One of the most common New Year’s resolutions made each and every year by millions and millions of Americans is to make a sizeable change in their career. Whether it’s breaking into a completely new industry or joining a new organization or company in your current field, this resolution can prove daunting and is often abandoned early into the New Year, in part because looking for a new career opportunity is time-consuming but also because there’s not really a firm blueprint of how to go about conducting a successful job search.
Nebulous though the process may be, there are a handful of things you can do to put yourself in the best position to succeed and make sure your application doesn’t get buried in the bottom of the pile – and especially given the COVID-19 pandemic when so many employees have been furloughed, laid-off, or downsized. With this in mind, here are 5 ways to jumpstart your job search in 2021 and some concrete steps you can take to land that dream job.
Update your resume
First impressions are everything and your resume is your first impression. Comb through your resume carefully to make sure basic information is correct: names and years of service with a previous employer, your job title (s), brief descriptions of the various duties and responsibilities for each title you’ve held, and simple grammatical or typographical errors. But beyond that, it’s also important to curate your work experience, especially the longer and more diverse your career.
Your resume doesn’t necessarily have to include your stint at your local burger shop when you were 16; by the same token, you also don’t need to include that you were named lifeguard of the year at the community pool 15 years ago. Make sure you’re showing a recruiter the experiences, talents, or skills that are most appropriate for the position you’re seeking. This will help both streamline your resume and demonstrate you understand the value you can provide an organization.
Create a LinkedIn profile
Networking and making contacts is so important in any industry, and in 2021 networking and connecting with contacts is now happening in the digital space, which is what makes a LinkedIn profile such an important tool in your job search. Once your profile is live, make sure you populate the profile with the necessary career information and history so that a potential employer can get a sense of who you are, what your background is, and how and why you would be the right fit for a job.
And yes, you need to have a profile photo and it’s a good rule of thumb to err on the side of professionalism – take a photo specifically for LinkedIn rather than using the same one on your Instagram or Facebook profile.
Research the company you want to join
A successful job search means one that is targeted and informed. Mass emailing resumes and applications to every company that is hiring for a position you’re qualified is not a strategy that will result in finding the best fit for you and your skill set. If the company maintains a LinkedIn page, browse that page to get a sense of the company culture and the people behind the organization. Read reviews on Indeed from current and previous employees. Learn about the company’s mission and vision on their website. You’ll not only better understand if the company is actually a place you’ll want to work, but you’ll also be informed about what the company does and their place in their industry should you receive an interview request.
Prep for your interview (virtual or otherwise)
Spending some time practicing how you entered your industry, the duties and responsibilities of your previous positions, or why you want to join a certain organization will help you offer streamlined, concrete responses during your interview – it will also demonstrate that you are invested in your career journey and are hungry to impress and showcase what you can do. This will also help reduce the stress or anxiety that can accompany an in-person interview.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have moved or are moving to virtual interviews only, so make sure to test your technology prior to your interview. Make sure you’re computer microphone works. Find a quiet place in your home where distractions will be minimal. Don’t forget to check the lightning so you’re clearly visible during the video interview. These efforts will help you stand out among the applications you’re competing against.
Revise your references
People changes jobs and companies. Phone numbers and addresses change. Sometimes we forget how much we may have lost touch with former co-workers that we were once so close with. Evaluating and revising your references to ensure they’re accurate, appropriate for the position, and that these references can speak accurately and positively about who you are, your work experience and history, and the skills you bring to the table can help ‘close the deal’ with a potential employer and leave a positive final thought about your candidacy in the mind of the recruiter.
Equipped with these 5 tools and an understanding of their importance, you’ll be set up to see your job search through to fruition and cross this one resolution off your list.