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7 New Year's Resolutions for Job Search Success

By By Susan P. Joyce

Get 2017 off to a great start with these 7 ideas for a successful job search in the New Year.

1. I will monitor my online reputation. 

According to a respected survey, nearly 80% of recruiters and potential employers will Google you before inviting you in for an interview.

If you don’t know what they will find, you are defenseless. When you do know what employers find, you can address any issues you have, including your own missteps as well as mistaken online identity (someone else with the same name you have who has done something a potential employer would not like).

Resources to help:

  • Learn how to do Defensive Googling. It is an important task to do regularly, particularly when you are in job search mode. You will see what potential employers see about you when they Google you.
  • Your best defense against mistaken online identity is your LinkedIn Profile, and your best reputation management tool is your LinkedIn Profile (next).

2. I will increase my professional visibility using LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is your best defense against bad Google search results because Google typically places LinkedIn at, or very near, the top of any search on the name of a person.

In addition, LinkedIn is the "happy hunting ground" for most recruiters. A recent poll of recruiters by JobVite.com revealed 94% of recruiters used LinkedIn for recruiting. You cannot afford to be invisible to most recruiters.

If you don’t have a good LinkedIn Profile, you are at an increasing disadvantage in the job marketplace. The good news is that you don't need to pay for the basic LinkedIn account which provides everything you need for your job search - at no cost!

Resources to help:

In an era when 80% of employers Google a job seeker before inviting them in for an interview, you need to have a good message out there about you. These days, the most effective way to do that is with your LinkedIn Profile - you tell the world about yourself, in your own words, and Google shows that to anyone who does a search on your name..


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3. I will be able to tell people the job I want next.

If you don't know what you want to do, you won't be able to do effective personal branding (# 2, above) or convert conversations into opportunities. People won't be really able to help you, regardless of how much they try. And you'll waste time chasing jobs that aren't good fits for you.

Picture this: You meet a potential employer in line at the grocery store or at a networking event. You tell them that you are looking for a job, and they ask, "What are you looking for?" You MUST have a good answer ready for them - job title(s) and target employers (company name) and/or target employer group (like accounting firms or grocery stores or whatever is appropriate for you).

If you don't yet know what you want to do, figure it out. In this case, being "flexible" about what you want means that your job search will be longer than it needs to be.

Resources to help:

  • Book: What Color Is Your Parachute - has sold millions of copies because it helps you figure out what you do best and what you want to do. Buy the latest edition (2017) or borrow any edition (updated annually) from a friend or your library.
  • The University of North Carolina, Wilmington, offers What Can I Do With A Major In... -- very helpful whether you are graduating this year or many years ago.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor's O*Net Online - walks you through several exercises online to help you determine what your skills are and where they could be used. Also helps you connect with "hot careers."

4. I will develop my personal list of target employers.

When you look for a job without a list of possible employers you are targeting, you are at the mercy of the jobs you find advertised or stumble over in your networking. You may get lucky and end up with a good employer, and you may not.

You probably know the best employers in your location or industry. As long as you're looking for a job anyway, why not target the best?

If you don’t know the best employers, do some research to identify them. Ask friends, colleagues, your network. Study the local newspapers and online news sources.

  • When you are talking with someone (networking officially or unofficially), and they ask you what you are looking for, tell them not only what (as in # 3 above) but also for whom! Maybe they know someone who works at one of those target employers, or they know someone who knows someone who works there (etc.).
  • When you search through the job boards, look for jobs from those employers. Check out giant job board Indeed.com which has the largest collection of job postings.
  • If your target employers have jobs posted on their Websites, visit those job postings regularly. Sign up for e-mailed updates if you can.
  • Check LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, etc. to find people who work for those target employers. Hopefully you’ll find some with whom you have a connection, even a tenuous one. Reach out to those people, and rekindle an old friendship, find an old friend, or just help expand each other's networks.

Resources to help:

  • Search through the job postings on sites like Indeed.com, Facebook, and LinkedIn, to find jobs from those employers. Job-Hunt's Guide to Using Indeed to Find a Job describes how you can pull out all the job postings from a specific employer.
  • Using free JibberJobber job search management tool will help you track which jobs you’ve applied for, who got what resume, what that manager’s e-mail address or phone number is, what your next action item is for your job search, and much more. It even works with Outlook. Check it out.

5. I will focus my efforts on networking, not on online applications or resume distribution.

In 19 years of studying and observing the process of using the Internet to find a job, I’ve seen that sending out massive quantities of resumes, in response to job postings or, worse, using a resume distribution service, does not work. It may feel productive, but it’s not - with very few exceptions. 

The data show that fewer than 10% of people find jobs through job boards. People are hired by people they know, so get out there and get known.

  • Track down former colleagues and classmates -

    • Ask your friends if they're still in touch with [whomever].
    • Google the names of the people you want to find.
    • Ask your college alumni center if they can give you the email addresses or other contact information. If they can't do that (because of privacy concerns), ask them to forward your contact information to the person or people. There also may be a printed alumni directory you can buy or access online to search yourself.
  • Network online. LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook, et al, can be good sources of contact information for reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.
  • Join a local job search support group. Exchange ideas and information with other people in the same boat and usually get help from a professional at weekly, low-cost meetings.
  • Join the local chapter of a national organization that is relevant and appropriate for your target job and where you can meet people who work for your target employers. Then, go to the meetings. Volunteer to help with name tags at the meetings (so you get to meet everyone there).

Resources to help:

6. I will help others with their job search.

As the Beatles told us 40+ years ago, "We get by with a little help from our friends." You don't have to give someone else your hottest lead, unless you decide that it's really not right for you. But, you can help them connect with someone you know who works (or worked) at their target employer, give them help with their resume, a ride to the next job search support group meeting, etc.

Particularly when you are unemployed, helping others can help you feel more useful personally. And, it often, but not always, comes back to you. That person you helped with their resume has a neighbor who might be able to help you, and so on.

As "they" say, "what goes around, comes around," and paying forward to help others really does seem to payoff. Help others for that reason, if for no other.

7. I will remember my manners.

Sadly, being polite and using good personal etiquette will help you stand out from the crowd of unknowing or thoughtless people. A thank you note sent to anyone you interview with (including the HR person as well as the hiring manager and any other staff members you met with) will be an important differentiator.

You may not lose an opportunity if you don’t write those thank you notes, but writing them will be an extra "nice" thing about you that may tip the scales in your direction. According to the experts, fewer than 5% of people do send out thank you notes, so you can see how much it will stand out.

And, strangely, one of the most effective thank you notes you can send is a thank you note after you've received the thanks-but-no-thanks rejection letter. I wrote an article about that, Turning Rejection into Opportunity in 2004, and it seems even more true today.


About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.


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