New Year’s Resolutions for Job Seekers

If your #1 goal for the new year is to land a new job, there is nothing better than starting your new year’s resolutions a month early to help you achieve that goal.

To land your desired job in the new year, you should resolve to:

  • Create a plan – You can’t get there if you don’t know where you are going.  Define your goals and a specific plan to achieve those goals.  Assess your skills, strengths and interests.  Think about the type of work you enjoyed even it was in internships, part-time jobs or even volunteer experiences.  Document your plan and measure your progress against it.  Set weekly goals and hold yourself accountable.  Reward yourself by doing something you enjoy once you’ve accomplished your weekly goals.

More resolutions here!

Job Trends in the New Year

For those planning to seek a new job in the New Year, where are the best places to look?  It is hard to identify a specific industry since companies within the same industry are recovering at different rates.  There are some key areas for opportunities in the year ahead:

Small and Mid-Sized Companies – It is easy to assume that there are more jobs in the largest companies but in reality there is more hiring in the small to mid-sized companies and these are the organizations that will be leading the recovery.  Do your research to identify smaller organizations in your target industry and location.  Smaller companies are often looking for a broader set of skills.  They don’t hire someone to do one very specific thing, they need strategic thinkers who can grow and change with the company.  Project management, strong communications skills, the ability to work across functional areas and the ability to change directions quickly are critical in this environment.

Supply Chain – Jobs in this field continue to be hot.  Whether it is in procurement, operations, transportation or logistics, these skills are in demand.  While once found only in manufacturing environments, we are seeing a significant increase in demand for supply chain knowledge and experience in financial services, healthcare, retail, and distribution and technology organizations.  Often effective management of the supply chain is one of the few areas for companies to still identify savings and efficiencies.

Marketing – In many organizations, the marketing staff was hard hit during the economic downturn.  We are seeing many firms investing in their marketing functions again.  Skills in the new technologies are critical – web marketing, social media, etc.  Product management and brand management are also critical needs.  We are seeing an increased demand for marketing analytics for market research, consumer insights and timely information to make business decisions.

Finance – The biggest demand we are seeing for finance professionals in the corporate finance world.  Companies of all sizes need to close the books every month, plan, implement and monitor the budget, analyze the results and support business decisions.  Strong financial skills are still in strong demand.

Across functions we are seeing increased demand for strong analytical skills, communications skills, project management, working with teams and negotiation and persuasion skills.  You often need people in other parts of the organization to do something in order to meet your deadlines without having any authority over them.  Negotiation and persuasion skills can make or break your success in many organizations.

The New Year is also the perfect time to commit or recommit yourself to your search.  Here are some suggested resolutions.

Networking Over the Holidays

The holidays were made for networking.  Take advantage of the holiday season to expand your network and to reconnect with contacts.

Make Networking a Priority — Many managers have a bit of breathing room around the holidays if their job doesn’t require significant year end activity.  Their phones ring less often, they receive fewer emails and they are in fewer meetings since many colleagues and customers take time off.  Take advantage of this opportunity to significantly ramp up your networking.  Identify contacts in your target companies.  Reach out to them and ask to meet over a cup of coffee.  They are more likely to take the meeting when things are quiet.  This is an outstanding opportunity to make more connections in a short period of time.  Use the opportunity to make key connections in the companies you are most interested in as a future employer.  Set networking goals for yourself each week and hold yourself accountable.

Low Hanging Fruit – No everyone enjoys networking but it critical to career success.  Take advantage of the many social events during the holidays to network in a friendly and safe environment.  The holidays bring low hanging fruit – family gatherings, celebrations with friends, social events with professional associations and even the office holiday party.  With little effort, you can meet a large number of interesting people over the holidays.

Prepare for Opportunities – The key advantage of all this yearend networking is that employers have new positions approved with the start of the new year.  Maybe the person you met with will have a need and will remember the positive impression you made.  Maybe the position is in another part of the organization but your contact can forward your resume with a note of recommendation.  Maybe you will even be given a heads up about a position that will be opening soon.  While the formal hiring process may slow down a bit with key players on vacation it is a critical time to move your search forward with some strategic networking.

Office Gift Giving

Image Via Google

One of the challenges of the holiday season is knowing who to get gifts for and what is appropriate.  This can be particularly challenging in the workplace.  A few words of advice:

Know the culture – If you are new to the organization ask your colleagues about what past experience has been.  Does the team buy a group gift for the boss, does the team exchange gifts, is there a group event, etc.  It is important to know what others do so you don’t stand out on the extreme end either positively or negatively.  If you are the only person to bring the boss a gift, others will think you are “sucking up.”  If you are the only one without a gift for the boss, you will feel conspicuously absent.  Go with the flow.  Some organizations have official policies prohibiting or limiting gift giving so be sure to know the environment.

When in doubt, be conservative.  This is not a time for extravagance which could make people feel uncomfortable.  Bring something homemade to share – a plate of special cookies, your special fudge, etc. with a note.  You can’t go wrong sharing a bit of yourself. If you don’t bake, pick up a special treat to share with your colleagues.   If you have a hobby or craft that you enjoy outside of working hours, it is appropriate to share something you made.  The personal touch often means a great deal to people at the holidays. 

Participate cheerfully – If you are participating in the office Yankee Swap or other gift exchange, have fun with it.  Participation shows you are part of the team.  Have fun and be creative but remember it is professional environment.  Be sure you gift is in good taste and won’t offend the participants.

Spirit of Giving — Gift giving should be a choice not an obligation.  Sometimes time together outside of the office is most valuable.  I look forward to taking my team out for a holiday lunch.  It gives us all a chance to unwind and enjoy each other’s company without talking shop.  It is a perfect opportunity to say thank you to the team for their work in the past year.  Gifts don’t always come gift-wrapped with a bow. 

Show Appreciation – Most typical office gift giving is the boss showing special appreciation to their personal assistant.  It is a great way to say thank you.  The boss should know the person well enough to give something they will enjoy and appreciate.  Do you know their favorite restaurant or store for a gift certificate?  Don’t under-estimate the power of a card and a personal note.  The holidays are a perfect time to let someone know they’ve made a difference in your life in the past year.

 

Job Searching at Year End

At this point it is very tight to find a new job by the end of the year but it is the perfect time of year to make significant progress.

Timing is Everything – This could be the best time of year to be looking.  Many companies have new budget years starting January 1 and those often include budget approval for new positions.  Hiring freezes often expire at the end of the year as well.  It is not unusual to see a flurry of hiring early in the new year for new positions and replacement hires.  More than other times of the year, there are often multiple positions open in the same timeframe.

Make Time for Planning – There are a number of things you can do in the next month to be well-positioned to take advantage of those openings the first of the year.  Define your plan – Identify target companies and research them.  Use your alumni networks, Linked In and other tools to identify contacts at your target companies.  Research the roles you are interested in and the qualifications for those positions.

Image Courtesy of GoogleNetwork, Network, Network – For many professionals, there is some quieter time at work around the holidays.  Unless they are closing the books for the year or involved in a significant time constrained project, this is an easier time of year to get on someone’s calendar for an informational interview.  Take advantage of this to network like crazy.  Talk to as many people as you can in your target companies to learn more about the companies, their hiring practices and the skills sets they seek.  Talk to people in the roles that interest you.

Leverage your personal networks – This is the season of many holiday get-togethers with family and friends.  Be sure people know you are looking and what you are looking for.  They may have contacts you can utilize.

A productive December of research, planning and networking could position you for great success in January when positions open up.

Laid Off During the Holidays

Laid off at the holidays?  Of course you are upset, frustrated, disappointed, maybe even scared.  It is tempting to say, “it’s the holiday’s, I’ll start looking in January.”  Even though you may not want to jump into the job search, you can’t miss this great opportunity to jump start the process so you are well positioned for success in the new year.

Get rid of the anger or negative feelings or at least put them aside.  Focus on what you want to do and how you will sell yourself.  This isn’t a personal failure, it is an economic reality.  Try to focus your energy on your next opportunity.

Timing is Everything —This could be the best time of year to be looking.  Many companies have new budget years starting January 1 and those often include budget approval for new positions.  Hiring freezes often expire at the end of the year as well.  It is not unusual to see a flurry of hiring early in the new year for new positions and replacement hires.  More than other times of the year, there are often multiple positions open in the same timeframe.  It can also be a great time for networking.

Prepare for Success —There are a number of things you can do in the next month to be well-positioned to take advantage of those openings the first of the year.

  • Define your plan – Identify target companies and research them.  Use your alumni networks, Linked In and other tools to identify contacts at your target companies.  Research the roles you are interested in and the qualifications for those positions.
  • Network, Network, Network – For many professionals, there is some quieter time at work around the holidays.  Unless they are closing the books for the year or involved in a significant time constrained project, this is an easier time of year to get on someone’s calendar for an informational interview.  Take advantage of this to network like crazy.  Talk to as many people as you can in your target companies to learn more about the companies, their hiring practices and the skills sets they seek.  Talk to people in the roles that interest you. 
  • Maintain contact with your network.  Ask each contact for other people you can talk to.  Always follow-up and say thank you.  Keep them posted on your progress.
  • Identify key professional groups for your target roles and attend events this month.  Many will have holiday gatherings which are a great opportunity to make a lot of contacts.

Leverage your Personal Networks – This is the season of many holiday get-togethers with family and friends.  Be sure people know you are looking and what you are looking for.  They may have contacts you can utilize.

A productive December of research, planning and networking could position you for great success in January when positions open up.  Resist the temptation to take the month of December off.  Do your homework now so you are prepared for success in the new year.  Set targets for yourself and monitor your progress.  Be sure to celebrate your success.  Take a walk or visit with a friend if you’ve achieved your job search targets for the week.