This is part three of our three-part post-holiday season job search series. Read part one and part two here.
So you have had your New Year’s kiss and you need to find a new job soon if you expect to ever pay off your student loans. Job hunting can be stressful, especially when it is imperative that you make a move now.
To lessen the load, we asked hiring and recruitment professionals to share tips to help boost the effectiveness of our readers’ job searching, so they can work smarter, not harder. Here is what their advice.
Focus your search
“I think the best thing that you can do to find a job in the new year is to job hunt smart. The number one thing I hear from people is how many applications they've filled out and how many jobs they have applied to. Just because you're applying everywhere, doesn't mean you're doing the right thing. Instead of blindly filling out applications, focus on the jobs and industries you actually want to apply for. We work with thousands of employers and the reason they are hesitant to look at all the applications they receive online, is because most people apply to any job they see online.
Use websites that filter applicants for employers, making both of your
lives easier … When you do this, you also won't be as tired and burned out while filling out the applications.” — Ladan Davia, Founder and CEO, Beeya
Narrow your skill gaps
“Identify skill gaps to address in the New Year. Maybe your goal is to get a new job or elevate yourself to the next level, but you lack certain skill sets needed to do so. Spend this time researching job descriptions that match your ideal role. Look at the top qualifications and determine which ones you may be lacking or need in order to be competitive. Consider ways you can work towards building these in the first quarter, whether that’s asking for additional responsibility in your current role, taking outside courses, or online workshops, or perhaps even going back for a degree program. Spending the time now to research and plan out your strategy will make position you more competitively in 2019.” — Dana Leavy-Detrick, Director, Brooklyn Resume Studio
Use online tools and resources
“The first thing to do is to make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile are current and up to date. The next thing is to set up job alerts so you can know once a job is posted that aligns with your career interests.” — Tiffany Gibson, Creator of “Get the Job” app, Career coach/ integrative life coach and blogger, Get the Job App
Research target companies and build a lead list
“Research companies and study the job description. Filter out all the companies or job positions you wish to apply to. Study the job descriptions carefully to look for any red flags — like some specific skills they want which you are not adept in but might cause you difficulty later on, or if you could develop these skills through some short certification course. Other than this, study about the companies you are going to target to better understand their business verticals and market horizontals and how you think your role could fit into the organizational objectives. This process will also help you be better prepared for any telephone interviews if you happen to receive calls from companies in the future.” — Ketan Kapoor, Co-Founder and CEO, Mettl
“Use the ‘downtime’ (the weeks leading up the holidays and New Year) to do your research. Look into companies of interest to see what kind of roles they’ve hired in the last year, what openings they currently have, and to learn about their culture. Having a short-list of companies that interest you will help you prepare your applications in advance so they’re ready to send out after the holiday season wraps up.
Create a short-list of prospective job opportunities. The end of December is not the ideal time to respond to job postings, as hiring moves slowly, and many people involved in the decision making progress are on vacation. Particularly if it’s a high priority role, spend the weeks
leading up to the holidays identifying your top 10 positions to apply to, and crafting an impactful resume and cover letter tailored to each one. Then get ready to submit them after the holiday. While it is a risk to wait it out, there’s also a good chance that submitting your application during the holiday rush will cause it to get overlooked or lost in the shuffle." — Dana Leavy-Detrick, Director, Brooklyn Resume Studio
“Try to brush up on industry knowledge and build a lead list of companies and contacts that you can reach out to after the holidays. Just because the holidays slows down interview process doesn't mean you can't make progress on your search." — Jordan Wan, Founder and CEO, CloserIQ
Ready your resume
"Get your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile in order. Do a quick audit of your personal brand — everything that is public facing to hiring managers — and make sure it’s consistent and effective. That can include everything from your resume and cover letter, to your LinkedIn profile, website, social profiles, even your appearance in the job interview. The goal is to make sure you are speaking to the roles you’re targeting (versus the role you have), and that you are presenting yourself consistently across all platforms." — Dana Leavy-Detrick, Director, Brooklyn Resume Studio
“A lot of businesses are on a reset mode and thinking of growth and expansion in the new year. These companies are on the hunt to hire new people to meet the new perspectives and business expectations for increased success and revenue for the next year. A lot of actions and plans are finally set into motion at the time of new year and hiring is certainly on the minds of a lot of companies. You have to hone your skills and craft a convincing resume and cover letter mentioning your key skills, education, experience, and recognition and upload them on relevant platforms. Don’t forget to add the right number and frequency of keywords to your curriculum vitae to immediately rank higher as a great candidate on the radar of top companies. The keywords must be highly relevant to your industry and market niche which you can also search on the internet.” — Ketan Kapoor, Co-Founder and CEO, Mettl
Use free tools
“Leverage LinkedIn during your job search. It's a great platform to not only connect with recruiters and hiring managers but also to connect with employees at the companies you're interested in working at. Set up informational interviews and learn about what it's like working at your dream company.“ —Kyle Elliott, MPA, CHES, Career and life coach, Kyle Elliott Consulting
“According to US News, 95 percent of recruiters utilize LinkedIn as a major sourcing tool to find candidates — and it's free to create a profile on the site. Make sure you have a clear heading, professional picture and a keyword rich summary.
Think beyond job boards. A highly effective job search involves real world networking and informational interviews. When clients tell me that their job search is stalling, one of the first questions I ask as a follow up is, how are your in-person networking meetings?” —Sarah Johnston, Job search strategist and founder, The Briefcase Coach
Use the end-of-the-year slow down to your advantage
“My top tips for people who are unemployed during the holiday season or who are looking to make a career change right away in the new year is to take advantage of downtime and days off to work on your job search, but hold off on sending emails and applications until at least Christmas is over.
Definitely send before the New Year, however, since HR departments are likely looking for new talent to bring on right away in January. Spend time on your days off researching different companies, tailoring your resume to different positions, and updating your portfolio if you have one. It’s also a great time to practice for your interviews, either with family members who are willing to help you out or on a platform like Pramp.
Apply to the most recently posted jobs first, as these could be new positions that have gone up since departments have reviewed their end-of-the-year needs and are looking to grab new people for the start of 2019.” — Valerie Streif, Senior Content Manager, Pramp
Timing and balance
“When heading into the holiday season, employees need to find balance when searching for a new job, while also enjoying their holiday break. Many people know that searching for a new job is a full-time job. If at all possible, employees seeking a new job should only make themselves available to do phone interviews or screening interviews before the holidays kick off.
This will alleviate the candidate from stress by completing the first interview before the holiday, so it is not hanging over their head during the holidays. Similar to the interview candidates, hiring managers are not going to be interviewing over the holidays. It is important for candidates to leave a lasting impression so the hiring managers remember them when returning to work after the holidays.
Employees should stay on top of their current work while also having a strong follow up for the prospective jobs that they are applying for.” — Jacob Dayan, Esq., CEO and co-founder, Community Tax
When to send
“An encouraging piece of information I have is that January may be a slow month for companies, but the silver lining is that hiring managers are looking at a fresh new year and have a strong sense of what jobs they need to be filled. However, while it may be tempting to get started sending resumes and cover letters starting January 1, my advice is to hold off for a bit. Give managers a chance to recover from the holidays first. If you send your application too early, it may get lost in the massive amount of email collected over the break. Wait two weeks and then start submitting applications. This will keep your application fresh in the minds of hiring managers and put you in a good position to receive an interview/offer in the first quarter.” — Matt Dodgson, Director, Market Recruitment
Coping with your job hunt
“First, remember that you are not alone in the job search. Try to find, or form, an online or in-person support group. Create time to meet up with fellow job hunters to discuss strategies and potentially share or discover opportunities.
Secondly, create incentives and reward yourself. If you're unemployed while job hunting, your budget will certainly be tight. It's important, though, to stay motivated through little rewards. Say you gave up your daily Starbucks habit. If you hit your goal for number of quality job applications submitted, or you get an interview, treat yourself to that latte that's been calling you. You deserve it.” — Matt Dodgson, Director, Market Recruitment