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January 02, 2016

The Recruiter's Guide to New Year's Resolutions

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Recruiter's Guide to New Year's Resolutions

By Jamie Chafel, Professional Recruiter

One of the most popular New Year's resolutions is to find a better job. Given the current healthy employment market, 2017 is looking like a great year to turn your career-related resolutions into a reality. Since there is always an uptick in hiring after the holidays, individuals who are prepared will get access to the best career opportunities. Here are some tips on being ready to find the employment you want in the new year.

1. Spread some holiday cheer. Take the time to share season's greetings with your professional network. This is a great way to reconnect with former colleagues that you've lost touch with over the years who may be in a position to hook you up with the right opportunity or serve as a solid reference. Having an internal associate who can speak directly to your work and what you bring to the table can be one of the most effective ways to get your foot in the door.

2. Stand out on LinkedIn.The most common action taken by employers after reading your resume is checking your LinkedIn page. It's crucial that your LinkedIn profile demonstrates all the positive attributes you've expressed in your resume, while also telling a story that compels a prospective employer to reach out. Use a professional photo. Make sure the employment section is up-to-date and complete, highlights what you've accomplished in your career, and shows what you are passionate about professionally. Take the time to add to your list of connections, and ask for recommendations from colleagues and former managers. Your LinkedIn page is part of an online database being searched by thousands of recruiters in your market on a daily basis, so make sure it includes the appropriate vernacular and search terms that correlate with the types of jobs you want to hear about. Be findable!

3. Are you being social enough? Having a professional social media presence is a must-have for job seekers. We've already covered LinkedIn, but don't forget about Twitter. The same rules apply - use professional picture and a well-crafted bio that encapsulates your professional self, all in a condensed manner. Tech-savvy employers in today's market are tweeting out their higher profile and most urgent job openings. Make a list of the companies you're interested in and follow their Twitter accounts so you don't miss anything new that's posted. And don't forget to tweet! Post tweets that include relevant keywords that are pertinent to your search. Seem like a lot to manage? It's worth the effort.

4. Check in with your recruiter. Make sure you and your recruiter are on the same page with your search goals. The holidays are a perfect time to check in and say hello. When the right opportunity comes across their desk, you want your name to be top-of-mind. If you're working with a good recruiter, you should be able to gather some intelligence on the market, recent salary trends, what companies are hiring, and how to best start preparing for the upcoming interview process. Don't have a recruiter? Make that one of your resolutions for the new year. Ask your network for recommendations, and don't commit until you've found one that can be effective and who you can trust to have your best interests in mind.

5. Have a conversation with the candidate in the mirror. Before you start applying and interviewing, take an honest self-assessment of what's most important. Is it having the chance to take on more responsibility and advance? Is it having a work-life balance that allows you to coach your kids' sports teams on mid-week afternoons? Is it working for a company with a socially impactful mission? You may discover that your career goals and objectives are different from the last time you looked for a job. Priorities change. Getting the answers now will make the search process more efficient, and more importantly, ensure the highest level of personal and professional satisfaction with the outcome.

6. Be ready to act. Regardless of how a new opportunity comes about, when it does, employers will be motivated to fill it quickly. If you're not ready to match their urgency, you could miss out. Make sure your resume is up-to-date and ready to be presented with confidence. Assemble a list of references you feel comfortable with and confirm their consent and readiness to come through for you. Prepare for interviews by crafting your elevator pitch - a succinct, but powerful, message that explains what makes you unique and why a company can't live without you.

7. About that resume. Having your resume ready to go means a lot more than updating the months and years you've spent at your current employer. Resumes that include the basics - overview, job titles, day-to-day responsibilities, education, etc. - can all start to look the same. How do you make yours stand out? Start by highlighting how you have progressed within the organizations you've served. Instead of listing your responsibilities, detail what you have accomplished for the company. When you pick and choose what to include, give priority to what seems most pertinent for the new opportunity. Having a resume that yields lots of phone calls, but all for the wrong job, doesn't do you much good.

8. Don't be afraid to ask for help. A successful job search can't be accomplished alone. At some point - whether it's asking your former boss to be a reference or asking your prospective boss for the job - going through the interview process becomes an exercise in collaboration. The earlier you start asking for help the better. Don't be bashful in reaching out to your extended network, both professional and personal, to let them know you could use their assistance in finding a new opportunity. You will likely be pleasantly surprised by their willingness and eagerness to help. Work up the courage to go to networking events and have the same conversations with strangers. Professional networkers are accustomed to asking, "How can I help?" If you take the same approach, you will quickly fit in and form new partnerships that can pay big dividends - now and in the future.

9. Nothing that's worthwhile comes easy. Odds are, the first online application you make with your resume isn't going to be the one that leads to your next great opportunity. Completing a successful job search takes focus, persistence and a lot of hard work. Adding this to an already full plate that includes your current job, family responsibilities and social life can make it hard to find the necessary time. Find ways to get into a routine and hold yourself accountable to it, whether that means allotting every Tuesday night to attend a networking event or getting up early on Saturdays to search for new leads and send out resumes. Determine a system that works for you and your schedule and stick to it.

10. It takes a village. Whether you are in the midst of a job search or not, the connections made by getting immersed in groups can be invaluable to your career. Find a trade association, meet-up group, fan club, or online discussion forum that overlaps with your career and get involved. Try attending an event or two from several different groups and determine which will be most beneficial before you commit to just one.

If you think you're ready to make a resolution of getting a new position in the new year, now is the time to start preparing. With some good planning and hard work, you could get a new job soon after that New Year's ball drops!

Jamie Chafel is a recruiter and consultant for the Permanent Search Division of WinterWyman an award-winning, 40-year old Boston-based search firm. Specifically positioned within the Software Technology Search Group, he spends his days working to identify matches between Software Engineers and career opportunities within a client base that includes a large sample of the most innovative and fastest-growing technology product companies in the region. To learn more about Jamie follow him on Twitter @JamieChafel_WW

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