As 2016 rings in, we look at the new year’s resolutions we set and tell ourselves this year we will be productive – we will stick to our goals and make positive changes to our lives.
Before we know it, February hits us with another wave of holiday lull celebrating the Lunar New Year, which brings us close to the end of the quarter.
So if career advancement is one of the items on your to-do list, there is no time for procrastination.
Here are some tips for jobseekers who are looking to jump-start the year and land their dream job.
1. Revamp your CV. Your CV is usually the first opportunity you have to impress your prospective employer, so make sure the basics are right – easy to read, well structured and without spelling mistakes.
Update your CV with any new employment, skills and, most importantly, your most recent achievements.
Based on your research into your desired role, include relevant keywords to increase your chance to be shortlisted.
This is because, on average, hiring managers spend only 30 seconds on one CV.
For example, if you are in technology, including an updated summary of your IT skills (e.g. C++, Java, HTML) can catch the attention of hiring managers on the spot.
Since it is a competitive job market, demonstrate clearly how your unique skills and experiences are beneficial to that particular employer.
More creative professionals are beginning to use infographics and visual résumés to present information in new and interesting ways.
2. Review your career path. Ask yourself if you are working in the industry you desire.
Before you rush into your job search, take time to think about your career goals to ensure you are moving toward your dream.
Consult a mentor who can advise and coach you along the path.
Investigate the career path other esteemed professionals have taken to reach their position – LinkedIn is a good tool for this.
Additionally, find out how you need to upskill in the new year to inch closer each quarter to your goal.
3. Research companies you would like to work for. You can start looking for companies that fit your criteria after you have clearly identified your goal.
Often, businesses like to advertise roles on their websites before resorting to job boards.
Research the company history, look at its social presence to get a sense of the brand, ask employees from the company whom you may know through a personal connection if you can – take them for coffee and ask about the company culture — or reach out to a recruitment consultant who specializes in that sector and possibly works with the employer as a client.
Ultimately, the more information you are able to acquire about a potential employer, the better positioned you are at interviews.
4. Sign up to regular job alerts. Be the first to know about new opportunities by following your target companies online, signing up to their newsletters and job alerts.
Keeping abreast of their company news will also help you impress your interviewers.
5. Write targeted cover letters. Instead of sending a generic cover letter, think about each individual role you apply for and how the responsibilities and qualifications required match your skills and expertise.
Quantify your accomplishments – “achieved a 20 percent sales increase” certainly stands out more than “increased sales revenue significantly”.
6. Practice your interview skills. Before your interview, take time to review the job description and how the responsibilities of the role reflect your past experience.
Role-play or practice – being prepared will help you remain confident and secure your dream job.
7. Promote your personal brand through social media and professional networking channels. It is important to note that if your Facebook profile is open to the public, this includes recruiters as well as prospective employers.
Take time to thoroughly go through your social channels to ensure your personal brand is reflected in a positive and professional manner.
Use professional networking sites like LinkedIn – update your profile and connect with like-minded individuals in your industry.
You can also demonstrate your passion by writing or sharing industry-related news on networking platforms.
If you are enthusiastic about luxury products, blog about it.
8. Upskill. Conduct a self-assessment of your current skills and the skills required to land your dream role.
If there are gaps in your ability, one of the best things to do is invest time and money in attending a training course to bridge these gaps.
Possessing strong transferable skills is a plus, especially if you are considering switching industries.
Knowing a foreign language will also put you at a significant advantage, particularly if you are working in the front line.
Coding skills are in great demand, not only in the IT industry but also industries like banking, insurance and retail.
9. Request referrals or testimonials. Whether it is asking your former managers, past clients or suppliers to write a recommendation letter, referrals are one of the most powerful ways to show off your excellent track record of success to prospective employers.
LinkedIn also provides the opportunity to request endorsements and recommendations, which gives credibility to the claims on your profile.
10. Contact your personal network. Reach out to your personal contacts through WhatsApp or a more formal email to notify them you are open to a new career opportunity.
Be sure to tell your story – outline your past achievements and current aspirations — and attach your CV.
Many jobs are landed through personal referrals, so don’t be shy to ask your friends to lend you a hand.
Finally, here is a bonus tip: Persistence pays off!
It is important to appreciate that no matter how long your job search may feel, the best thing you can do is keep at it.
Finding a job is often a job in itself.
Sometimes it may take a week, a month or even years to land your dream job, but it will never happen if you do not keep trying!
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