New Year New Career: 12 Resolutions to Optimize Your Job Search

Just about everyone who has ever been on the market for a new job knows how monotonous and discouraging the search can be. If you’re employed but uninspired by your work, the drudgery of the search can keep you in a stagnant or disengaging role much longer than you’d otherwise stay. Worse, if you’re unemployed, repeated rejections can chip away at your self-esteem, leaving you dejected. No more. Two-thousand sixteen is a fresh start. It is the year of YOU.

The new year is a time to reflect on where you’re at, where you’d like to be, and what steps you need to take to get there. These twelve new year's resolutions will light a fire under your job search to get you to a career you love.

[bctt tweet="12 #NewYearsResolutions to Optimize Your #JobSearch in 2016, by @zimmerbugg"]

12 Resolutions to Optimize Your Job Search:

1. Resolve to give your personal brand a facelift

In the same way that a company’s branding involves everything from their website and ads to their customer service, your personal brand is the sum total of your expertise, value-adds, and interactions as a professional.

Much to the dismay of some job seekers, your digital brand is a big part of this. Data from Jobvite’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey shows that 93% of hiring managers will review a candidate’s social profiles before making a hiring decision—for some, before inviting them to interview. Clearly, this means you don’t want photos from your college frat party littering the Google image search, but you can leverage digital platforms to your advantage. How? By selecting platforms purposefully and using them to tell a comprehensive story about what drives you. Just getting started with digital branding? Use these tips on How to Build a Personal Brand From Scratch as a guide.

If possible, broadcast your job search on LinkedIn by sharing your goal in your tagline or opening summary. Startup Institute instructor and former Director of Community Trish Fontanilla does it right—telling us that she is a passionate person, an expert in her field and, of course, available. We can attest to all of this.

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 5.05.11 PMEdit: A bonus tip from Trish. Once you publish your availability in your tagline, she recommends sharing useful links with your LinkedIn followers at least three times a week. Two reasons:

  1. It's helpful.
  2. More exposure for that headline.

Word to the wise: if you're working one role while searching for another, keep the broadcasting to a minimum.[bctt tweet="If possible, broadcast your #jobsearch on LinkedIn w/ goal in the tagline, says @zimmerbugg"]

2. Resolve to attend at least two networking events a month

We’ve dropped this stat once or twice, but it bears repeating—70% of jobs are found through networking.

What does this mean? It means that the solo job search doesn’t work. This is good news—it means you can get off of your computer and out into the world. Meet people who are doing interesting things. Find what piques your curiosity and dig in. Ask questions. Find out how you can learn more, if you can get an introduction, if there are other events you should attend.[bctt tweet="#JobSeekers—Expand your #network. Dig into things that pique your interest, says @zimmerbugg"]

If you’re more of an introvert and this all sounds terrible, not to worry. Good networking—the right kind of networking—isn’t about making small talk at crowded events. It’s about making meaningful connections. Quality far trumps quantity. Seek industry events or hackathons that allow you to work on a project or skill set, rather than collecting business cards. You can also ask current professional connections to make introductions for you if you prefer not to avoid events altogether. This article on the habits of successful networkers has great tips for powerful one-on-one networking.[bctt tweet="#Introverts can be good at #networking too—seek events that focus on skill-building, not biz cards."]

3. Resolve to cast a smaller net

This may seem counterintuitive, but hear me out. I’ve been there—scouring Indeed and Monster and Ideally for roles I’d qualify for (or maybe qualify for, or was definitely over-qualified), sending out a steady stream of résumés and cover letters into the cyber-abyss. This, also, does not work.

Pull in the reins on your job search. Pursue only opportunities that truly inspire you. Why? Because you’re leaving (/have left) your current role for a reason. Being thoughtful and purposeful about your next steps will help you find your way to the right next steps. Furthermore, getting a job offer for a company that you truly care about doesn’t happen on accident. You need to be able to give that extra umph for a role you really want, but if you’ve already burnt yourself out on endless lesser-opportunities, will you have that umph in you?

Save your energy for the right opportunities, and then get ready to fight the good fight.[bctt tweet="Save your energy for the job opps that inspire you to give the extra umph, says @zimmerbugg"]

4. Resolve to tailor your messaging

When you do find that right opportunity, you need to pull out all the stops. This means revising your résumé with each new application.

A great recent hire here at Startup Institute was almost passed on because his résumé did not reflect the experience we were looking for. Upon further inquiry, we learned that his experience was highly relevant, and that he’d worked with the key platforms that we use internally. It was lucky for all parties involved that we'd decided to follow up; most people won't get so lucky.

If a job description was posted, use the language in the post as a guideline for the kinds of keywords and experiences that you should highlight. In the absence of a job description, research similar roles and see what language is used. Adjust the sequencing of your bullet points in order of relevancy to the role you’re applying for.

Your LinkedIn profile, of course, may not be able to be tailored to each individual job application. Instead, tailor it to your dream job.[bctt tweet="Resolve to customize your résumé for each new application, says @zimmerbugg"]

5. Resolve to learn a new skill-set

Show me a hiring manager who doesn’t salivate over the initiative to learn and I’ll show you… I don’t know where I’m going with this but it isn’t anywhere good.

According to our research, 92% of business executives believe that culture skills are as important, if not more important, than technical skills. One of the most valued culture skills that they identify is the desire to learn (to no surprise, this is also one of the reasons our hiring partners say they love our graduates—they’re lifelong learners).

You may not have every skill that they’re looking for in a qualified candidate, but your curiosity and drive to grow say more about your potential than a potentially static skill set. Highlight your own desire to learn by taking a course or participating in industry skill-shares.[bctt tweet="Showing that you're a #lifelonglearner will give you an edge in the #jobsearch, says @zimmerbugg"]

6. Resolve to publish thought-pieces (+ go viral)

This resolution is two-fold. First, by developing compelling content that’s relevant to the kind of role you’re targeting, you not only highlight your expertise but show potential employers that you’re passionate about the topic (no surprise here—”passion” is another one of the leading culture skills sited in our research) and driven to stretch your intellectual muscles around it.

Don’t want to start a blog? That’s fine. Publish content on LinkedIn or Medium where cadence and consistency is less important and organic readership easy to find (on the immediate, anyhow).[bctt tweet="Showing passion + flexing your intellectual muscles will get the attention of hiring managers"]

The second big idea here is to promote your work. Alumnus Jeremy Rieunier did this with his Medium post How to Hack the Job Hunt, published shortly after completing our full-time program. His tactic for getting the attention of hiring managers was ingenious—at once scrappy, creative, and showcasing his growth-hacking skills. But, his promotion of the blog post by reaching out to influencers in advance to generate interest around the piece set it on fire.

7. Resolve to refine your elevator pitch

Refine your 30-second pitch about what you’re looking for, what you can bring to bear at a new job, and how someone can easily help you (e.g. by making an intro, or suggesting a company they have heard is hiring). If you can be clear and concise about what you’re looking for, people can mentally map how your search might overlap with opportunities they’ve heard about. Share your elevator pitch with the world—both for practice and to get as many people on your case as possible.[bctt tweet="Have a 30-sec #elevatorpitch w/ what you're looking for + how someone can help, says @zimmerbugg #jobhunt"]

8. Resolve to organize your search

If you’re an active job seeker, then you’re likely juggling a lot of moving parts. You need to keep track of opportunities, manage relationships, do research, submit résumés and cover letters, prepare for interviews, send thank you notes, follow-up on the status of your application a week later, and perhaps a couple more times after that.

This new year, resolve to find a systematic approach to your job search that works for you. A recent alumnus from our sales and account management track, José Luis Ramos, wrote a creative and informative article on how he’s applied his new understandings of relationship management in sales to his network building and job search efforts.

Whether it’s using a CRM, a simple spreadsheet, or email-tracking software, find a method that is useful and sustainable for you  To learn more about how José used a free CRM to organize his search, read his post: How to Build and Manage Your Personal Network Using the Principles of Customer Relationship Management.[bctt tweet="Use a spreadsheet, CRM, or email-tracking software to organize your #jobsearch, says @zimmerbugg"]

9. Resolve to help others with their searches

Searching for a new job can be demoralizing. Help someone else find a job they love and, I promise you that your spirits will soar.

The phenomenon is called the “helper’s high,” named by psychologists at Emory University who study generosity. When you are kind to another person, your brain's pleasure and reward centers light up, as if you were the recipient of the good deed—not the giver.

Helping someone else find a great fit is a great thing to do, and it will make you feel great in return.[bctt tweet="Resolve to help someone else find a job they love in 2016, says @zimmerbugg #payitforward"]

10. Resolve to help others with their projects

Again, helping feels great. But, helping is allowed to be mutually-beneficial. Offer your services on a project that interests you. This experience will help you to determine if this type of assignment is something that you’d like to continue to pursue. Maybe it will even end up being a résumé-builder or portfolio piece. Maybe it will even turn into a job.

11. On the topic of being helpful, resolve to volunteer

Giving back can work wonders for your career. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, volunteers have a 27% higher likelihood of finding employment after being out of work than non-volunteers. At the same time, volunteering can help you build new skills, expand your network, maintain healthy stress levels, and build self-esteem. Need more convincing? Check out these five reasons why volunteering will boost your career.[bctt tweet="Giving back can work wonders for your career, says @zimmerbugg #volunteer #newyearnewcareer"]

12. Resolve to take care of yourself

Looking for the right job can take months, and it can get even more disheartening if you forget to take care of yourself with regular exercise, healthy eating and the occasional celebration of all your hard work. Remember, you will find a job. Once you do, all of the work will be worth it. The healthier and happier you are, the better you will perform in the job search and interview process.

Establish healthy habits and routines that will help you to be effective in your search on a day-to-day basis and achieve your goals.[bctt tweet="The #jobsearch can be tough. Resolve to take care of yourself, says @zimmerbugg #newyearnewcareer"]

What are you waiting for? This year could be your year to find a job you love. We hope these tips will help you to find new direction and purpose in your job search. And, if you think you're ready to make the ultimate leap in pursuit of a career you're truly passionate about, take a look at our full-time program (only those serious about career change need apply). Download your free program guide to learn more.

Photo credit: Flazingo Photos via Flickr cc