Your New Year’s resolutions may have disappeared before you turned the calendar to February. But if your goals for the year included finding a job, there’s still plenty of time to make this resolution happen.
Earlier in January, we created Your 2013 Job-Search Guide, with a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of actions to take in your hunt for employment. Here’s an overview of the year’s timeline:
- Q1 (January – March): Devote the first few months of the year to getting organized — organize your thoughts, organize your application materials and organize your contacts.
- Q2 (April – June): A few months in, you should be going full-steam ahead with your job search. Your days should be filled with applying, following up, networking and (hopefully) going to interviews. If you’re a college student, get a head start in your professional job search by tapping alumni, using your school’s career resources and making initial contact with companies of interest.
- Q3 (July – September): At around the mid-year mark, take a step back to review what’s working and what’s not in your job search. It’s not too late to course-correct to ensure that you reach your goals during the back half of the year.
- Q4 (October – December): During the last few months of the year, take advantage of the season. Network at holiday parties, consider seasonal job opportunities and take the time to thank those who have helped you professionally throughout the year.
If you missed the first quarter of the year, you can quickly catch up. If you’re on track, it’s time to put your organization and research to good use. Follow these steps to plant seeds in your job search, and by summer you could see several job opportunities crop up.
The year’s first quarter focused on getting organized and laying groundwork in your job search:
- Put your goals in writing
- Conduct an audit on your application materials
- Reconnect with contacts made during the holidays
Once you’ve figured out what goals you have in your career, as well as what skills and experience you will need to make them happen, you can start taking action. Also be aware of employee expectations in your particular industry. Are there training sessions or certifications you can sign up for to improve your résumé? If you need more tailored help, try reaching out to contacts from the holiday season or re-visit your connections on professional networking sites.
Q2: Take action
Now that you’ve organized and updated your job-search materials like your résumé, contact information for references and any professional networking profiles, it’s time to put that hard work to good use.
- Set weekly goals to stay on track: To prevent yourself from getting off schedule, set realistic, weekly goals in your job search. How much time can you devote to searching for jobs, researching companies and writing cover letters or application materials? How many jobs per week will you apply for?
- Capitalize on current hiring trends: Many employers are now hiring contract or temporary workers, and nearly one in four employers plan to transition some contract or temporary staff into permanent employees in the second quarter, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey. This can be a great opportunity to add more work experience to your résumé and potentially find a job permanently. Your education may also improve your odds of being hired: Some of the top-hiring industries are targeting specific bachelor’s degrees. Also try using social media in your job search. Whether for researching, networking or finding open positions, social media sites can actually help your job search instead of serving as a distraction.
- Use your updated materials and customize them further: Personal branding is a hot topic in job searching, and can help set you apart from the competition. The idea is to sync up your work experience, career goals and personality into a neat package to present to employers. Whether you try it or not, do make sure you’re customizing your materials you send potential employers. Find ways to tailor your résumé, cover letter and any work samples or other materials to the personality of the company, including specific qualities of the company in your cover letter and why you’re interested; also pull keywords from the job description and include them in your materials to keep safe from applicant tracking systems.
- If you’re a college student, stay ahead of the competition: Start strong in your career by utilizing all resources available to you. Network with alumni, get advice from a trusted professor or course advisor, attend career fairs and make an appointment at your school’s career resources center. Also be sure to avoid these 10 common job-search mistakes recent college graduates often make.