Early January is a great time to begin or even re-launch your job search. Once employers get past the holiday break and year-end tasks, the 2012 budgets have been finalized and employers are getting ready to ramp up their recruiting efforts.
If you have just started looking for a new job or feel like your job search has stalled this is a great time to develop a job searching strategy and begin fresh in the new year. Trying to find a new job can feel overwhelming and many times candidates put it off since they do not know where to start.
Below are some tips to help get you started:
- Job search strategy– Get out the pen & paper! Write down the top 5 things that are important to you in your next job: particular industry, do you need flexibility, more money, career advancement, etc.?
- Company target list– Which best match with your needs and goals? For instance, if flexibility is an important factor then look for companies that have been recognized for providing work/life balance. A good place to start are sites like Glassdoor, where you can see companies salaries, reviews and interviews which are all posted anonymously by employees. They publish a 2011 Top 25 Companies for Work-Life Balance.
- Research contacts at those companies– Don’t blindly email your resume – chances of it actually being looked at are slim. The key is having a very targeted and/or personalized approach when sending in your resume. First, look at your LinkedIn connections- do you have contacts that currently work or have worked at the company? If so, reach out to them to see if they wouldn’t mind submitting your resume on your behalf. Many times companies offer bonuses for employee referrals, so your contacts will most likely be happy to submit your resume! No LinkedIn connections? Search on LinkedIn and find a name of the person who is in charge of hiring and send your resume with a personalized cover letter directly to them.
- Cover letters– Here is where you can make your mark. Do a little research on the company or the person who are sending the resume to. In the first paragraph mention something about the hiring manager or the company that will show them you went the extra mile to educate yourself and to personalize the letter. If you have any employment gaps in your resume, a cover letter gives you an opportunity to explain the reasons for the gaps. But remember- keep it short and sweet, do not go into too many personal details. More cover letter tips including samples letter can be found here.
- Create a few versions of your resume– You want to highlight your skills that are specific to the job for which you are applying. For example, if you are an marketing and public relations professional- create one resume that highlights more of your marketing experience and another one that highlights your public relations experience. This will help the person who is reviewing your resume see that you have the experience they are looking for.
- Brush up on skills– If you have been out of the workforce for a while it is a good idea to keep your skills sharp. Consider taking a computer class or if you are a college graduate be sure to contact the career services at your college- many offer lifetime career development services for alumni. Also, the Department of Labor offers workshops for resume writing, interviewing skills and general job searching information.
- Network– Let everyone you know (friends, family, former colleagues and consider joining job searching networking groups) that you are looking for a job. Many jobs openings are not advertised, so the more people who know you are looking you increase your chances of learning about those unadvertised jobs. Check out Job-hunt.org to find local networking and job search support.
- Job search diary– It is a good idea to control your job search and know where you and/or recruiters are sending your resume. Employers do not want to receive your resume multiple times and from multiple resources.
Be consistent with your job search. Looking for a new job takes a lot of time, effort and energy. Continue your job search every day. Don’t miss out on a great opportunity!