One of the more popular New Year’s resolutions is to find a better job. However, as I’m reminded every time I step on a scale, it is not the resolutions themselves that accomplish your goals but the action you take on them.
The good news for career-minded folks this time of year: We enter the next decade 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, 2020 is a great year to turn your resolutions into realities. Here are some tips to find a better job in the new year:
Before you do anything, take a self-assessment to get to the root of *why* you want a change. What’s most important? Taking on more responsibility, or 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, or maximizing your earning potential? Don’t gloss over these important questions too quickly, either, as your career goals and objectives may differ from the last time you looked for a job. Priorities change throughout our lives and you want to find a job that aligns with what’s important today, not yesterday.
In today’s job market, not only is there great variety to the work itself but also in how it is performed, and how employees are compensated for it. While examining the type of opportunity you are looking for, you should also explore the questions behind your own how and why. Not only are companies starting to offer more and more flexibility around schedules and working from outside the office, some organizations are becoming completely distributed where the entire workforce is remote. Being in an office each day, or even most days, is no longer a cost of doing business. There is also significantly more variety and flexibility in how employees are compensated, particularly around perks and benefits. Companies are finding new and creative ways to reward their employees with what is most meaningful to them as individuals.
When interested in your candidacy, immediately after reading your resume, employers head to your LinkedIn page. It’s crucial your profile leaves a positive impression and tells a story that compels a hiring manager to reach out. Use a professional photo. Make sure your 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 searched daily by thousands of recruiters and hiring managers, 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!
Having an established presence on professional social networking sites is no longer a nice-to-have – it is a must. With that, the bar for standing out on these platforms is higher. But, how? Video could be your answer. Try posting brief videos on LinkedIn and other platforms that communicate the impressive elements of your background, experience or expertise. Video is a great way to engage with your audience in a way that also maximizes your social media ROI. While you don’t need to hire a show runner to create these videos, make sure they are professional and that the setting, attire, lighting and audio are all crisp and appropriate. Ultimately, the key with social media is to pick a few tactics and commit to using them consistently over the course of your search.
Having an agent isn’t just for professional athletes or movie stars. Recruiters can be one of your biggest assets in the job seeking process if you’re working with a good one. Well-networked recruiters are direct conduits to employers, and a knowledgeable recruiter can share valuable intelligence on the market to include salary trends, what companies are hiring, and employer-specific 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 feel you can trust and are comfortable working with.
Employers want to fill openings quickly. You must be ready to match their level of urgency or you could miss out. Keep your resume up-to-date and be ready to present it 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.
A successful job search isn’t 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, have the courage to attend networking events and have the same conversations with strangers. Professional networkers don’t hesitate when asking, “How can I help?” If you take the same approach, you will quickly fit in and form new relationships that can pay big dividends.
Odds are, the first outreach 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.
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 will get 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 comfortable in delivering it.
If you’re being selective (as you should be!), the search process might take longer than expected. 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 be tempted to accept it just so the process can be finished. The decisions that you make as a job seeker have both short- 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 proper fit. You don’t want to start all over in six to twelve months (or sooner) because you acted hastily.
If you’re ready to make a resolution of taking the next step in your career, now is the time to start preparing. With proper planning and some hustle, you could get a new job soon after that New Year’s ball drops!
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