Most people procrastinate and wait for the new year to start focusing on their career or commencing a job search. This goal is usually lumped into part of a package of New Year’s resolutions, such as going to the gym, eating healthier, treating people nicer and stop acting like a narcissistic sociopath.
When you go to gym the first week in January, it’s usually packed and by mid January you have the place to yourself. We earnestly make self-improvement promises, but neglect to establish a game plan to achieve them. Everyone says that you should set goals to achieve your desired outcome. A goal, such as getting a new job by late January, may lead to disappointment and failure. It’s a binary thought process that you either get the job or you don’t by a certain self-imposed deadline. I believe that you are better served to develop habits that you adhere to each and every day, which ultimately leads toward achieving your goal. When you change your habits you will reinvent your life.
- The first thing you need to establish is the right mindset, which will guide you throughout the entire process. It’s important to train your mind to think positively. This is easier said than done. As you go throughout your day, whether it’s related to the job search or not, push yourself to see the positive side of things. Instead of instinctively falling into the default thought process of complaining, criticizing yourself and succumbing to the fear of failure, reprogram your mind to counter these thoughts with positive ones. This is an unending battle, even for the most successful people. Once you start making that change, your mood will improve, people will treat you nicer and your confidence will grow, which is mission critical for the interview process.
- Start now and mean it. Don’t procrastinate your job search until 2019. Think of today as the beginning of your new year—2018 is over and done with. It doesn’t matter what mistakes you made and how badly you messed things up; this is your chance to start with a clean slate. There’s no looking back or regrets. While others are sitting on the sidelines waiting for divine intervention to improve their lives, you will be out in front of them hustling to improve your life by getting a new job.
- Decide on what your dream job looks like and write a detailed system—habits—of how you will execute the game plan. Doing just one of these referenced items alone won’t work. You need a consistent combination of focused actions completed every day to succeed. This will involve forcing yourself—at times—to do a little bit of everything on a daily basis. Think of it as a long, challenging journey and you’re taking incremental steps each and every day to get to your destination. There will be hurdles and roadblocks, but you will overcome them.
- Thoroughly research companies in your space that have a sterling reputation and are known for their employee-centric attitude. The more you know about a company that you are interviewing with, the greater the chances are that you will excel in the interview.
- Search LinkedIn for human resource personnel, internal corporate recruiters and possible hiring managers to connect with. You can learn a lot about the types of people they hire, how often they hire and when a role becomes available. You’ll notice when they post new jobs and can quickly respond. Feel free to send your new contacts a message about your interest in working at their company. Comment on their postings and make yourself known to them.
- Take a fresh, new look at your LinkedIn profile and résumé to ensure that it is positioned for the job that you want. It is fine to have several different versions of your résumé that you will send out. A general résumé may not cover certain specific requirements that a job description requires. Your LinkedIn profile must be optimized to be easily searchable. Think of how you run Google searches in your non-business life for things that you are interested in learning about. The terms you use are highly fine-tuned and tailored to get the best results. You need your LinkedIn profile to show up in the first page of listings when a recruiter or human resources person searches for a candidate in your field.
- Recruiters are a little bored right about now. There are few newly released jobs, as companies are waiting for their 2019 budgets and approvals to hire. Use this quiet time to contact recruiters in your space who have connections with the kind of companies you would like to work for. Try meeting them in person to get a good sense of whether or not they will work hard and champion your cause.
- Conduct searches on job sites to see if they have openings and submit your résumé. Don’t get disappointed if there are no answers. Internal recruiters are busy with end-of-year projects and waiting for directions regarding the new year. Even though they may not respond, at least your résumé is in front of them for when the wheels start moving again. Since the average person—unlike you— is wasting their time doing nothing, your résumé will gain their attention due to the lack of competition.
- Ask around to see if you have friends or former colleagues who work at companies that you are interested in. Take initiative, contact them and request for their help to pull some strings to get you an interview. It sounds pushy (and it is), but these are the things you need to do to make things happen. What is one uncomfortable conversation compared to obtaining a job you love with more money and greater growth potential that will last your entire career?
- Practice and perfect your elevator pitch. If you are not familiar with this concept, it derives from being able to sell someone on your business or anything else in the short time you are together on an elevator ride. Work on how to sell yourself in the interview. Have someone listen and critique your style and approach. You want to be able to quickly and concisely describe what you do at your job and why your skills and background are a perfect fit. This should also be done in an upbeat and enthusiastic tone.
- Use this time period to read, learn and catch up on what’s going on in your industry, so that you’ll sound like an expert when you interview. It’s embarrassing and an interview killer if there are significant things happening in your world and, when asked about them, you give a deer-in-headlights look of ignorance.
- Purchase a sharp, new interview wardrobe that is appropriate for the companies you are meeting with. If you are applying to a cool, hip FinTech company, casual attire is suitable, whereas if you are meeting with a stuffy and uptight bank, a proper Brooks Brothers suit may be in order.
- Avoid getting sucked into the holiday and post-holiday vortex of overeating, too much partying and lying around the house getting complacent and lazy. Seize control of your time and don’t let it dwindle away without taking affirmative actions. Before you realize it, all of your competition will be in the marketplace and you want to get the jump on them.
These habits—if religiously followed every day—will make a world of a difference. Over time, this system will enable you to accumulate more knowledge about the job market, increase your connections on LinkedIn, enhance relationships with recruiters, grow your network and improve your interviewing skills. Your odds of successfully reaching the goal of obtaining a new job will dramatically improve.