If your New Year’s resolution is to get the job you deserve, you are not alone. More than one in four employees (29%) said they are searching for jobs while employed, and 78% reported that they would be open to get a new job if the right opportunity came along, according to a 2019 survey of over 1,010 employees from employment website CareerBuilder.
January is one of the best times to start this hunt. Job posting service ZipRecruiter said that it sees more job postings in January than any other month of the year. To put yourself in the right position for that perfect opportunity, you need to start prepping now. HuffPost talked with experts to get their best tips on how job seekers can accelerate their job hunt this January.
1. Figure out the career story you want to tell.
“One of the most helpful things job seekers can do is to refine the narratives they share about themselves so that they feel compelling and authentic both to tell and to hear. This boosts job seekers’ confidence and capacity to land a satisfying job.
“I recommend that job seekers reach out to a variety of people in their network (people who know their work, people who share their values and interests, people whose career pathways appeal to them), and have conversations in which they share what they are looking for and ask for feedback. Asking questions like ‘If you were interviewing me, what would you pick up on?’, ‘What resonates for you in what I’m sharing about myself?‘, and ‘What’s something I can do to present myself more effectively?’ helps job seekers to understand how others see them and to incorporate the strengths that others notice into their narratives.” – Monique Valcour, executive coach
2. Focus more on networking than tweaking your résumé.
“People tend to get really into their documents, into the résumé and LinkedIn profiles. Yes, those should be relatively up-to-date, but assuming they are decent, focus first on talking to people.
“I would talk to friends, former colleagues, classmates, family friends, people who are either good at giving career advice, or good mentors or sponsors, or they have specific industry knowledge. I would tell them, ‘Oh, I’m trying to change jobs. This is my timeframe. What do I need to do first?’
“That can really lead to job offers, because people like to hire people that they like and that they know, or that they know somebody who vouched for them. Even having those very preliminary exploratory conversations can land you an offer faster than applying to a million job boards.” – Cynthia Pong, career coach and founder of Embrace Change
3. Make a list of companies you want to work for.
“The best way to accelerate your job search is to start with a plan. As simple as this sounds, it’s often overlooked. Identify a clear job target. What do you want to do? Next, create a list of 25-35 target companies that you’d want to work for who hire people for your target role.
“When you are building out your target list of companies, spend time evaluating your network looking for connectors. Who do you know at your target list of companies? Who can help you get an introduction?” – Sarah Johnston, former corporate recruiter and founder of Briefcase Coach
4. Use scheduling to make the job search a priority
“Block out some devoted job search time. Make this untouchable and stick to executing during the assigned time.
“Make it clear to family or friends that this is protected time by either setting aside the time on family calendars or not responding to emails, engaging on social media or taking calls or texts during this time. If you must give up the time, reschedule it immediately for that week if possible.” – Lisa Orbé-Austin, licensed psychologist and co-founder of Dynamic Transitions Psychological Consulting
5. Target your job search so your application materials are specific.
“Pinpoint what you want to do next in your career. Job-seekers who are unclear about what their next career move spend more time in the job search process.
“The more specific you are in your job search, the better. A targeted job search allows you to focus your résumé, LinkedIn profile, and even your cover letter so that you are more likely to catch the attention of recruiters and hiring managers. You will also be able to successfully navigate applicant tracking systems because your résumé will be full of keywords that accurately match the industry and position.” – Gala Jackson, career transition and leadership coach
6. Don’t discount acquaintances. They could lead you to a new opportunity.
“The new year is a great time to reflect on close relationships and explore ways to make meaningful connections. If you’re looking to evolve your career in 2020, it’s important to examine current networks — both personal and professional — and identify opportunities to make introductions that will aid in your growth.
“Especially for professionals of color who have traditionally been left out of workplace opportunities due to larger societal barriers to entry, it is extremely important to lean on these networks. In addition to leveraging your professional network, ask close friends, family members and neighbors for warm introductions. It’s very possible an acquaintance could become an impactful mentor, or lead you to an opportunity you never thought possible.” – Porter Braswell, CEO of Jopwell
Answers have been edited or condensed for clarity.