5 Tips to a New Job in the New Year

find a job with magnifying glass

Is finding a new job one of your new year’s resolutions?  If you want to find a new job, just search the online want ads.  But if you want to find the right job, you’ll need to drastically change your job search strategy.

The modern job search is a constantly changing flood of “high tech” plus “high touch” recruitment, requiring job seekers to expand the number of tools and networking platforms used to find new opportunities.

  • It’s not enough to be on LinkedIn, you need to use LinkedIn as part of your outreach and job search.
  • You’ll need to check out your Facebook page and other social media accounts to make sure that you are presenting an image that you want a potential employer to see. (Recruiters and hiring managers routinely look up job candidates on social media – even before the first screening interview.)

But you shouldn’t relegate your job search exclusively to social media or online job boards – that’s just the “high tech” part of the job campaign.  It is also important to incorporate a “high touch” approach in your job search.

Video conferencing is a great way to network or reach out to past contacts (even if they’re in a different time zone or country) to reconnect; Zoom offers a powerful free service and is easier to schedule than finding a convenient meeting place, date, and time for coffee.  Besides, no matter how an employer finds out about you, eventually you’ll still be in a face-to-face meeting before you are hired – either onsite or online.

Resumes have also changed over the years – and the advice on creating an effective resume in the 21st century job market elicits a wide range of do’s and don’ts.

  • Should you use color on your resume?
  • What about the best font – is sans serif “better” than serif?
  • How about layout? Is the hanging 1st line format so popular in the past going to be readable by the employer’s ATS (applicant tracking system)?
  • And what about using columns? Block lines?  Images or graphics?

The answer to all these question is:  IT DEPENDS.  On the ATS used by the employer, when a recruiter (a live person!) looks at resumes in the candidate sourcing process, and even on the preferences of the hiring manager.

I recently wrote a blog post on generally what not to do in formatting your resume, I’ve discovered that a lot of the do’s and don’ts depend on the employer’s ATS – not to mention the ability of the recruiter to effectively input the desired qualifications into the system!  For example, if you’re searching for a faculty position, using the term “university teaching” might be translated as NO experience in the field if the qualifications specified “higher education teaching!”

No wonder so many job candidates hate dealing with online job applications.

Learning how to “play” the ATS game is even more complicated since competing systems scan and interpret resumes differently.  Honestly, haven’t you been frustrated (even angry?!) when you’ve applied online for a job that seems to be custom-made made for you – only to receive no response or a “thanks, but no thanks” generic email?   A recent article in Forbes acknowledged this frustration in its alarming title, Why Your Resume Will Be Overlooked Even Though You’re Completely Qualified.

So, what should you do?  How do you set yourself up for a successful job search that differentiates you from the noise of other job candidates?

The Fundamental (Yet Overlooked) Job Search Basics

If you’re thinking about finding a new job,
what is the first thing that you do?

If you’re like most people, you take out your old resume and then add in the stuff that you’ve done since then – if you can remember all of it.  Step two is perusing the job boards and going through the frustrating process of applying online.  Step three is to wait…and wait…and wait for a response.

Not much fun…and neither efficient nor effective.

After 30 years working with job candidates from new graduates to senior executives, I’ve discovered that polishing up your resume and launching your job search should only be attempted after completing the following five steps:

  1. Understand your past. This is not just a laundry list of what you’ve done, but also a deep dive into how you did it, why you did it, and if it is something that you would want to do again.  This enables you to have a more comprehensive understanding of what you need in a job in order to be successful, satisfied, and avoid job burnout.
  2. Identify your competencies. Once you have an understanding of your past, search for trends in the skills that you used to get those results.  Perhaps you’re a great negotiator, a motivational leader, an astute analyst, or even a tireless problem-solver.  These are your competencies – or the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that you do really, really well.  Together, they create your U.S.P. (unique selling proposition) that differentiates you from other job candidates.
  3. Know what you want. What are your “must have’s” and “can’t stands?”  How do you need to be managed in order to create excellent results?  In what type of work environment or culture do you feel the most comfortable and nurtured in developing your talents?  Especially if you’ve burned out in your current job, the last thing that you want to do is accept a position in a similar culture…but with a new employer!
  4. Decide if you want a new job – or a new career. While some of the fundamentals are the same, searching for a new career has additional challenges that are not present when you want to do the same work, but for a different employer.  Be sure to consider and incorporate your transferable skills throughout your search so that your career change is recognized as a well-considered next step on your career path.
  5. Customize your search to find the right job (not just any job). You are unique, there is no one exactly like you.  No one with your unique combination of KSA’s and competencies.  No one with the exact same professional and personal experiences.  Embrace your uniqueness!  You will be much better able to position yourself as the ideal candidate for a job that has the right combination of duties, responsibilities, opportunities for recognition, and culture for YOU.  Don’t be generic in your resume, cover letter, or interview – you can’t be all things to all potential employers, so don’t try!

By focusing FIRST on these five tips, you will be better able to craft a powerful resume, scour job boards for compatible jobs, confidently network with colleagues, and master the job interview.  Your goal for the new year should not be to find just a new job, but to find the right job.  Happy hunting!

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning and Coaching company focused on eradicating workplace burnout through the B-DOC Model.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, keynote speaker, author, blogger, business coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action” by watching her TEDx Talk on YouTube.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com

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