals should be “SMART” That is, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. This should be an exciting and inspiring time!

Here’s how to incorporate these factors in your goals when you think about how to map out your next steps as you tackle your job search in 2017.

6 Steps to Reaching Your Career Goals This Year

1. Get Clear on Your Values

The first step in landing a great new job is figuring out what you want that job to look like. If you’re currently unemployed, we know it can be tough not to jump at any opportunity. And you should absolutely consider everything! But it’s important to identify what you’re looking for in an employer, in order to find a great fit. If you don’t consider your values, you may end up stuck in a job you hate. Set a goal to identify your career-related values and what matters most to you in a job and an employer.

2. Expand Your Skill Set

If you want to land your dream job this year, you’ll need to develop new skills. In the modern career landscape, employers are looking for candidates who have multiple areas of expertise, and are always willing to learn more. Ideally your skills compliment each other. For example, a copywriter who also has photography skills, or an HR professional who also understands analytics. Be sure to add your skills to your resume and LinkedIn profiles, and highlight them in interviews. Here are a few great resources to develop your skill set. Set a goal to develop at least one new career-related skill this year.

3. Grow Your Network

There’s not doubt about it – who you know matters when it comes to your job search. However, your connections don’t need to be long time friends or past colleagues. You can grow your network in many different ways, and you can start right away! Attend networking events, ideally relevant to your career field, or set up coffee meetings. You can even network on social media using tools like LinkedIn and Twitter. Set a goal to dedicate at least one night a week to networking (either in person or online).

4. Build Your Brand

One might say that creating a personal brand has become a career requirement in many industries these days. Whether you work in a creative field or are seeking a job in a competitive area, chances are you need to stand out. The best way to do this is to create a personal brand, so potential employers understand who you are and the value you offer. They’ll then start seeking you out. Here’s a helpful guide if you’re ready to get started. Set a goal to create a website or online portfolio you can reference on your resume and other online platforms. Don’t worry, there are many free options out there!

5. Identify a Mentor

Everyone, no matter what level of experience, can benefit from having a mentor. It’s a powerful way to learn from someone who is knowledgeable in a given field, while also having someone in your corner rooting for you. The simple factor of being able to turn to a mentor in difficult times is extremely helpful. If you aren’t employed by a company or don’t know any other potential mentors, don’t worry! You don’t need to know someone to be mentored by him or her. Read books written by credible authors in your field, or follow thought leaders through blogs or LinkedIn. Set a goal to identify and connect with a career mentor, whether it’s someone you know or someone you can learn from virtually.

6. Track Your Progress

This one’s key for taking action and making things happen this year. Write out your goals and place them someplace visible, maybe on your desk by your computer or on your fridge. Once you start searching for jobs, save them to Rake to create your personal job tracker. From there, keep track of everything using the app – applications, notes, even to-do lists. Set your follow up reminders and be sure to check in daily to track your progress. This important step will help you manage all the details, so you can focus on your goals and find that perfect gig.

Here’s to a successful 2017! We can’t wait to see you nail your goals. Take action now, and get started on your search today!