Originally authored by Molly Powers at Ms. Career Girl
If you’re like 68% of Americans, you’ve probably made a New Year’s Resolution this year. For 42% of women, making a New Year’s Resolution is a promise to save more money in the new year. If you’re one of those women, saving more money may be changing your spending habits, but it might also take the form of a new job.
January is usually considered one of the best months to look for a job. Many companies have new money in their recruiting budgets to start finding new talent for open roles. This is especially true of senior roles, which most organizations attempt to fill in the first half of the year. However, it can be difficult to get your job materials in shape around the holidays, so sometimes a plan to start a new job in the new year turns to a new job by spring.
Luckily, there are a few easy actions you can take now to get your job search in shape for the new year (bonus, most of these tips can be done from your couch!).
Refocus your search
When you’re starting your job search, first consider what it is you are looking for in a new position. If you’ve been job hunting for a while, jobs and job listings can start to run together, and you may submit so many applications that your end up in something less than what you’re actually looking for. The beginning of the new year is a perfect opportunity to take a beat and consider what you’re actually looking for in a new position. What kind of company culture is right for? What roles allow you to thrive? Consider whether you’re a big picture person, or you love looking at details. Really getting a sense of how and where you like to work will help you be more targeted with your applications, and increases the chances that you’ll land a job you actually enjoy.
Expand your network
Many people use the new year as a time to take on a new challenge, join a new group, or learn a new skill, and you can do the same. Attending events, classes, or other activities can be a way to connect to new people who might know of available openings in your career niche. This is especially helpful if the groups you join are made up of people in your industry. Marketing, healthcare, sales, and many other industries have to meet ups in most cities, so do a little research to figure out how to best make new connections.
Spruce up your resume
The new year is a perfect time to take a look at the resume you’ve been using and give it a refresh. Look through your current resume. Are you using bullet points? Do those bullet points focus on accomplishments? Run through each job on your resume and remove any irrelevant details. If you have any new accomplishments or duties you’ve taken on since you last updated your resume, add those.
When you’re updating your resume, you should also take a moment to double check the formatting. Most online systems have the ability to scan your resume and pull details, so having it in an easily scannable format is key for the system to pull your relevant skills. A .docx or .pdf file is usually best, and you should avoid having a lot of graphics (unless you are applying to a graphic design position!).
Craft your cover letter
Writing a great cover letter is often one of the most difficult parts of of an application. If you’ve been using the same template letter, it’s time to review it and give it a refresh. Your cover letter is the best way to show a potential employer that you’re interested in their specific job, and allows you to illustrate how your previous work experience has prepared you to do a great job in the new opportunity.
One strategy is to write several sections that highlight various areas of your work, as well as a few different intros. That way, when you apply for a position, you can mix and match sections to more easily tailor your letter. You’ll still need to do some personalizing to make sure your letter makes sense, but you won’t be starting from scratch every time.
Follow up (politely)
Most people have been in a situation where they apply for a job and hear nothing. If you’re really interested in the position and can’t stand playing the waiting game, you can send one polite follow up email either a week or two weeks after you submit your application, but it’s best to avoid any aggressive follow up tactics like calling every day or showing up in person. In your email, you can reiterate your interest in the position, and politely inquire about their timeline if it seems appropriate.
The new year can be a great time to find a new job, and it’s an equally great time to examine your existing job search and see what’s working, what isn’t, and where you truly want to take your career next.