What is the new year, if not a blank slate? It’s a chance to reset your thinking and turn potential into reality. In addition to any personal resolutions you may have, it could also be time to take a new approach to your professional life. So even before you get done posting the photos from your New Year’s Eve party, it’s time to begin looking at what you can do to score a great new job for your fresh start.
1. Make a wish list.
This is not the list you had when you were a kid, when your ideal careers may have included a job that was a hybrid of astronaut, President of the United States, and professional puppy cuddler. (Maybe that was just my list?) This is you looking at your experience, skills, and goals logically to figure out what comes next. Be as specific as possible—if there are certain companies you’d like to target, don’t be shy. This list is for you, and turns vague notions into a concrete set of starting points.
2. Shore up your network.
Once you start the job search, you may need introductions or recommendations on short notice. Take the year-end time to reach out to former colleagues or acquaintances who are related to your wish list jobs or companies. That cup of coffee or friendly email chain could translate into great opportunities or support in the new year.
3. Educate yourself.
If any jobs on your wish list are a bit of a stretch, skill-wise, that’s easily fixable. If there are classes that can help you build those skills, fantastic—sign up ASAP. If not, assign yourself some self-study. Set aside time during the week to look into the areas where you need some help, and spend that time doing online research or reaching out to people (via social media or websites) who could help you get more information and build those skills.
4. Build your public brand.
Even if you don’t want it known that you’re fishing around for a new job, you can do some discreet social media scrubbing and updating on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. to better position yourself for your goal jobs. Revise your profiles to show the strengths or themes you want your target companies/industry to see.
5. Keep killing it at your current job.
If you’re looking for a new job—especially if you’re not totally satisfied with your current one—it can be tempting to slack off a bit while you look for new opportunities. Don’t give in to this temptation! No matter how “done” you feel, try to be more proactive about taking on responsibilities. This could be an organic way to enhance skills you may need later, but also make sure you keep a stellar reputation.
Your current boss and colleagues’ last impression of you shouldn’t be a memory of a slacker with one foot out the door. This will not lead to glowing references, and you never know when you’ll come across any of these people again. If Disney is right, it’s a small world after all, so make sure you keep those bridges in fine working order instead of burning them.
January and February are the annual hot spot for job changes, so the more you can do to hit the ground running, the better off you’ll be.
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