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new year job search

Why does “the New Year” seem so monumental? Can we all just agree that, realistically, it’s just another day in the life? But I guess we humans like definitive beginnings and endings to things. We certainly embrace the idea of getting through to year end, over the holiday hump and starting a new calendar page with renewed energy.

If you’re looking to land your first job or your next job, or start off on a new career adventure, here are five things you can to do to reinvigorate your job search:

Google yourself.

Really. Do it. I just did it myself. You might be surprised by what turns up.

Unless you’re dead- well, especially if you’re dead- there is probably some record of your existence on the internet. Surveys of recruiters and hiring managers report these job gatekeepers often go first to candidate Google listings and LinkedIn pages, before they even get through the résumé. You really need to keep current on what they are going to find there.

If Google turns up listings that reflect you negatively, try these tactics to repair your online presence.

Scrub your social media.

There’s so much buzz trending in human resources right now about “Personal Branding” and “Culture Fit.” Employers are trying to learn all they can about who they are hiring, beyond skill sets, education and work experience. Hiring the wrong person is costly and time consuming. Searching for the “real person” behind the résumé is understandable.

While requesting access to candidates’ private social media accounts fell quickly out of favor, employers are still checking the sites to see what they can learn about prospective hires.  We hear it time and again … “be mindful of what you post to social media,” and “never assume anything is private.” So. Easy. To. Ignore.

Social media really offers a huge opportunity to style yourself however you want; to present your best self. But you can’t be passive or careless in your use; take control of your social accounts and use them as tools.

Do this:

– Be careful with privacy settings. Sometimes they can change and reset to default without you realizing it. It’s a good idea to check settings regularly to make sure you are sharing your content with whom you think you are sharing it.
– It’s a hassle, but consider creating separate work and personal accounts. Like it or not, social media use, especially Facebook, is assumed, and many people use it as a communication tool for group discussions, events and networking. If you don’t use a Twitter or Facebook account for personal use, you may want to create a presence for work use only.
– LinkedIn is for professional networking. Keep it that way. LinkedIn users get annoyed when others post content that is not in some way business-related. And total strangers will call you out on it!

Throw out your old résumé and start fresh.

We live in an increasingly visually-dynamic world. If your résumé and cover letter features lines and lines of black on white, it’s got “boring” written all over it. I’ve seen résumés that I dreaded the second I laid eyes on the seemingly endless sea of words.

Do this:

-Search online for résumé templates you can download. There are plenty of free ones out there. Paid ones are cheap and a bit better. Check out the new templates from Moo for MSWord. These are innovative examples of modern, easy-on-the-eye designs.
-Unless you are in a highly-technical field with solid measurable outcomes, keep your résumé short and sweet.
-Use color, but sparingly.
-Leave some white space.
-Stay away from cutesy, hard-to-read fonts.
-Post your snazzy new résumé on LinkedIn, and keep it fresh even after you land your new job. You never who’s out there looking for you.

The cover letter is everything.

I cannot say this enough. DO NOT start your cover letter with “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is ____________. I am a _________ with experience in ____________. I am a good fit for ___________ because ____________.”

It takes time and effort but each résumé you send should have a unique cover letter tailored to each job. Your first sentence should be captivating. It should make your future employers need to read more. Once they’re hooked, tell your story- what you have achieved and how your experience leads to this job. If you can’t muster up the passion to present yourself this way, perhaps this job is not for you.

Invest in business cards and stylish portfolio and paper products.

Many companies offer the convenience of uploading materials online, either through LinkedIn, job boards or the company website. But, it’s really easy for these application materials to get lost among the masses of applicants. Presenting a concise, well-designed résumé, cover letter and work samples in a well-styled packet can draw attention to your application. Moo and Vistaprint are affordable sites for high-quality, affordable paper products. You can use their templates or design your own.

Show your future employers that you understand that presentation matters, and that you care enough about the job to go the extra mile to earn their interest.

Summing it up

It’s too easy to get into a rut when you’ve been on the hunt for a while. You don’t have to reinvent yourself, but you should reinvigorate your career quest regularly. Now is the perfect time to harness the energy of the New Year mindset to spice up your self-presentation and position yourself to be the next new hire.