Get better sleep, join a gym, practice mindfulness, simply have more fun. As you make resolutions to improve your life, you might also find yourself setting some new year goals around your career, including exploring the employment market. But you can’t simply wish your way to a more fulfilling career. You have to work at it.
Yes, the market for skilled professionals may be hot, but that doesn’t mean you can jump in cold. To help you find a position that matches your skills, experience and interests in 2020, start working toward these job search goals now:
Goal #1: Update your resume and LinkedIn profile
You can probably think of a million things you’d rather be doing than writing a resume. But you’ll do yourself a favor if you have an up-to-date document at your fingertips.
One mistake people frequently make is to wait to revise their resume until they find a job that interests them. That prevents them from applying for the position right away. And by the time they have an updated version ready to submit, it may be too late. So, don’t delay.
While you’re at it, review your LinkedIn profile and make sure it reflects your most recent professional accomplishments. Your profile is essentially your online resume, and many employers search for candidates on LinkedIn as part of their recruiting efforts. You want your profile to reflect the same information as your traditional resume.
Another advantage of having a polished LinkedIn profile? Recruiters often use LinkedIn to help identify passive job seekers. If you maintain a solid online profile, you’ll increase the likelihood that a recruiter will take a closer look at you.
Goal #2: Strengthen your skill set
Even in a candidate-driven job market, you need to do whatever you can to gain an advantage over your fellow job seekers. One way is to learn a new skill or earn a certification. No matter your chosen industry or career, change is happening all around you. Your skill set may need a boost to remain relevant and attractive to employers.
Pursuing professional development shows initiative and a commitment to learning, as well as an understanding of what it takes to excel in your field. It also makes it easier for you to answer the question that all hiring managers are likely to ask in one form or another: “How can you add value to the organization?”
Possessing certain abilities and credentials can also help you negotiate a higher salary. (Robert Half’s Salary Guides offer insight into how much more employers are willing to pay professionals with in-demand skills and certifications for certain roles.)
Goal #3: Look for a job that makes you happy
Now is a good time to assess your professional and personal goals and determine exactly what you are looking for in a new job. What would make you happy?
A bigger paycheck? A fancier title? The opportunity to work at a top firm in your field? All these things are nice, no doubt. They can probably contribute to your on-the-job happiness, as well. But are they more important to your overall satisfaction than a shorter commute? Or an invigorating workplace culture? Or the potential to advance quickly?
Develop a clear picture in your mind of what would make you happiest and allow you to reach the new year goal you’ve set of securing a new job. Without a clear idea of what this job looks like, you’ll have trouble finding the right fit.
Goal #4: Audit your online presence
You can assume all potential employers will review your LinkedIn profile. Some will also look at other channels to see if they can form a more complete picture of you as a job candidate. Consider how you present yourself on social media and online forums. You may need to do some digital housecleaning.
Make sure all information is current and accurate and presents you in the best possible light. If there’s anything you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see — photos from a recent vacation or your unfiltered thoughts about a politician or a sports team’s poor performance, for example — review your privacy settings.
Goal #5: Expand your professional network
If you expect to find a new role simply by sitting in front of the computer and looking for jobs online, you’d better rethink your strategy. In addition to submitting applications through job boards, you need to work on expanding your professional network — both online and offline. The latter is especially important.
Events held by professional organizations, conferences, trade shows and employer-hosted open houses are just some of the places where you can build your professional network. These gatherings provide the opportunity for you to meet people in person — including hiring managers and recruiters — and begin to form strong relationships with contacts who may be able to assist in your search.
Goal #6: Be persistent
Despite the tight labor market, employers still want to be sure a job candidate is a good fit for the position and company culture before extending an offer. Even if you’re one of their top candidates, it may take weeks and several rounds of interviews before you hear back about the final decision.
But that doesn’t mean you should simply wait around until an employer makes up their mind. Stay in contact with the hiring manager. Don’t stop networking. Continue to apply for other jobs. Build a relationship with a recruiting professional. After all, nothing is certain until you’ve signed on the dotted line.
As for your other resolutions? Definitely have more fun.