At the beginning of the year, you likely made a resolution to [fill in the blank]. Odds are that resolution has long since gone by the wayside.
However, if your goal was to find a more rewarding career, now is a great time to revitalize that mission. Holidays and summer are slow hiring seasons, when budgets are in the planning phase and people are on vacation, according a recent Forbes article.
Spring, however, is a great time to get a fresh start.
It’s still a challenging job market, with one-third of Americans job hunting this year. If you’re one of the millions resolved to find your dream job, here are nine tips:
Focus your search: Picture your ideal professional life. Do you want to work part- or full-time? In a small office, a mid-sized company or a large corporation? Do you want to relocate? If not, how far are you willing to drive? What kind of salary do you want or need? What careers will let you pursue your life passions or develop your strengths?
Take some time to really think. Write down your thoughts and goals. The whole idea is to get your ideas and thoughts written down.
Develop a plan: Before you search, make a plan. List five companies you really want to work for, the geographic locations you like, company size, public vs. privately owned. Keep that plan in one place (like a notebook or a Word document) and update it regularly.
Treat the process like a job: If you are unemployed, finding a job should be a full-time responsibility. Treat it like spending 40 hours per week in pursuit of that career. If you are working, set time each day away from other activities. When you start your search, do not let your current responsibilities wane. Schedule your day, set goals and objectives.
Don’t just “do your homework” — really study! Research the organization prior to interviewing. Learn the successes, accolades and competitors. Research on the Better Business Bureau website and set up Google alerts for top employment prospects. Check community involvement. This will enable you to better understand a company.
Leverage your presence via LinkedIn: Today, as many as 92 percent of employers and recruiters use social networks — yet only 38 percent of job seekers use LinkedIn to find work. Constantly build online connections, joining groups related to your industry, regularly updating your status and keeping your profile information and credentials fresh.
When filling a job, 47 percent of recruiters review credentials before an initial conversation. Would a Google search of your name earn you an interview?
Don’t forget the basics. Set a professional voicemail on your phone, keep business cards with you at all times and ensure you’re using a professional email address. Even if you love cats, your future employer probably won’t be impressed by firstname.lastname@example.org. Unless you’re applying for the Humane Society. Which brings me to another point:
Tailor your approach: Your job search is not one size fits all. What works for one company might not work for another. Today, each person has to tailor his/her résumé to the specific job. Gone are the days when you could float your résumé to 100 companies and expect an interview. Hone in on a particular job and use the job announcement to formulate your résumé with the same vocabulary.
Evolve: The search is continuously changing. Tools and processes that work now might not work in six months. Research continuously, utilize different tools, and improve yourself after interviews. It always makes a good impression to ask for feedback from an interviewer.
It’s never too late: Consider lifelong learner Col. Harland Sanders. Later famed for founding KFC, at 40, Sanders was selling chicken out of his home. At 65, his only restaurant failed.
Sanders took the $105 from his first Social Security check and his fried chicken recipe and scouted out franchise locations.
Now, 70 years later, there are more than 15,000 KFC restaurants in 105 countries. It’s never too late to set and pursue a goal.
Jason Ramsey is director of career services for Colorado Technical University.