As we approach 2011 I’ve already seen dozens of articles on how to make the new a year a prosperous one, how to find your true love in 2011 and of course the myriad of weight loss and exercise regimes that realistically I should be taking advantage of.
The New Year though is a time when people’s minds turn to fresh starts and reassessing where they stand in life. And if you’ve been out of work for some time either for several months or even years it is always a good idea to regularly take a look at your current position and ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Is my job search producing results?
- Am I still fresh and focused, or have I become bored and complacent?
- Are there any opportunities available to me that I have not taken advantage of?
- Is it time to look at other types of employment?
Depending on your answers to these simple questions, it may be time to examine what you are doing and explore how you can change things in time for the New Year.
1. Make a List of Goals.
Making a list of long as well as short term goals is essential in planning your career path and continued professional growth. And at this time of year we don’t even need to call them goals, you can call them New Year’s Resolutions instead.
Now a simple ‘get a job’ won’t suffice as a resolution, we need to be slightly more specific and include details for example:
- Have my resume checked by a professional at an Employment Resource Centre
- Make a connection with Mr. X at Joe Blogs Ltd.
- Complete my grade 12 equivalency
Also don’t restrict your resolutions to just job search goals, achieving something in one area of our life inspires us and gives us confidence in the other areas. So if working out, losing weight or starting a new hobby will help motivate you in other areas of your life, go for it.
2. Update your Resume
Your resume is your main sales document; it tells the employer what you can do and how good you are. Of course in order for it to do that your resume needs to stand out from the rest of the pile and catch the employers eye, the first thing that an employer reads on your resume can either put them off you or entice them to read on.
It is always a good idea to review all your accomplishments over the past 6 – 12 months and add them to your resume. So take a look over the past year, what have you accomplished? Maybe you went back to school and got a new certificate, or you completed some volunteer work and gained some new skills and experiences. No matter what it is, look at it and the information that is currently on your resume and ask the question will this benefit my application with a company? If it does, great put it on your resume; if not just leave it off. Regularly looking at your resume this way will help updating the resume to be less of a daunting task in the future.
3. Be ready to adapt your plan
Things change and your job search plan needs to change accordingly. You may have intended to take one straight route however; sometimes veering off the course can lead to some great opportunities. For example some job seekers decide to change careers and try new lines of work, this often requires the individual to learn new skills or gain new qualifications. This can take time and effort but adds to your job search by introducing you to new networking contacts and job opportunities.
4. Brush up on your skills and/or acquire new ones
Colleges and training organizations offer an array of continuing education classes to help you further develop your professional skills. However, no knowledge is ever wasted. If you've always been interested in languages, take a French or Spanish class for example. It may not help you in your immediate position, but it will expand your marketability or come in handy for future jobs. For instance, if your background is customer service, your newly acquired language skills could land you a job in call center that specializes in bi-lingual tele-sales.
5. Keep Your Network Alive
When was the last time you connected with people in your network? Last week, last month, last year maybe? We all have these amazing connections; the problem is we often forget they exist. Now is the perfect time of year to reconnect, so whatever medium you like to use cards, letters, emails start making contact with the people in your network and wish them a Merry Christmas
You’ll notice I didn’t say “Can you get me a job for Christmas” because let’s be honest if that’s the message you received what would you think? So instead just be nice wish them happy holidays and that you look forward to connecting with them in the New Year and then make that a New Year’s resolution.
It's important to keep your job search active, but not at the expense of your own sanity. I always encourage my clients to take breaks to keep their spirits and energy level high. Unchecked stress can feed on itself, so make time for enjoyable pursuits. And while Christmas can be especially stressful at time, it is also the perfect time (because most employers aren’t going to hire around this time) to put the job search aside and spend some time with friends and family. Then in the New Year you'll come back to your job search with some fresh perspective and energy.