You’re hoping this year will bring new opportunities on the job front. But, sitting around just applying to listings doesn’t cut it anymore. How are you going to ensure your job search is a success in the coming months?
Identify target companies, instead of positions. Do you dream of working for a specific organization? Why wait around, hoping for an opportunity to open up? Instead, reach out to target companies (a list of 5-10 should be sufficient) and ask for an informational interview or job shadow opportunity. Get to know employees at the company. In the future, if you made a positive impression and stay at the front of the individual’s mind, they may refer you to an opening or bring up your name before an opening occurs.
Reach out to your network. You’ve heard the statistics before: As many as 80 percent of job opportunities happen through networking, to some extent. Some experts say this number is even higher. Your current contacts are a powerful tool—are you overlooking this resource because of embarrassment or, perhaps, you feel you’ll be an annoyance? It’s human nature to want to help others, and you’ll never know if someone could help you unless you ask. A simple e-mail to catch up and update an old contact or acquaintance can often open doors you never knew existed.
Network everywhere you go. The word “networking” has such a negative connotation, but really, it’s just about starting conversations and seeing where those conversations take you. You’ve probably heard someone say, “I met so-and-so at the grocery store, of all places” before. Everyday places you visit – the library, the gym, your local grocery store, the post office, etc. – could be the best place to talk with other professionals in a comfortable, low-pressure setting and propel your job search forward.
Become your own advocate. Unfortunately, in this job market, there’s no room for being passive in your job search anymore. You need to put yourself out there—even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone. Become active on social media (or create accounts if you don’t already have them) and brand yourself as an expert and a professional. Create a professional portfolio website to showcase your experience and accomplishments to potential employers. Create business cards and keep them handy at all times in order to make the most of every encounter.
Seek out support. Your job search can take several months (sometimes, even a year!) to produce results. During this time, you need to seek out support from several different resources to stay positive and fight discouragement. Family and friends can provide a source of sanity and advice in tough times. There are also many career experts, career and resume coaches, and fellow job seekers available both on and offline through LinkedIn groups, Twitter chats, local organizations, career centers and employment offices.
Volunteer your time. Spending time at a local nonprofit or working with a startup company can provide a much-needed break from job seeking. It introduces you to other professionals to add to your network and gives you an opportunity to utilize your skills – all while building up your resume and portfolio through additional projects and tasks. Volunteering fills the dreaded “employment gap” with additional experience, which is a great way to impress a hiring manager in your next interview.
Broaden your skill set. Would there be more career opportunities if you had knowledge in a specific area? Could another certification significantly increase your chances of landing a job? It doesn’t necessarily have to be another 2- to 4-year degree. Look into programs, courses or conferences that can add to your knowledge base and impress potential employers.
You’re in charge of your own career destiny. So, what are you waiting for?