As the end of the year is fast approaching, have you begun thinking about new year resolutions and goals to achieve? Have you also been thinking about taking on new career challenges in 2019? Whether you’re satisfied with your current role, have your eye on a promotion, or want to change your job situation entirely, this information is for you. To help you make a smooth and successful transition, I have outlined four important steps for you to use as a starting point for achieving success in the new year.
Step 1: Update and manage your necessary job search documents.
Even if you’re not actively targeting a specific new job, it is essential to keep your résumé and professional reference list current; new opportunities may present themself to you when you least expect it, or tomorrow may just be the day you wake up and decide with certainty you need a change. Either way, you don’t want to find yourself in a position where you don’t have your tools at the ready, and you are chasing down assistance to make it happen in a rush. Be proactive. Be ready.
Determining the best way to structure your résumé may be difficult if you haven’t made changes to it in a while. Should you use a chronological, functional, combination, or target format? What is the best method of communicating your brand and unique value proposition? Which keywords do you need and why do you need them anyway? How far back in your job history should you go? There is a lot that goes into crafting a powerful and story-driven résumé, which is often why people tend to put it off. If you’re not sure how to make the most of this important document, consider engaging a professional résumé writer to help you negotiate the art of effectively telling your career story as well as showcasing your career accomplishments and your promise of value to future employers.
Professional Reference List
Identify individuals in your professional circle – past and present – managers, subordinates, business partners, and co-workers: individuals who are guaranteed to speak well of you and of your past work together if questioned by a employer. Ideally, you want your references to support and enhance the story told by your résumé, so choose individuals that can effectively speak to your diverse work experience to provide a rich and comprehensive picture of your accomplishments and your value to a potential employer. Once you’ve chosen your list (4-5 professional references), ALWAYS reach out to them personally and ask them if they would be willing to speak on your behalf to a potential employer.
A quick note here about cover letters….
You will need one when the time comes to submit your application for a job you want once you start actively applying. Until that time, you can hold off on creating a cover letter until you are sure what the job title is and what the specific qualifications are for the position. Start thinking about it now though as a future “to do.”
Step 2: Enhance and utilize your network
When was the last time you attended a networking event? Schedule them just like doctor appointments or time at the gym. Make it a priority to attend these meals, cocktail happy hours, and informal meet-ups of other professionals in your industry.
While networking may be the most challenging job search avenue—after all, it requires you to purposefully seek out and proactively speak to others—it is widely accepted as the most effective way to land your next job. Some experts say that 70% of people ended up in their current position thanks to networking, while others estimate it’s more like 80% or even 85%.
The time to network is now. Now because networking lays the foundation for establishing meaningful connections with people that can assist you in the job search process. Think beyond recruiters; think about networking with people that work at the names of companies you would like to work for or in your industry that can be helpful in advancing your personal development. This time of the year is great for corporate and organizational get-togethers! Make the most of your time and decide to attend these events before the season gets away from you.
Networking can also be done 1-1: taking a business associate or former vendor partner to lunch to discuss how you can mutually assist in opening professional doors for each other. A combination approach is best: cast a wider net while nurturing time for the deeper talks.
Step 3: Create a social media presence that communicates your value.
LinkedIn is a crucial social media platform for professional networking, career development, and industry knowledge. If you don’t have a profile, you need one, and you need to ensure that it complements your résumé.
Creating an Effective LinkedIn Profile
An effective profile tells the reader about you and your value in a relaxed, but still professional, manner. You should complete every section—Summary, Education, Experience, etc.—and include a professional profile picture and background picture. It is important that you don’t leave anything blank; on LinkedIn, readers may view an incomplete profile as lazy. Make sure to optimize your profile to make the most of keyword searches for potential opportunities that fit your experience and qualifications. In terms of strategy, think about it this way: Your résumé is where you were, and your LinkedIn profile is where you’re going, so don’t hide behind your dislike for social media or technology and get on there and get out there.
Making Connections On LinkedIn
Begin inviting people you know and people you want to know into your network. However, your connections are only as valuable as you make them: share and comment on articles of interest from your industry and provide your connections with some insight into your unique perspectives on issues important in your field. Remember, your LinkedIn presence isn’t all about you: like, comment, and share articles and information posted by your connections. LinkedIn is about making connections–not just the total of your connections, but really connecting with people, and showing appreciation for the thoughts and contributions of others help to establish and nurture those relationships.
Add your LinkedIn time to your schedule just like your other important personal and professional matters. Set a goal of engaging on LinkedIn 3-4 times per week, 15-20 minutes each time. If you are actively engaged in a job search, kick it up to 5-7.
Step 4: Identify your career goals for the new year.
Identify your goals and take the time to write them down. The old adage is true: failing to plan is planning to fail. While determining a new career path is a process that takes introspection, a systematic approach to goal identification, and purposeful planning, a great place to start is to consider these initial questions:
- What position would you like to aim for?
- What company/ies do you want to target?
- What is your timeframe to land a new role?
It is difficult to begin a journey to a new career without taking the time to decide what is important to you both in terms of job satisfaction as well as long-term career growth, so take the time now to invest in the payoff down the road. The new year is on its way, bringing with it new opportunities to succeed, learn, and grow.
Begin the steps now to ensure success in the new year.
Want to learn more, or need help shaping your 2019 career plan? Schedule a free 15-minute consultation with me and let’s see how I can assist you.. As a Certified Professional Career Coach and Certified Professional Résumé Writer, I provide a wide variety of services that will give you an edge at any point in your job search.