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New Year, New Opportunities: How to Prepare for a Job Search in 2018

With the end of the year quickly approaching, it is a common time for people to reflect on the past 12 months and start planning for the new year. As a result of this soul searching, many decide it may be time to take the next step in their careers and jump back into the job market.

If you think you’re ready to look for job opportunities in the new year, here are several steps to help you prepare for the search process:

  • Do Your Research: Before starting a job search, ask yourself several questions to help you find a clear career objective. Do you want to remain in the same function and industry, or are you looking for something completely different? Do you enjoy working for a larger company with more resources and job options, or a smaller company with broader responsibilities? Are you open to relocation? What type of workplace culture matches with your personality?
  • Update Your Resume: I always recommend updating your resume regularly throughout the year instead of spending several painful hours updating it all at once. However, if you haven’t taken that approach, the next best thing is to start looking at various resume formats. There are countless options to choose from, so determine which format fits your personality and highlights your experiences best. Ensure you add any new roles, responsibilities, accomplishments and results. Don’t assume the reader knows your organization and its industry, revenue size, location, etc. – describe it in a brief sentence so it provides some context to the reader.
  • Develop A Plan: Identify the target companies that fit your objective and establish how you’ll get your foot in the door. Develop a list of people you plan to network with – current colleagues, former colleagues, consultants, friends, neighbors, LinkedIn contacts, etc. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date before you begin reaching out to your contacts.
  • Execute the Plan: Focus on networking, connecting with search firms and applying to jobs online. Spend most of your time networking instead of online job applications, where your resume is likely to get lost in the shuffle. Many roles are filled through networks instead of online postings, so building your referral base is critical for a successful job search.
  • Follow Up: Once you talk to someone in your network, make sure to send a follow-up message within the next day or so. Staying in touch is a good way to help them remember you for future referrals. Follow up with them on a schedule: provide them with an updated resume, invite them to a local meeting or send them an article or blog post that may be of interest to them. Don’t forget the thank you note too! (Can’t you just hear your mother reminding you?)

Looking for a new job can be a difficult process. It doesn’t happen overnight, and you will run into unforeseen twists and turns throughout the way. The key is to remain positive and focused. Remember that all of your hard work could result in the start of the next chapter in your career, and an exciting beginning to 2018!

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