Get better sleep. Start a new workout routine. Practice mindfulness. As you make resolutions to improve your life, you might also find yourself setting some 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.
To help you find a position in 2021 that matches your skills, experience and interests, 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 opportunity 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 identify passive job seekers. With 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
To realize your job search goals, you need to be ready to compete for the roles you want, of course. And no matter your chosen industry or career, developing an in-demand skill or pursuing a certification can help you to stand out as a candidate.
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 coveted skills and certifications for certain roles.)
Goal #3: Prioritize job satisfaction
It’s a good time to assess your job search goals — as well as your personal aspirations — and determine exactly what type of employment opportunity to seek. Many professionals are doing that as they look ahead to a new year — and leave a very disruptive one behind.
Perhaps you’d like to work in a different industry, for example? Or take on a more fulfilling role with greater responsibility? Maybe you’re looking for a remote work opportunity that provides a flexible schedule? Formulate a clear idea of what you’re aiming for, so you can better focus your search for a new position.
Goal #4: Audit your online presence
You can assume all potential employers will review your LinkedIn profile (refer to Goal #1). But 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 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
Your professional network can play a critical role in your ability to achieve your job search goals. In lieu of in-person networking during the pandemic, look for virtual events hosted by professional or alumni organizations, or other groups relevant to your profession or industry.
Also, reach out to new contacts on LinkedIn and ask trusted colleagues, mentors and friends for their recommendations. Be both strategic and genuine in your requests to make connections. And don’t stop nurturing ties with the professional contacts you already have.
Goal #6: Be persistent
Most employers today are taking great care to choose job candidates who are likely to thrive in their unique organization. So, even if you’re a top candidate for a job, it may take weeks and several rounds of interviewing before you hear back about a final decision.
Don’t get discouraged. But don’t just wait around for an employer to make up their mind. Stay in contact with the hiring manager. Continue networking. Keep applying to other jobs that interest you. And consider building a relationship with a recruiting professional. After all, nothing is certain until you’ve signed on the dotted line.
Best of luck in realizing your job search goals — and achieving all your other 2021 goals!