The Recruiters’ Advice for New Year’s Resolutions 2014
According to published reports, the most popular New Year’s resolutions are losing weight, paying off debt, saving money and getting a better job. With the economic uncertainty that plagued the past few years, many people might not think that finding new employment should be a 2014 priority. However, no matter the market conditions, there are always companies looking to hire talented professionals, and those people who are prepared will be in the best position to take advantage of new career opportunities as they are uncovered. Here are some insider tips from top WinterWyman recruiters on finding the employment you want in the New Year:
1. Make like "Auld Lang Syne" and don't let those old acquaintances be forgotten! Make it one of your resolutions to reconnect with former coworkers and managers that you may have lost touch with - LinkedIn is a great place to start. You never know who might be able to connect you to the right opportunity and who might be a great reference.
2. Are you tech savvy like a Millennial? - OK, maybe you don’t have all the latest apps, but are you up to speed with the crucial technology-based job searching sites and techniques? Many recruiters feel LinkedIn profiles are now more important than resumes. Anyone who is job searching MUST have a LinkedIn profile and it should be professional AND personalized – have a photo, join your industry’s groups, have meaningful connections, make sure that you are continually asking for and providing recommendations. Do you know how to use Twitter to find a job? In certain industries, Twitter can be key in using your network to find a job. How? Write a perfect job-search tweet that has the keywords and hashtags to automatically find people and audiences interested in your area of expertise; it also includes the industry, your skills, and accomplishments and what you are looking for. It’s not always easy in 140 characters or less, but definitely possible and for the right job, worthwhile.
3. Be ready to move. Like with all of life’s opportunities, you have to be ready to strike when the iron is hot – and sometimes even when it’s heating up! So, no matter if your job search plan includes pounding the pavement for a new job or sitting back and waiting for something to come your way, make sure you have all the foundational pieces in place for a successful job search. Update your resume, prepare a compelling story to tell why you would consider a new opportunity and know who you would use for references. Start becoming mentally and emotionally ready for a change so you are better prepared when it happens.
4. Don’t pretend everything is OK. In soft economies, many people think it’s safer to stay with their current employer than to risk taking a job with a new company – and often it is. But don’t keep your head down, nose to the grindstone and hope you survive whatever happens at your company. Even in the best of times, companies routinely are merged, acquired, imploded, and overtaken, sometimes leaving hundreds and thousands of people looking for new jobs. Be prudent and always be aware of your company’s condition; keep your nose in the wind and your eyes and ears open for when it is the best time to move on.
5. Know yourself, and find a company that suits who you are. As people age and lives and goals change, so do our career objectives. Spend some time figuring out what really makes you happy. Is it being an authority at work? Having a schedule flexible enough to see your kids play soccer on a mid-week afternoon? Knowing the drug you are researching will someday eradicate a life-threatening disease? Have a heart-to-heart with yourself about what you want from your career and what steps would be necessary to achieve this goal. Have realistic expectations, but know that most career dreams are withinour reach.
6. Step out of your comfort zone. As human beings, we don’t like to admit that we don’t have all the answers and it’s uncomfortable for most people to ask for help, especially from those outside your inner circle. Asking for assistance and advice is the heart of networking and the single most important thing a person looking for a new job should do. Your next opportunity could come via a tip or chance encounter with a former boss, colleague, neighbor, recruiter, barber, golf buddy…but you will never hear about it if they don’t know you are looking, even passively. You need to be courageous enough to talk to people you meet about what you ultimately want instead of regretting that you didn’t mention it sooner.
7. Make it an effort to job search. Succeeding at anything takes practice and hard work. If you are trying to further your career, you need to devote energy to make that change, and that takes time. Find a way to carve out the hours, whether it’s giving up an hour of gym time on Tuesday nights to attend networking meetings, or getting up early on Sunday mornings to search for leads and contacts online, establish some goals and set aside the time it will take to accomplish them.
8. Focus your resume. Most resumes are very vanilla – overview, titles, tasks, accomplishments and education. But companies want to see the sizzle AND the steak. They want to see progression in experience, skills and responsibility and how you have contributed directly to your employer’s, or former employer’s, success. Make sure your document includes enough substance to explain the strategies and tactics you were responsible for, but also the intangibles where you made a difference. It doesn’t have to be overly long or detailed, but back up any success claims with real facts and examples.
9. Take stock. Is your resume up to date? Have you completed new projects over the year that you should add? Does your resume speak to the career path you want to take? Are there courses or training that you need to complete to get the type of job you want next? The New Year is a great time to make sure you are in the best position in the event the right job comes up.
10. Join a group and expand your network. There isn’t a profession or industry on earth that doesn’t have a trade association, user group, online discussion board or fan club. Find one relevant to you and join it. Whether you are currently employed or not, opportunities flow from being around like-minded people and professional associations and communities are where you need to be. They are a great way for uncovering hidden jobs, to further your knowledge and to make new relationships. Investigate which are appropriate for you and join in!
11. If you don’t sell yourself, who will? Unless you are a pompous, arrogant bore, you are probably not used to – and may be uncomfortable with – talking immodestly about yourself, your attributes and shining moments. Get over it! Advancing in your career or finding a new job requires you to balance humility with bravado. Your resume or a relationship may open a door, but you have to be prepared to march through it with a lot of confidence and a bit of swagger. Find a way to get over any discomfort when talking about yourself and how wonderful you are. The best job candidate is one who truly believes he or she has something unique to offer and can articulate their message with words, body language and confidence. A hiring manager wants to fall in love with you, give them a reason to.
12. Narrow your thinking. Don’t try to be all things to all people, especially when looking for a job. You are not going to be good at everything you do, so don’t fool yourself into thinking you are. Figure out what you want to do and where you want to do it – and narrow your search to opportunities that fit into your realm. Don’t have interviews or networking meetings where you hope the other person can help you figure out what you want to do. The responsibility is yours; be targeted and specific about the jobs you want, skills you have and the companies you want to work for.
13. Get off your couch potato butt! Self-assessment is important but can be paralyzing. Take the time necessary to be introspective and then craft your plan, but don’t let those activities stall you from taking action. Talk is cheap – get out there and take the steps to change or improve your career. Being proactive in your career will open up opportunities you never dreamed of and will start 2014 off right!
14. Give contracting a try. Many companies are filling in holes in their staffing structures by bringing on temporary employees. If you are out of work, consider a contract option. Not only will temp work keep your skills sharp, it can give you a chance to learn about the company, an industry or even a new position. It can also be your chance to show off your talents and expertise to a potential employer, which could lead to a new reference or even a job with that company.