Forget about that New Year resolution to lose weight.

What you really need is a resolution to keep your job, say job placement experts who insist that 2012 will be a pivotal year.

"Employers are definitely turning their attention toward retention and recruiting" this year, said John Challenger, CEO of the outplacement employment giant Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

While more attention on employee retention is welcome news, employees shouldn't relax.

"Companies are concerned about losing talented workers, but they also know that the labor pool is full of willing and able candidates. So if you have a job, your workplace resolutions should be focused on keeping it as well as putting yourself in a position for a possible salary increase or promotion," Challenger said. "Those who want to keep or improve their positions in the new year are not going to do so by flying under the radar."

The problem is no one knows for sure on which side of the employment seesaw they will land.

Recent employer surveys from manufacturing associations and the Federal Reserve Bank suggest employers are finally in the mood to hire. But economists say the European debt crisis, weak U.S. housing markets and government spending cuts could bring disaster to the job front.

So, job keepers and job hunters need to be resolute and aggressive, job coaches say. For those looking to keep their jobs, Challenger offers these resolutions:

•Seek more responsibility.

•Meet your boss' boss.

•Set deadlines for your resolutions.

•Join a company committee.

•Find or become a mentor.

•Find ways to save your company money.

David Magy, who runs an executive search firm in Wayzata, said existing employees should have at least three resolutions for 2012. Keep taking seminars and classes, reconnect with distant contacts, and attend lots of professional association meetings.

The idea is to "be incredibly up to date in their field," Magy said, adding that his corporate clients are starting to ask, "'How can I make my workers happy?' They are staring to ask how can they recruit their current staff." Resolve to be ready.

If you hope to nab a new job this year, there are other resolutions to make.

As demoralizing as the economic banter may be, stay positive and network like a champ. Use social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. And don't be shy about physically getting into your community: Volunteer or join a professional trade association or both.

The pros at Challenger suggest that job seekers meet 10 new people in their field. Minnesota job counselors working with the Dislocated Worker Program counsel laid-off Ford workers in St. Paul to tune up their computer skills, conduct mock job interviews and stay in touch with each other.

You never know where the next job lead will come from.

Gaye Lindfors, founder of Significant Solutions Inc. and the former human resources director of Northwest Airlines, says job seekers are smart to regularly reach out to contacts, send New Year's cards and gravitate toward jobs that naturally excite passion. After all that work, don't sabotage a job search with a mismatched résumé.

"This is something I am seeing in résumés that gets to be a little troubling. Applicants are not making the connection on their résumé between their background and what the position requires," she said. "The employer is not going to take the time to figure out, 'How does that candidate's background match what I am looking for?' So make it easy for them."

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725