Get your job search ready for the New Year

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When most people think of the pending New Year, typical resolutions spring to mind: exercise more, eat right, and – of course – get serious about their job search.  However, while many people know they want to get something new, deciding what to do first for the job hunt is not always apparent.

Try this checklist to get your job search into full swing…

  1. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile

Even if you updated your resume as recently as six months ago, take another critical look at it.  Did you get the results you wanted?  Are you pulling in key words that are relevant for your industry today, or are you using outdate terms?  Have you summarized the older, less pertinent work history to highlight your more recent accomplishments better?  Don’t forget about the format and look of the resume itself.  An outdated format can not only look boring to the reader, but may actually make an online application system choke if it’s built exclusively with tables, text boxes, or graphics.

As for your LinkedIn profile, many of these same rules apply.  However, it also needs to be dynamic, engaging, personable, and informative.  LinkedIn allows us to include more information than just the resume alone.  That’s one of the reasons why employers will automatically look at an applicant’s LinkedIn profile before contacting him or her for an interview.  Plus, recruiters search for passive candidates on LinkedIn. You want to make sure that you are layering in the right key words to attract their attention.

  1. Set up your job search agents or saved searches

January is known as being a boom time for new job postings online.  Make sure that you have a saved search for your target jobs on the major employment sites, including LinkedIn, Indeed, CareerBuilder, Monster, and so on.  Remember to include sites specific to your industry, such as Dice for IT positions and EstateJobs for private service.

Big tip: don’t set up every job board to send you a notification every single day.  You want to rotate these, so that you don’t end up seeing the same job over and over.  This creates “perceived scarcity” in your mind; in other words, after days of viewing the same positions, the brain rebels and cries “I don’t know why I’m doing this!  There’s never anything new!”  If you set up your email notices on a rotation, such as Indeed on Monday, CareerBuilder on Tuesday, LinkedIn on Wednesday, and so on, you overcome the perceived scarcity as you continually see new information.

  1. Plan on networking

Yes, networking is still a main tool of job searching.  This includes online resources, such as LinkedIn, and the live, face-to-face meeting with people.  If you aren’t sure of where to meet others in your field, start with professional associations, Meetup groups based on your industry, alumni groups through your college, and LinkedIn Groups based on your interest.

NOTE: LinkedIn is changing the way Groups behave!  Where it used to be relatively easy to join Groups, you now have to be invited by an existing Group member.  If you want to see more of the upcoming 2016 LinkedIn changes, please join my free webinar, “LinkedIn Updates for 2016:”

  1. Research your market

One of the best things you can do for your search is get familiar with your local market.  This means not only learning the names of companies, but determining what industries are growing, which are declining, and what is the next to emerge on the scene.  Local business magazines, the Chambers of Commerce, the Office of Economic Development, and the Department of Labor can be great resources in these areas.

For example, the IT / Tech industry in the Denver and Boulder market has been heating up considerably in the past 6 months.  Recruiters are actively sourcing candidates and are still struggling to fill the positions.  However, the Oil & Gas industry, a longtime staple in the Colorado market, has been struggling for over a year.  Yet, every week our company receives calls from people wanting to break into Oil & Gas.  While it’s not impossible, it’s exceeding difficult for newcomers, just based on the economic health of the industry right now.  For these career changers, they may want to research other options that will capitalize on their transferrable skills.

  1. Become solutions-oriented

The traditional job search starts with applying to a job online and waiting for HR to call to set up the interview.  However, the modern job search often requires the creativity to think outside the box and the courage to implement the plan.

While HR doesn’t want to receive your calls or emails, there is nothing in the rules against reaching out to key managers at your target companies.  Of course, it must be done the right way, but start with accepting the fact that managers can be just as frustrated with the hiring process as you are.  Even if the company has a policy against the managers receiving resumes, the worst that will happen is that your resume will be sent to HR – which is where you have already applied.

Look for solutions to the job search, as well as offering solutions to the employers.  In the end, this is what they really need. Someone who can take them to the next level through determination, drive, and that legendary can-do attitude.

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