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Holiday Preparation for the January Job Crush

By By Susan P. Joyce

Almost everyone stops job hunting during the holidays, a mostly-welcome break from our usual activities. Then comes January 2 (or whenever the bowl games are over), and everyone jumps into action.

If you aren't going to use December to actively job search, why not use December to improve your job search tools so that you'll be better positioned in January. How?

Try any or all of these approaches...

Enjoy Holiday Party Networking

The holidays are a great time to expand your network, help others, and get support for your job search, too. Just be careful of alcohol consumption (your own) which can ruin good networking opportunities.

[More - Holiday Party Your Way to a New Job]


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Make LinkedIn Improvements

Polish your LinkedIn Profile so you'll be found by - and impress - recruiters and hiring managers searching LinkedIn for good job candidates:

  • Complete your Profile, if it isn't already at 100%.

    If you have time to complete only one project, this should be that project. Without a 100% complete Profile, your Profile won't appear in search results when a recruiter searches for someone with your skills and experience. Result: missed opportunities.

  • Make sure your Professional Headline describes you and the job you want.

    If you are unemployed, DO NOT USE "Unemployed" - that's your temporary status, not who you are. You have 120 spaces to use, so leverage this opportunity. Use your next job title as part of your Professional Headline. So, you are not "Unemployed," or even "Experienced Business Professional" (too vague and lacking keywords). You are "Web eCommerce Expert | Experienced Team Leader and Manager" or whatever best describes you and your target job.

  • Be sure each job listed in your Experience section uses an industry-standard job title.

    It's not really relevant that your former employer entitled the job "Widget Marketing Specialist." The rest of the world probably doesn't know what that is, and it is unlikely that recruiters for other organizations will be searching for "Widget Marketing Specialist" unless they work for competitors trying to get some inside information. Search on giant job aggregator Indeed.com to find out what your target employers call the position, and use that job title in your LinkedIn Profile.

  • Be sure each job listed in your Experience section has at least one accomplishment (NOT task or responsibility!) listed that supports your qualification for the job you are seeking.

    Whenever possible, quantify that accomplishment. You managed 2 (or 10 or 2,000) employees. You oversaw a budget of $#,###. You increased revenue by $##,###,### (hopefully!) or by ##%.
  • Complete the Summary section with descriptions of your accomplishments.

    Share details that help a potential employer understand what you can do for them.

    Include the important keywords for your next job.

    For example, if experience using social media is a requirement often listed in job descriptions for your target job, include all the social media terms that are appropriate for you. Don't stop with the phrase, "Experienced with social media." Expand the description, as appropriate, to include all the keywords an employer might use to search for a qualified person. So, your description might look like this - "Over 5 years of experience using social media to market services, including management of a LinkedIn Group of 2,000 members, creating daily posts for the Facebook page, and building the corporate Twitter account to include over 10,000 followers." Then, describe your experience using those tools in more detail (details = keywords).

If you are making several changes to your LinkedIn Profile, as described above, turn off the "activity broadcasts" in your Profile. You can do this in the "Privacy Controls" section of the Settings for your LinkedIn Profile. Then, turn the broadcasts back on when you have finished your major update.

[More: How to Be Found on LinkedIn, Guide to Using LinkedIn for Job Search, Guide to the Best Keywords for Your Job Search]

Create/Update Your Kitchen Sink Resume

Take the time to document all of your previous jobs and all of your accomplishments in those jobs - including

  • Work
  • Internships
  • Volunteering
  • Research for a school paper
  • Helping organize an event at your child's school
  • Anything else you did that gave you "work" experience (even if it was officially unpaid).

This is your "everything but the kitchen sink" resume, and you use this resume to pick out the accomplishments and experience you have that are relevant to a job you are applying for. This document is the basis of the "targeted" resume you submit when you apply for a job. This long list will help you remember relevant experience and accomplishments you might not include in your "standard" resume.

Remember to keep your kitchen-sink resume up-to-date after you have your new job!

[More - Guide to Effective Resumes]

Bottom Line

This time of year can be put to very good use getting ready for your job search.


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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