If you will be among those professionals who are expecting to look for a new job this year, there are a few things we recommend you do now to get your job-search affairs in order. After all, the start of the new year is a great time to think about your goals and then make a plan for achieving them. That’s why we’ve pulled together this list of 9 easy ways to start your job search in the new year.
1. Write down your “must haves” before you start your job search
Before you start your job search, grab a pen or open a Google Doc and think about what is important to you in your next job. Do you want to work in a large organization with many levels, or in a smaller, more intimate company? Are you willing to entertain a pay cut for the right job or company? Must have health insurance or are you covered under a significant other’s policy? Is a short commute or flexible hours a must? How do you feel about temporary or temp-to-hire positions?
How you answer these questions does not mean you cannot change your mind, but having a clearer understanding will help you focus.
2. Set a time limit
Speaking of focus, it’s easy to get lost in a job search either spending all day searching job boards or, worse, not really getting down to business because so many other distractions are calling your name. Instead, set a distinct portion of your day for your “job search” time and use those hours to work on your resume, make calls or send emails, search job boards, schedule informational interviews, etc.
Some days may run longer and some may be cut short, but by carving out specific “time to work”, you will find you are much more productive.
3. Spruce up your resume
Ask someone you trust to cast a critical eye over your resume. Where can you improve the look, the layout, or the information provided? Is it up to date?
Also, it isn’t necessary to list every single job you have held since high school (unless you’re just out of high school!) but be sure to go back at least 10 years.
Don’t forget to consider how your resume will be read by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) which scan resumes for companies and only pluck out the candidates that fit the specific criteria they are looking for in relation to a particular job.
4. Ask at least two people to write you a LinkedIn recommendation
If you are starting a job search, you should have a LinkedIn profile. Potential employers will look you up there and will want to see a profile that matches what your resume lists as your experience. But don’t let it just sit out there on its own! Ask at least two people who know you through a job or organization and ask them to write a brief recommendation for your LinkedIn profile.
And if you get more than two people to write a recommendation, terrific! The more, the merrier, especially if you have people from different stages of your working life who are willing to write about your best qualities.
5. Update your headshot
While you’re at it, take a look at your LinkedIn headshot. Do you look anything like that anymore? If it’s extremely dated or maybe a blurry snapshot you uploaded in haste, replace it with something more professional and current.
6. Look behind you. . .at your Zoom background, that is
With virtual interviews still the norm in our part of the country due to Covid-19, it’s a great time to reassess your interview spot carefully. What is behind you? A bright open window may throw your image into shadows. A messy counter full of papers and dishes looks unprofessional. A blank wall may just look cell-like.
Watch a few news programs to see how the pros frame their background to look inviting yet professional. You’ll quickly get a picture of what looks best on camera.
7. Clean up your digital footprint before you start your job search
As we wrote in Is your social media ruining your chances for a great job?, most hiring managers will Google your name when you apply for a job. You should do the same to see what is out there about you. Also if you have a public Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account, look at your posts and “likes” and ask yourself if you are comfortable with a potential employer seeing these things.
There is no reason to delete accounts, but you may want to make them private if you think they could present a hurdle to receiving a job offer.
8. Network network network
Set a goal to reach out to one former colleague a week to check in with them and let them know you are searching for a job, using discretion if you are already currently employed. You may hear of opportunities that would never be listed in any traditional way.
9. Give as much as you get
If you are fortunate to have friends and colleagues who write recommendations for you, and/or take your calls and emails, and try to lend a hand in your job search, reciprocate wherever you can. Write a LinkedIn recommendation for them, unprompted. Let friends trapped in unsatisfying jobs know of an opportunity in another company. Offer to look over another’s resume and offer feedback.
While “striving for good karma” is not an official strategy when you start your job search, we do think that doing good things for others will make others want to do good things for you too. And that is a nice way to start off a new year.
Oh, and number 10? Send your resume to us so we can consider you for open positions that we receive!