If your New Year’s resolution was to get a new job or chart a new career path, it is time to get moving. You’ve probably seen the “now hiring” signs — companies of all kinds are looking for good workers right now. But how do you start if you’re not sure what you want to do or where you should be?
First, determine what you want to do. If you do not like the things you have been doing in your present job, make sure to rule those out when looking at job descriptions. Whether you are seeking a new job that will fulfill your needs to improve your financial situation, a job to give you more of a challenge, a job to improve your chances for long-term career growth or a job to help you move out of mom and dad’s house, you must develop a plan of action. Develop a plan of attack or an action plan that includes a list of things you want your new job to include. Companies are hiring all through the year, so any day of the year is a good one to begin your search.
Start your job search by completing a self-assessment of your skills, abilities, educational level and your previous job experiences. Talk to your professional and personal network (family members, friends, church members, neighbors, clubs that you belong to, the football league your kids belong to and even co-workers that you can trust). Do not be afraid to ask the people in your network for guidance or insight. These individuals can be a valuable resource for you in your new job search, and they can expose you to some amazing job opportunities. They may not only have openings at their companies, but they may also know of other companies in the area that are hiring.
Once you have decided where you want to be — start getting out there. Develop relationships with people inside those companies who may be able to help you get your foot in the door. Contact managers to discuss job opportunities that you are interested in and set up face-to-face meetings with them. One of your goals should be to set yourself apart from all other applicants through your abilities, experiences and how you can offer value to the company.
When applying for jobs, make sure your resume is up to date, as it is critical to kicking off your job search. Ask the people in your network to review it for misspellings or any other errors (you will be surprised how fast a simple misspelling can take you out of the running for a competitive job). Tailor your resume to that particular company or industry to catch the attention of the person or people doing the hiring. Additionally, send a cover letter with your resume outlining your skills, experiences and accomplishments by telling the story of why you would be a valuable asset to this company.
Polish your interviewing skills. Devote time and energy to being fully prepared for interview questions. Have professionals or people in your network conduct mock interviews with you to enhance your preparation. Research and know as much as possible about the company you are going to be interviewing with. Be confident and positive when answering questions, and speak loudly and clearly as to be understood.
In addition to your personal network, remember there are lots of websites and social media sites than can help your search as well. New jobs open up all the time, and this is another valuable resource to put in your toolbox. The sites are easy to navigate and could provide that right opportunity you have been looking for. For example, Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, ZipRecruiter.com, Indeed.com and LinkedIn.com, just to name a few.
Take time to check out the companies you want to work for by reviewing their job descriptions, their professionalism, their communication style, what their employees say about the company and most importantly, what their customers say about the company. If this all looks good to you, this could be the perfect fit! Remember, no matter how good or bad the economy is, there are always good jobs out there and more companies looking for their next superstar.
Darrell Brown is a clinical associate professor of management at Indiana University Kelley School of Business at IUPUI.