Once the ball drops and the confetti has been swept away, many people consider the start of a New Year as an invitation to give every aspect of their life a critical eye. From a long-term relationship that should have ended seasons ago to accepting the undeniable number on the scale, January 1 not only presents a sense of fresh, but an opportunity to transform whatever is not quite right. If your current pain point is your career — whether you’re in an unfulfilling gig, you’re not compensated for your value or you’re ready for the next step — beginning the job search in January is a smart move.
As career expert Jill Tipograph explains, throughout the year there are lulls in the speed at which recruiting and selection decisions occur. “Hiring teams thin out during the holidays, key managers take time off at the end of August, and then during the mid-November to end of December high travel weeks,” she explains. “After everyone returns from the end of year holiday season, it’s back to business. Organizations will often make announcements regarding new leadership in key roles, announce recently promoted colleagues and unveil new organizational structures.”
But instead of brushing up your resume and reaching out to contacts starting in January, it’s actually far more strategic to cue up all of your ducks now to be in the best position to apply once the year begins. Even though the last quarter is typically a stressful, congested time, experts remind job seekers there is plenty of homework required to put your best foot forward. Here, ideas to prepare yourself for the endless flood of applications coming your way … sooner than you think.
Update your resume and LinkedIn profile
You scroll through Facebook and Instagram a few dozen times a day, but how much of your attention span is allocated to the social media networking app dedicated to your career? Likely, barely a fraction of your free time. Career and branding expert Wendi Weiner says this is a mistake, considering more than 94 percent of recruiters are sourcing out potential job candidates on LinkedIn.
“You must have an optimized LinkedIn profile in order to have a successful job search in the digital age. LinkedIn is the number one source for creating a powerful digital footprint that effectively brands you for your expertise in your respective industry,” she continues.
Once you have updated your profile to brag about your progress, advancements, and achievements, make sure you have the resume to match it. After all, once your digital record is impressive, the leads will start rolling in, and you don’t want to waste any time sending over your resume when it is requested. Remember: It is always recommended to ask a few trusted wordsmiths to look over your resume to omit any typos, grammar mistakes or confusing sentences. If you don’t have a pal like this on your roster, invest in a resume editor to give it the eagle eyes.
“Keep your resume focused on results and achievements and less focused on job responsibilities,” Weiner adds.
Enlist a buddy to keep you accountable
Much like losing weight, maintaining a fitness routine or resisting bread, having a buddy to ensure you’re honest can be an impactful tactic when you’re job searching. As career expert Joy Altimare recommends, find someone who perhaps is also unhappy with their current set-up and create a tag-team approach to applying. They can send you openings that fit your interests, look over your resume and regularly check in to make sure you’re pacing toward your goals.
Take a quick glance at all of the skills you claim on your resume. While, sure, at some point, you could execute each of these reasonably-well, now that you’ve been in the same job for a while, there are likely some lingering proficiencies that could use a touch-up. Tipograph recommends not only addressing hard skills, but the soft ones, too: has a difficult manager impacted your confidence? Are you anxious about leading meetings? Now is the time to practice, refresh — and repeat.
“Get ahead of their needs so you can present yourself as having these,” she shares. One way of doing this is taking a look at job openings so you can see exactly what your potential new employer is looking for. And ignite your network, who may have insider info in these areas specific to various industries or corporations, Tipograph says.
And hey, since the weather outside is becoming increasingly more frightful, she recommends taking online or continuing education or boot camps to up your skills in targeted areas, or certifications in some can demonstrate mastery to prospective employers.
If this isn’t your first rodeo in applying for jobs or you’re in no rush to leave unless it is the right opening, Weiner recommends dreaming a bit. How so? Consider the companies whose mission statement, culture and structure best matches your passions and interests. Then, research for not only lingering gigs you could apply for, but holes within their team you could pitch and fulfill.
“Make sure you have a targeted list of companies you are interested in applying to. Create a spreadsheet that focuses on these target companies, target key players at these companies, and begin to keep track of when you reach out to them,” she suggests.
Plan out your interview wardrobe
Midway through January, you finally get a call a job that excites you. Your resume is polished, your interview questions are practiced and seamless… but you have nothing to wear. Dressing for your first meeting with a promising team can be a stressful decision that can potentially distract you from prepping effectively and efficiently. Take advantage of holiday specials and stock up on clothes that make you feel your best.
“Start looking for a black or dark grey suit that would be a staple for your closet. There are lots of good sales happening around Veteran’s Day and Black Friday. Take up the opportunity to plan out the interviewing wardrobe, and potential new work clothes,” she explains.
Review your PTO and benefits
When you’re ready to make moves, you should also be prepared to bargain for a better deal than you’re currently earning at your current job. And no, we don’t just mean your salary, but your paid time off, your benefits, your past reviews and more. Weiner explains since some employers allow you to cash out any leftover PTO, you can use that to your advantage when you give your resignation.
If you’re the sole provider of your individual insurance or your family’s, understanding when your plan will end as you prepare to switch gigs will make sure you’re in the best health situation. Studying up on this information also makes it easier to ask for more vacation days and better insurance when you receive an offer letter.
Set up coffee meetings
Now is the time to put feelers out to your ideal list of startups or full-fledged companies to join. As Tipograph says, it can take several months to finally get in front of someone, so it is never too early to start the process.
“Ensure you are flexible in your approach when asking for time to connect and discuss options. Be available when they are to follow up and if they can’t follow up with you, ask if they know of others who it would make sense for you to get to know,” she explains.
And though you might receive a few brush-offs before you finally earn an invitation, but hold steady. “When someone says, in November, ‘We don’t have anything right now,’ do not lose faith. Your efforts are essentially planting seeds for things that can arise in the New Year,” Tipograph says.