We love the holidays, don’t we? The food, the social events and of course, the vacations make us feel warm and fuzzy months in advance. Many think the holidays are a time to relax and say, “No one is hiring right now anyway. Everyone is on vacation, so why bother?” But with only a handful of days left in 2017, now is the time to kick your job search strategy into high gear. After all, hiring managers and recruiters aren’t just staying at home drinking eggnog for all of December — they still have positions to fill!
Here are 3 things you can do heading into 2018 to stay ahead of the curve.
1. Review the Year
Step one: you need to know where you’ve been before you know where you’re going. Dreams change. Ask yourself, “Do I still want to be in this industry? In what capacity? Are my talents being utilized here, or do I want to move on?” From there, make a list of the things you require in your career. All of these questions will give you a clear direction on how to move forward and a way to determine your approach.
Sometimes, I compare preparing for a job search to doing taxes. The same way you’d gather receipts, paycheck stubs and paperwork, you need to gather the information that will impact your personal brand. Review the year and write down information such as important project dates, budgets, or titles, as well as how you made an impact. Did you increase revenue, decrease overhead, train a team, plan an event, etc.?
Whether you decide to enlist the help of a professional resume writer or go it alone, all of this information is necessary to frame your expertise appropriately. Now that you have this information, look around to see what positions are available at your target companies and beyond. This is a great way to compare your list of accomplishments with the job descriptions. Do your qualifications measure up?
2. Increase Your Networking Opportunities
Every job seeker should have a list of target companies in their industry. This allows your job search to be focused and streamlined. Next, do some research to see if these companies are planning or sponsoring events, and whether you can attend. Whether it’s a black tie gala or a charity toy drive, these events are a great opportunity to make connections. Not only will you be able to network in person, but you can use your attendance as an opening in cold calls and emails. For example:
“Good morning, Theresa,
I hope this message finds you well. My name is Niya Allen-Vatel, and I am a professional resume writer and career coach in the New York City area. On __________, I was inspired by the keynote speech you gave at the 63rd annual ABC Corporation charity event. To me, it was a rallying cry rather than a speech. I would love to connect with you to discuss _____________ and ask you a few questions regarding the nuggets of wisdom you so graciously shared that night. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to connecting in the future.”
Whether you meet the contact in-person or send them an email afterward, being at these events will allow you to gain ground over someone who sends a generic cover letter because you’ve learned about the company from the inside out. Also, touch base with people you’ve lost touch with this year. Sending a holiday greeting can help you reconnect and reopen doors you thought were closed. If they weren’t thinking about you before, they will be now. And finally, if networking in person is too intimidating, go the virtual route first.
3. Get the Help You Need
If the idea of revamping your personal brand and making a career transition is too overwhelming and confusing, this may be the time to enlist help to guide you through the process. This goes back to the age-old question of, “How bad do you want it?” You may have to forego gift shopping or a fabulous trip to make it work, but what’s the alternative? Repeating the same year over again?
When deciding to enlist help, do your research. Make sure the career consultant is qualified and has the right credentials and experience to address your specific career needs and industry. To start, review the directories of The National Resume Writers’ Association, Career Directors International, The Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches and LinkedIn. With these resources, you can review websites and samples and speak to professionals before making a decision. Also, keep in mind that career expenses may be tax deductible. Click here for more information from the IRS, or speak to your tax professional.
New Year’s offers us the chance to start anew — we can forget the mistakes of the past and look forward to a brighter future. But that idea isn’t reserved for January 1st. Each day you are alive, you are able to make decisions and choices to change the direction of your life, so start now!
Niya Allen-Vatel is a Nationally Certified Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Coach based in New York City.