The start of a new year always comes with countless resolutions to do better and to be better than the year before. This year, if you hope to further your career, there are several steps you can take, starting today, to achieve your goals. Before we start, remember that the more specific your resolution, the more likely you will be to stick to it. It’s much easier to stay on track and gauge your success if you resolve to “Apply to 5 Jobs Every Week” than if you simply say you will “Apply To As Many Jobs As Possible.” That being said, here are 10 small-scale resolutions that can add up to finding your dream job this year
Do you know what salary your colleagues and contemporaries throughout the industry make? If not, this is the best place to start when determining what is and isn’t an acceptable compensation package when you’re offered a job. A lot of factors can come into play including your education level, experience, skill set, geographic location, hiring company and the current job market. This is crucial knowledge to have to effectively negotiate for the salary you deserve. Websites like Glassdoor.com, Payscale.com and Salary.com make finding it easy.
LinkedIn can help you find jobs, research a company and connect with peers and colleagues. It’s also one of the first places hiring managers will see a lot of information about you. Ensure that your profile is complete, you have a professional headshot photo (not simply cropped from a Facebook photo), and your explanations of past experience and skills are concise, thoughtful and relevant. Just as on a resumé, be specific in detailing your accomplishments, accolades and education, and remember to use industry-related words that employers are likely to search for. A strong summary goes a long way to keeping people on your page past the first 30 seconds.
LinkedIn also goes beyond normal resumé functions. Having recommendations from colleagues and professors can show how you work with others and lend additional credibility to your work history. With unlimited space, you can share samples of your work and detail specific projects you’ve worked on. Being a member of relevant groups on LinkedIn, especially if you are an active member of those groups, is another way to prove that you are committed to and excited about the industry which you are in.
Chances are you’re connected to a host of different social networks. Between Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest, there’s a lot of information that employers can find beyond your LinkedIn profile and your resumé. If you aren’t sure what’s out there, you can’t be sure what prospective employers might see. If you present yourself as a professional, potential employers will take notice. In a 2013 study, 1 out of 10 job applicants were rejected simply because of their social media activity. Additionally, showing your interests, hobbies and personality can help to humanize you and give hiring managers a sense of how you might fit in with a company’s culture and workforce.
This is about culture, respect, attitude and freedom. Glassdoor.com is a great resource for insight into a company’s culture through the eyes of their employees, although smaller companies may be more difficult to gauge. Another good thing to remember is that job interviews go both ways. If you landed an interview, chances are that they’ve already determined if your skill set satisfies the position’s requirements. What the interview does is give the hiring managers and your possible coworkers a chance to see if you are a good fit for the company culture.
Remember that the interview process is also your chance to determine if the company matches your core values and is some place you’d want to work. There are a host of reasons that you may not match up perfectly with a company, so it’s important to determine how much leeway you will give, or what matters most to you. Before making a decision, take some time to evaluate the compensation package, travel time, company culture and the opportunities for career advancement and ongoing education.
You’ve likely met countless professionals in your industry and other industries through school, through friends and family and through previous jobs. Now is the time to tap those resources and find out if there are any opportunities you’re missing. People you haven’t talked to in years may be able to suggest a job opening or even recommend you for a role within their company. Perhaps it is even more likely that one of your contacts knows someone else who could help you, someone that you never would have met on your own.
Social networks make it easy to stay in touch with a large number of acquaintances and it cannot hurt to ask as many people as possible if they know of an open position that fits what you’re looking for. The best way to do this is to be personal and gracious, to message people directly and independently as a friend. You can also post on your main pages asking for suggestions, but the people most likely to answer will be those that you already talk to.
If you apply to every job posted online you’ll burn out quickly and possibly miss that perfect opportunity you’ve been waiting for. Just as you determined what kind of company you want to work for, you should figure out the specifics you want in a job. The required credentials and experience, responsibilities, the industry and whether you want to get in on the ground level of a startup or if you’d prefer the security of a large, established company. Are you willing to relocate to a new city? Are you willing to commute an hour to and from work? If not, it’s a waste of your time and energy to apply for those positions.
If you use an identical resume for every job application, it’s likely that other candidates will appear more qualified or more suited to a position, even if you truly would be the best fit. Every job has different requirements and responsibilities, and every company has different expectations and needs. Find out what you can about the job and the company, then make appropriate edits to your resumé. Some experience and skills may be more important for certain positions, and for others they may be a waste of space. It’s smart to have several versions of your resume saved, so that you have a strong jumping off point for several different positions. You can start with one template, save each version as you make changes, then determine which resume is the best option for each future application.
There is no shortage of advice on how to land your dream job, and much of it is now available online or even in standalone smartphone apps. For iOS users, What Color Is Your Parachute is a top-selling job-hunting book that has its own app, while Monster.com Interviews provides step-by-step advice for every stage of a job interview. Other helpful iOS apps include 101 Great Answers to the Toughest Questions, Interview Pro and Interview Buzz Pro.
For Android users, Best Resume Tips can help you perfect your wording and approach to writing a resume, while Resume Builder Pro allows you to create a resume right on your mobile device. ResumeBear is a great app that alerts users when their email resume is opened by its recipient. If you’re tired of looking through a dozen different job listing sites, Hire*a*Droid can help by organizing all major online job boards into a single standard format and allowing you to submit your resume right from the app.
Knowledge is power. Corny, but true. With the abundance of online courses, in addition to public libraries and trade publications, there is no shortage of information out there to expand your skillset and industry worth. The more you engage in these activities, the more you’ll know and the more you can add to your resume and LinkedIn profile. You can even share your newfound knowledge with others through social media and give employers direct insight into your dedication to professional development.
Every industry has organizations for networking and professional development. Whether you join an in-person group or become a regular commenter in a LinkedIn group, staying active while job searching gives employers yet another reason to trust your commitment and knowledge. The more people that know your name in a positive way, the more opportunities will be available and the more people will be willing to help you. If you can answer other’s questions or recommend jobs for them to apply to, they will be likely to return the favor in the future. In short, always be on the hunt, even when you are happy with your current job. You never know what offer might come your way.