5 New Year's Resolutions Every Career-Minded Millennial Should Make

ByDan Schawbel

Next year is going to be a big year for millennials as another million enter the workforce. Economists are already predicting that there will be a hiring boom in early 2013. Hopefully, this means that the high Gen Y unemployment rate of 13.5% will be reduced. More companies are poised to bring on more interns and hire more entry-level employees next year as well.

Given this potential for economic advancement, here are the top five New Year's resolutions every millennial should make for next year.

1. Be accountable for your career.

Your degree or internship won't automatically turn into a job, as you might already know. These days, you have to be accountable for your own career and take charge of your own life. You aren't entitled and no one is going to hand you a job — you have to go grab it. Bloomberg reports that the American Dream has faded for Gen Y. We won't be living like our parents and their parents did, and that's fine. Instead of trying to have their dream, we have to create our own individual ones. Decide what you want your dream to look like, make New Year's resolutions and commit to your idea of success.

2. Save as much money as you can.

Knowing that the economy is bad and that you may have student loans and other expenses, you should be saving your money and investing it. Bank of America’s Fall 2012 Merrill Edge Report shows that Gen Y is the generation most concerned over the impact of the economy on their ability to meet financial goals, at 83% compared to the national average at 75%. Saving money will benefit you during unemployment and underemployment and help you preserve your retirement. If you fail to save, then you will be living with your parents when you're married with children ... and no one wants that.

3. Educate yourself beyond the classroom.

Start reading books, blogs, and trade magazines in your field. Go to conferences and local events to meet people and get mentors. Go through online courses such as SkillShare.comMIT's Open CoursewareUdemy, and even the Khan Academy's resources. Take free online tutorials to learn web skills or advanced computer skills. Find mentors in your field instead of just relying on your parents. These people can give you insight into what you need to do in order to be successful in your profession and they might even be able to connect you to the right hiring manager to help you secure a job.

4. Develop your social skills.

In a research report, we found that soft skills carry more weight than hard skills in the hiring process. Employers view communication skills (98%), having a positive attitude (97%) and teamwork skills (92%) as being important or very important when hiring for entry-level positions. This means that you should start focusing on soft skills if you want to get a job and excel in it. The problem most millennials have is that they are so wired with technology that it's hard to disconnect. In fact, 20% of millennials check their phones within five minutes of waking up. Start meeting people in person as much as you can so you force yourself to gain these critical skills.

5. Start your own passion project.

If you aren't fulfilled at work or you can't find work, then start a project that you're passionate about. Kelly Services reports that personal growth and fulfillment are the most important factors for Gen Y workers when considering job roles. More millennials are starting to turn to entrepreneurship and consulting because they can't land jobs. By working on a project that you're passionate about, you will invest time in it and it could potentially turn into a successful venture if you're lucky. If it fails or doesn't meet your goals, you will still learn from the experience and having something to put on your resume and talk about in interviews.

Dan Schawbel is the Founder of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm. He recently made the Forbes Magazine 30 Under 30 list and his second book called Promote Yourself: The New Art of Getting Ahead is due out in the Fall of 2013 by St. Martin's Press. He is offering an online course called "Build Your Personal Brand in 4 Easy Steps."