One of the more popular New Year’s resolutions is to find a better job. But simply making resolutions won’t accomplish your goals (I’m reminded of this every time I step on a scale). The good news for the career-minded? We enter the holiday season in a fantastic job market and new opportunities abound. With positive market conditions, the annual post-holiday uptick in hiring, combined with a commitment to growing your career, 2019 is a great year to turn your resolutions into realities. Here are some tips to make it happen:
1.Put your network to work through some holiday cheer. In today’s war for talent, most employers are encouraging and often incentivizing their employees to be on the lookout for future teammates. They may be your former colleagues, neighbors and college roommates. Now is the time to leverage your network to get quality job leads and warm introductions to hiring managers. A ‘Happy Holidays to you & yours’ can be a great way to reconnect with old friends and colleagues and an effective and organic way to let them know you’re on the lookout for that right career move.
2. Stand out on LinkedIn. After reading your resume, employers head to your LinkedIn page. It’s crucial your LinkedIn profile leaves a positive impression and tells a story that compels a hiring manager to reach out. Use a professional photo that looks like you! Make sure the employment section is up-to-date and matches your resume. Highlight your career-related accomplishments and passions. Continually grow your LinkedIn network and ask for (and give) recommendations from colleagues and former managers. Your LinkedIn page is part of a database being searched daily by thousands of recruiters, so make sure it includes the appropriate buzzwords and search terms that correlate with the types of jobs you want to hear about. Be findable!
3. Be a social (media) butterfly. Having a professional social media presence is a must-have for job seekers. We’ve already covered LinkedIn, but don’t forget about Twitter. The same rules apply—use a professional picture and a well-crafted bio that encapsulates your professional self, all in a condensed manner. Tech-savvy employers are tweeting out their higher profile and most urgent job openings. Make a list of the companies you’re interested in and follow them! And don’t forget to tweet. Post content that includes relevant keywords and hashtags that are pertinent to your search. The key with social media is to pick a few and commit to using them. You may be surprised with what your social media efforts can produce.
4. Get an agent. Having an agent isn’t reserved for professional athletes. Recruiters can be one of your biggest assets in this process if you’re working with a good one. In addition to being a direct conduit to employers, a knowledgeable recruiter will share general intelligence on the market to include salary trends, what companies are hiring and tailored interview prep. Don’t have a recruiter? Find one that is reputable and has a market focus that aligns with your career. Ask your network for recommendations. Working with the right recruiter can be invaluable, but working with the wrong one can be damaging. Don’t commit until you’ve found one you trust and feel comfortable working with.
5. Get to know the candidate in the mirror. Before you start the process, take an honest self-assessment. What’s most important? Taking on more responsibility, having a work-life balance that allows you to coach your kids’ sports teams on mid-week afternoons? Working for a company with a socially impactful mission? Your career goals and objectives may differ from the last time you looked for a job. Priorities change, and you don’t want to realize this after you start your new job.
6. Be ready to act. When a new opportunity comes about, employers will be motivated to fill it quickly. Be ready to match their level of urgency, or you could miss out. Make sure your resume is up-to-date and ready to be presented with confidence. Assemble a list of references and confirm their consent and readiness to come through for you. Prepare for interviews by crafting your “elevator pitch”—a succinct, but powerful, message that explains what makes you unique and why a company can’t live without you.
7. About that resume. Having your resume ready means a lot more than updating the months and years you’ve spent at your current employer. Resumes that include just the basics—overview, job titles, day-to-day responsibilities, education, etc.—can all start to look the same. How do you make yours stand out? Highlight how you have progressed within the organizations you’ve served. Instead of listing your responsibilities, detail what you have accomplished for the company. When you pick and choose what to include, give priority to what seems most pertinent for the specific opening for which you are applying.
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. A successful job search can’t be accomplished alone. At some point—whether it’s asking your former boss to be a reference or asking your prospective boss for the job—going through the interview process becomes an exercise in collaboration. The earlier you start asking for help, the better. In addition to contacting your network, work up the courage to attend networking events and have the same conversations with strangers. Professional networkers are accustomed to asking, “How can I help?” If you take the same approach, you will quickly fit in and form new partnerships that can pay big dividends.
9. Nothing that’s worthwhile comes easy. Odds are, the first online application you make with your resume isn’t going to lead to your next great opportunity. Completing a successful job search takes focus, persistence and hard work. Adding this to an already full plate that includes your current job, family responsibilities and social life can make it hard to find the time. Get into a routine and hold yourself accountable, whether allotting every Tuesday night to attend a networking event or getting up early on Saturdays to search for new leads and send out resumes. Create a system that works and stick to it.
10. Work the room. Whether you are amid a job search or not, the connections made by getting immersed in groups can be invaluable to your career. Find a trade association, meet-up group, fan club or online discussion forum that overlaps with your career and get involved. Try attending an event or two within different groups and determine which will be most beneficial before you commit to just one. Introverted? Even more reason to go! You’re going to need to be in a conversational mood for interviews, so why not practice in a no-stakes setting?
11. Put on your sales hat. Even if you’re a sales representative by trade, the act of selling oneself can be uncomfortable. However, if you aren’t able or willing, you’ll quickly find yourself losing out to your competition. A good resume secures an interview, but it’s the (great) interview that gets you selected for the job. The candidate who leaves the best impression is one who is most confident in their unique skills and experience and able to enthusiastically articulate this through words, body language and demeanor. Practice makes perfect, so work on your sales pitch and you’ll find yourself getting more and more comfortable in delivering it.
12. No one is good at everything, but everyone is good at something. Presenting yourself as all things to all people isn’t good for anyone. You’ll confuse your network on what you’re looking for, or worse—you’ll get yourself into a situation where you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Take the time to map out your strengths and your professional interests, then go after the opportunities at the intersection of the two.
13. Talk is cheap. Saying that you’re ready for a change is easy. Putting in the time, effort and execution required to act on making that change is a different matter altogether. Occasionally applying to a job here or there doesn’t pay off. Make your search a priority and turn your words into actions. If you let weeks and months go by without taking the proper steps, you could find yourself mentally checking out at work and having your performance suffer or seeing that volatility you were worried about after your company’s recent acquisition come to fruition. Your position as a job seeker is improved if you are gainfully employed so don’t delay.
14. Don’t settle! If you’re being selective (as you should be—this is your career we’re talking about!), the search process might take longer than expected. And if you’ve been committed to it, you’ve logged a lot of hours and poured a lot of energy into the process. So when an offer comes in for a job that doesn’t match what you set out to find, part of you may want to accept it just so the process can be over with. The decisions that you make as a job seeker have both short-term and long-term implications on your job security and earning potential. It’s critical that you have the resolve to stick with it until you find the right fit. There’s nothing worse than having to start all over in six to twelve months (or sooner) because you acted hastily.
If you think you’re ready to make a resolution of taking the next step in your career, now is the time to start preparing. With some good planning and hard work, you could get a new job soon after that New Year’s ball drops!
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