The start of a new year is an ideal time to look for a new job – you're fresh with enthusiasm from making New Year's resolutions and you're ready to make changes to improve your life.
If you're in a lackluster job that just isn't doing it for you, or you're still looking for a job, seize this opportunity to focus more clearly on where you'd like to head career-wise this year and extricate yourself from the old ways.
1. Think and stay positive about your abilities and the available jobs.
While the economic times are still low, your worth shouldn't be; you're a valuable asset to any company and this is how you need to think about yourself. Whatever the doldrums in the economy, there are still jobs to be had for the right person in your field, and this year it's going to be you.
If you've been hunting around for a time, use the vibe of New Year to reinvigorate your search and to get back into the swing of searching further afield with eagerness. It is important to keep in mind that your attitude and posture will impact the way that a potential employer feels about you, so if you're not feeling positive, this will come across in the interview.
2. Look back over your previous job-hunting effectiveness for the past year.
If you've been job-hunting for a while, this may suggest that it's time to reassess your approach and to inject new strategies into your job-hunting. Even if you haven't been looking until spurred by a New Year's resolution, the following tips are a good steer:
Think about unsuccessful applications and interviews. Try to pinpoint what you did or didn't do that probably lost you the opportunity and a make a decision to remedy that part of your job-hunting.
Go through your CV. Look at how to improve it and how to represent yourself in a stronger light. What areas are you underselling yourself in? Just as some people exaggerate their values, quite a few more people make the opposite mistake of downplaying their skills and accomplishments. Think about what you have done so far and look for transferable skills and experiences that you can offer a new employer – this will help you to step out of the rut of staying within your same job type and will open up many more job possibilities. Stick to the truth, use concrete examples to back up your transferable skills and move yourself beyond your current or previous job description.
Have someone else read through your CV to pick up on mistakes and to check that it is making sense in the most concise way possible. If possible, have someone familiar with the industry you're aiming at working in read through your CV to see if it would make their radar pick up. It is important not to be defensive about needing help from other people to prepare yourself as best as possible for the job market; find people you can trust and who resonate with you and you'll receive invaluable guidance.
3. Consider whether you need to brush up your professional or technical skills.
This might be a great time of year to enroll in courses that build on or extend your existing knowledge, as a way to improve your job prospects. If you're already working, look for courses offered within your organization. If not, there are many opportunities offered through public colleges, night classes, and other courses that can boost your existing skills, whether or not you have college degrees. Sometimes it's the smaller but more specific skills that can set you apart from the other equally qualified people seeking the same job, and if having an up-to-date first aid certificate or computing skill can boost your chances, then give the course some consideration.
4. Start looking for suitable positions.
The broader your potential job pool, the better chances you'll have at finding a new job this new year. Don't be shy at selecting as many relevant jobs as possible that match your skill set and are realistically doable for you.
Think beyond where you live. While this might be a scary thought initially, if you are prepared to relocate from where you currently live, you widen the potential job pool even more, especially if you're prepared to move to a place that is a hub for the skills you've got. Even overseas might prove a promising option if you're keen and able to move this far.
Take great care with your cover letter. One-size-fits-all cover letters are the least likely to get you the job; personalize the cover letter to the job in question every single time. Make sure the cover letter is addressed to the person who will be reading it, clearly point out how you meet the requirements outlined in the job description and keep it short (about 3 to 4 paragraphs).
5. Prepare well for interviews.
Common interview mistakes include dressing down, not knowing much (or anything!) about the place you'd like to work for, and poor interview mannerisms. If you have problems with interviews, it is possible to get coaching but if that's not an affordable option, at least read as much as possible about interview techniques, and even better, have a friend or family member role play interview situations with your, using a range of normal to tricky questions. This will help to build your confidence, as well as getting you habituated to being interviewed and answering questions quickly but well.
Anticipate the key questions such as telling the interviewer your strengths and weaknesses, what you bring to the job, what interests you about the company and position, your willingness to work extra hours/travel/relocate, the ways in which your previous experience is relevant, and being asked if you have any questions. For some industries and jobs, it is also important to have a realistic but fair idea of what salary you believe is appropriate.
6. Be patient.
While this is your New Year's resolution, changing or getting a new job can take time and much of the year may pass before you find a new job. Provided you're expecting it to take time, you're less likely to fret and more likely to persist, which is important in ensuring that you don't lose sight of what you really want from your resolution to get a new job.
Plan a timeline. While you're still feeling enthusiastic and full of renewed vigor about the New Year, making a plan for the coming year's job search is useful because it can determine your goals for job-hunting this year and it will serve as a reminder of where you're headed should you find yourself feeling off course later during the year.