If landing a new job is one of your New Year’s goals, these tips will help you make your career goals a reality. Now is the time to take action given its been proven that in January and February, there is usually an hiring peak right after the Christmas and New year holidays as companies and teams get going again after the holidays with new budgets and projects for the new year.
The first week of January usually starts slowly as people come back from Christmas holidays but by the second week of the month, things are back to normal. Once that happens, hiring pick up pretty fast and lots of interviews start to happen. This is the time of year when the greatest number of decision-makers and senior management are in the office at the same time, so you are more likely to get a “Yes” much faster and start that new job you want. Another reason January and February are good months to actively do your job search and application is because most companies usually get their new hiring budgets for the year in January, and a lot of the hiring activity that was delayed in November and December can now progress. So they’ll have a backlog of jobs that need to be filled, and you can come in and fill it.
Whether an old boss refers you for a suitable job or you find a job opportunity on a company website you have been stalking for several months or you get head hunted by a recruiter on LinkedIn, when an opportunity arises, employers will be motivated to fill it quickly in the new year. If you’re not ready to match their urgency, you could miss out. Make sure your CV is up-to-date and ready to be presented with confidence. If you’re prepared and eager, you might be one of the first few to land the new year career opportunities.
Are you sick and tired of searching for a job with no results? If you want to stand out from the crowd, you will have to put in some more effort and try a different approach.
Insanity is when you continue to do the same thing over and over and expect to get a different result.
Whilst this isn’t an exhaustive list, here are my 5 TOP TIPS that would help you in your job search this year:
Perform a Self Evaluation
Ask yourself if what you’re doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow
Before you start applying and interviewing, take an honest self-assessment of where you are at in terms of your skills, knowledge and experience, your strengths and weakness and what is most important to you in terms of your career aspirations. What sort of role are you interested in? What roles are you qualified for? This self assessment is so important for most corporate or specialist roles. If you’re a parent for example, is having a work-life balance important to you in your new career aspirations? Take time to figure out what matters most to you in your next job. Try to do this on your own, with your husband/wife, with a more experienced friend who you trust, and/or a career coach. Once you’ve done a self-evaluation, read some job descriptions of roles and positions you would be interested with the aim to identify your strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvements. Learn everything you can about the role you’re interested in. Read books, whitepapers and blogs. Attend relevant webinars, seminars and conferences. Speak to people in and around the profession. If you find out that you need to improve your knowledge substantially in some identified areas, choose training that focuses on the key competencies for the role you want to get and will ensure that your investment won’t be wasted.
I have created a free, simple and easy-to-use Goals setting template, you can use it throughout the year for small, medium or even big sized goals such as career, training, fitness, diet, finance, volunteering etc. Feel free to download it here for FREE.
Tailor your CV and cover letter
When it comes to CVs, one size doesn’t fit all
Everything that you include in your CV and cover letter must be completely tailored to the company and role that you’re applying for otherwise your job application may get overlooked. Create a strong CV and don’t be afraid to remove irrelevant experiences. An error-free CV is vital in showcasing your precision and attention to detail, so check everything – even your contact details. This will make it easy for recruiters to see that you’re the perfect candidate. Otherwise, it may not get picked up by the applicant tracking systems companies use to screen resumes or the recruiter who reviews it. Recruiters on average 8 seconds looking at any one CV, and a sure-fire way of landing yourself on the NO pile is to send them your entire life story. Your CV should usually be no more than 2 pages. You only have a few minutes maximum to impress a hiring manager enough to select you for an interview. I personally know a few HR managers who screen job applications, and they always say if you don’t show what value and expertise you intend to bring for the company in the first paragraph of your cover letter, you’re likely not going to get an interview.
Below is an example of a draft cover letter I wrote for a Lead Business Analyst role:
If you need help with reviewing your CV, I now offer CV clinics for a fee plus if you’re interested in getting into Project Management or Business Analysis, I can be your career mentor- drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t apply for every single job
Most companies are looking for specialists, not generalists
Applying for every single job you find on Total jobs, Monster, Reed or Jobserve isn’t always a good idea. Focus your search on jobs that you’re interested in, that you are qualified for or intend to qualify for. You’ll have a better chance of getting selected for an interview. Sending out random CV and cover letters to every job posting is just going to be a waste of time. Even better, come up with a target list of companies you would like to work for and do your best to get on their radar. Most companies also are looking to hire those with hands-on, been-there-done-that experience that can be productive and add value from day one.
“I follow up as many times as necessary until I get a response. I don’t care what the response is as long as I get one” Steli Efti, Founder & CEO Close.io
Make sure you and your recruiter are on the same page with your career aspirations and job search goals. The new year is usually a perfect time to check in, say hello, and let them know what you’re up to. That way, when the right opportunity comes across, your name will top on their mind. If you’re working with a good recruiter, you should be able to ask them for some intelligence on the market, recent salary trends, which companies are hiring, and how to best start preparing for the upcoming interview process. If you don’t have a recruiter make that one of your resolutions for the new year. Ask your professional network (ex-colleagues, former bosses, university alumni) for recommendations, and don’t commit until you’ve found one that can be effective and who you can trust to have your best interests in mind. It would be wonderful if every recruiter or HR executive followed-up in a timely manner. But the reality is, they don’t. It isn’t always their fault. The best you can do is persistently follow-up to find out if there know of any opportunities or where they are in the process and if they need any more information from you. Double check their time line, and remind them you will reach out if you don’t hear.
“Job searching is like a Pinata, if you hit it hard enough, you will be rewarded”
Its not enough to just have a LinkedIn profile, be sure your LinkedIn profile is robust enough. The most common thing recruiters and hiring mangers do after reading your CV is check your LinkedIn page, so it’s crucial that your LinkedIn profile demonstrates all the positive attributes you’ve expressed in your CV, while also telling a story that compels a prospective employer to reach out. Use a professional photo, make sure the employment section is up-to-date and complete, highlights what you’ve accomplished in your career, and shows what you are passionate. Use a professional picture and a well-crafted bio that encapsulates your professional self, all in a condensed manner. You regularly should add to your list of connections, and ask for recommendations from colleagues and former managers. Remember, your LinkedIn page is part of an online database being searched by thousands of recruiters in your job sector on a daily basis, so make sure it includes the appropriate keywords and search terms that correlate with the types of jobs you want to hear about. Be findable! At the very least your LinkedIn Bio should including a wording to reflect that you’re currently seeking new opportunities, this will make recruiter find you more easily.
“Be so good they cant ignore you”
Networking is an essential component of successful job hunting. Most jobs are still found through networking, whether it’s online or in-person. Its a known fact that fewer than 20 percent of jobs are filled through job sites. Majority of job hires are still filled through employee referrals. You never know who can help you find your next job unless you tell your connections that you’re job seeking. Check LinkedIn to see who you know, you might be able to get a referral for a job you want to apply for. Grow your professional network. Try targeting companies who have previously posted jobs on the job sites you use or companies you know you would like to work for and begin building your LinkedIn network to include employees that work in these companies. This is why you need to connect with people who work inside the companies you want to work. You might need them for a referral or one of them might know a hiring manger. Learn how to use the advanced search functionality to find inside connections, tap into alumni and even previous employees.
Here are some additional tips:
- Don’t put anything on your CV you wont be in a position to defend at an interview, there is nothing worst like being asked several questions that you’re unable to answer.
- It’s easy to make generic, empty statements on your CV when you’re trying to meet a tight application deadline. However, failing to effectively evidence your skills, achievements and experiences can lead to needless rejections.
- Role relevant keywords and buzzwords are very important as they will help a search engine pick out your CV from the pile.
- Occasional job search here and there wouldn’t get you anywhere unless you make it a priority and turn your words into actions. Job search can be a full time job for most specialist roles!
- Finally, keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities everywhere. New job opportunities do come in the least expected places.
Remember that nothing worthwhile comes easy and quick. Most likely your first sets of job applications with your new-and-improved CV isn’t going to be the one that leads to your next great opportunity but never give up. You would get so many rejections but if you don’t keep trying, there’s no opportunity to succeed. A successful job search especially if you’ve been out of job for a while in most cases can’t be accomplished alone. At some point whether it’s asking your former boss to be a reference or seeking the help of a CV mentor or interview coach, you might need to get help and support during this daunting process. If you feel stuck and unsure you should reach out and ask for help. The earlier you start asking for help the better.
Here is a testimonial from one of the candidates I helped to revamp her HR CV just before Christmas, she has just secured and started a HR role at a Swiss bank on 2nd January:
I appreciate your help, support and guidance during my job searching period. Your help with my CV and your job application tips has helped me secure a new role at a Swiss Bank in London.
If you need help with reviewing your CV or know anyone that needs help, I now offer CV clinics for a fee plus if you’re interested in getting into Project Management or Business Analysis, I have a very limited bandwidth to career mentor for these roles- drop me an email on email@example.com.