The champagne has been popped, the decorations are packed, and we’re closing in on Valentine’s Day.
Translation: If getting a new job was on your list of 2019 resolutions and you haven’t done anything yet, you’re officially procrastinating. It’s time to get out there and make your move. Don’t get me wrong, waiting until the new year to look for work can be the smart thing to do—reducing frustration since many companies slow their hiring in December as they wrap things up at year-end. But now, it’s time. Here are five ways to get the ball rolling now.
Decide What “Perfect” Means to You
If you’ve said aloud that you want the “perfect” job or the “best” job you’ve ever had, but you haven’t taken time to make a list—preferably a written one—of the exact qualities you’re looking for, then do that first, suggests Megan Murdock, executive board member of CBIZ Women’s Advantage, a program that directs the development of female professionals. Consider the type of work you’re looking for, location and commute, title, pace of environment, bonus potential, flexibility, training opportunities, growth potential, travel opportunities, etc., Murdock says. Then, rank these in order of priority.
Go into any negotiation with a clear understanding of what each of these things means to you.
“Understanding and owning your priorities will save you time from going down the wrong path and can more effectively drive your negotiations,” she says. While some companies may not be able to negotiate with you in terms of salary offered, they may have wiggle room when it comes to other items that rank high on your list such as flexible hours, additional vacation days or work-from-home options. You should go into any negotiation with a clear understanding of what each of these things means to you.
Leverage Your Network
Here’s the mantra to sticky-note to your bathroom mirror: Don’t. Be. Shy.
“Many job-seekers don’t realize that employees are often incentivized to help recruit employees,” explains Jody Greenstone Miller, CEO and founder of Business Talent Group, an online marketplace for independent talent. Meaning that if a current employee refers you, and you get hired, they might earn actual cash money (or some other perk) for doing so. “In fact, you’re likely doing someone a favor by reaching out to them and suggesting they introduce you to the right people at a company,” she says.
You’re not only tapping into jobs that may not be available yet, you’re also building confidence.
Remember that when you tap into your network, you’re not only tapping into jobs that may not be available yet, you’re also building confidence, says Addie Swartz, CEO of reacHIRE, a company that works with organizations to promote a gender diverse workforce and bring women back to work after a career break. If it’s been awhile since you practiced your elevator pitch and interview questions, head out to a networking event and see how you fare. (Or, if you have none scheduled, just rehearse aloud. Our co-founder Jean Chatzky is a fan of doing this in the car. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.) Also, the new year is a good time to give professional organizations in your field a second look—any dues you pay may be well worth the investment when you look at the connections you stand to make, Swartz says.
Commit Yourself to Rockstar Performance in Your Current Role
If you’re really looking forward to escaping the job you have now, it can seem counterintuitive to put your heart and soul into your current role. But you would be wise to use these next few months to determine what your strongest skills are, and to seek out opportunities to show leadership in those areas, says Jodi Chavez, group president at human resources company Randstad Life Sciences.
“For example, you could volunteer to lead a team training or sit on a committee whose mission matters to you,” she says. The next step will be to make sure those activities are reflected on your resume. “Hiring managers love to hire people with a strong track record of leadership, as it shows they can contribute to a team’s overall growth and advancement.”
Audit Your Social Media Accounts
If you did this years ago and you haven’t been to any drunken frat parties since, you may be rolling your eyes right now. But even grownups need a cleanup sometimes. Our friends may have a bad habit of tagging us in not-so-flattering photos or we may have gotten overly political one night after that third glass of rosé. The point is that you take some time to polish and update your digital presence, Chavez advises, adding that social channels really can make or break an employer’s first impression of you.
Even grownups need a cleanup sometimes.
And if you have a couple years’ work experience under your belt, don’t just stop at cleaning up your social presence—start using your channels to display your talent, advises Megan Driscoll, CEO and founder of EvolveMKD public relations firm. “I always recommend that people should create a social persona that showcases your wins and your relationships in your industry. You should also try and paint a picture of who you are as a person,” Driscoll says. “For example, my Instagram feed often highlights client events, agency award wins and also pics of date nights with my husband or fun vacations with friends.” As you’re doing your audit, pay special attention to LinkedIn, Murdock advises. It should always reflect an accurate description of your role and showcase any articles you’ve written or been quoted in, as well as any awards won.
Do Your homework—And DON’T Put Too Much Emphasis on Title
As you’re checking out available roles, don’t get too hung up on a particular title being offered by a company. Different companies define jobs differently, Murdock says. “Don’t have tunnel-vision and let the job title discourage you from applying. Make sure you drill down to the job role and description into what the day-to-day is. This practice also ensures that you’re casting a wider net to find your next role.”
Once you target the companies you want to work for, it’s time to do some in-depth research on the ones that are the best match for you, and that have the greatest likelihood of advancing you on your chosen path, Miller says. The site Glassdoor—which offers company reviews from real employees—can be useful in that regard. But of course nothing beats an in-person conversation with someone who works for or used to work for a particular company, which is why it’s so important to start reaching out to the folks in your network from day one.
So, what are you waiting for?
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