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This article was originally published Dec. 29, 2017.
Resolving to quit your job for New Year’s? You’re not the only one.
Eating better and getting more exercise are the go-to resolutions, but there’s also a measurable uptick in job applications around the turn of the year. People want the next year to go better and finding better employment is a great way to get there. Luckily, employers tend to do more hiring after New Year’s, too.
In the January shuffle, someone could be cleaning out a desk where you want to work as we speak. Wouldn’t it be great to walk into your new office as they walk out? This article offers six tips to help you get ready to get out there and find that job you’re resolved to snag.
You know how careful you were with your social media posts right after Grandma friended you? Yeah, that’s the right frame of mind. If Grandma would be offended, there’s probably a potential employer or two who would be as well.
Most employers look candidates up on social media as part of the interview process, so put your best face forward online. Don’t post about illegal activity, fights with your old boss, morally questionable behavior, or anything that could be taken out of context. In other words, post like you could be subpoenaed one day (which isn’t so different from trying to explain your ironic retweet to Grandma at Sunday dinner).
Update your LinkedIn
When you realize that potential employers can see your social media, you might be tempted to go dark, deleting or making private all your accounts. Resist that impulse. You want to come across as internet-savvy, in-the-know employee material, not an unknown not even on the map. So use the internet to get what you want.
This author had a roommate once who applied for an MBA program in marketing at Oxford. (Yeah, that’s different than applying for a job but the following principle still applies.) He launched a very targeted Google ad campaign to increase his chances. How targeted? Strictly the members of the admissions committee who would review his application. For a few weeks, these five or 10 people were bombarded with ads inviting them to consider my roommate for admission. It was bold. It was skillful. And it worked. A few months later he hopped on a plane for England.
We don’t all have the time or technological know-how to do that, exactly, but we can update our digital professional presence. Keep your LinkedIn and other profiles updated and accurate (see our tips on how to do that here). Start a blog/tumblr/IG/YouTube channel focused on your professional interests. Add a picture of you in business attire. Use keywords that will attract the kind of employer you’d like to work for.
Send personalized online applications
Now that you’re online and appropriate, you’re ready to start reaching out. Come up with a list of at least a dozen companies you’d love to work for. Check their job listings and apply to your desired position. Send a cover letter and résumé even if you don’t see an open position. For each application, write a different, targeted letter and resume, editing for the specific needs of that company. Doing so takes longer but quality always beats quantity and generic cover letters are a turn-off.
We just told you to submit a bunch of résumés to your favorite companies even if they’re not hiring and we don’t take it back, but this cold-calling approach obviously isn’t the most efficient way to land a job. Raise your batting average by making positive contacts. In short, you need to network.
Think about the kinds of functions and forums that are open to the public where you could introduce yourself to potential employers. That might be an alumni center, an online forum, a personal email account, or public event. Make a memorable, courteous contact. Express what you admire about their company and what your career goals are. Know how to respond quickly and specifically to the question, What kind of work are you looking for? They usually don’t want to hear that you’re open to anything. Stand out, even if it’s just by sending a thank you note afterward.
Finally, sometimes it really is about who you know. Take my humble example, dear reader: All my writing gigs came about through a friend of a friend. Let your friends and family know you’re looking for work and exactly what kind. If they know someone and can get you in the door, you’ll have the chance to let your work speak for itself.
Job interviews can be nerve-wracking and, unfortunately, there’s no magic trick to nailing one. In a lot of ways, an interview is like a blind date. In that vein, here’s a pep talk:
Sure, it’s what’s inside that counts, but you have to nail the superficial stuff first. Create the best first impression possible. Arrive early. Dress well and don’t smell weird. Be confident without being arrogant. Study the job and the company beforehand. Interviewers will ask a lot of searching questions, but they usually aren’t trying to trick you, just seeing whether you’re a good fit. You do the same. Ask questions to see if they’re a good fit for you. Finally, if it doesn’t work out, there are other fish in the corporate sea.
Job hunting takes time and there are lots of factors out of your control. But the one thing you can do is to be persistent. Stick with it for as long as it takes to find a job you love, even if you have to take/keep a less-than-ideal job in the meantime. Check job boards often. (Thousands of new jobs are posted each month on KSL Jobs.) We’re talking about resolutions here, so be resolute. Good luck and happy New Year!