Your 2013 job-search guide
Now that the holidays are over, the nonstop party hopping has ended and the New Year's ball has dropped, it's time to get serious about your job search. Yet the thought of looking for a job can be overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you avoid missing any steps?
We're here to take some of that anxiety away by breaking down the job-search actions to take throughout the year. While there's no one-size-fits-all approach to job hunting, this should serve as a guide to ensure you're setting yourself up for a successful search.
We've put together a brief quarter-by-quarter overview to help frame your job-search plan for the year. Each job seeker should go at his own pace, but we think this timeline can help you stay on track.
- Q1 (January through March): Devote the first few months of the year to getting organized. Organize your thoughts, organize your application materials and organize your contacts.
- Q2 (April through June): A few months in, you should be going full-steam ahead with your job search. Your days should be filled with applying, following up, networking and going to interviews. If you're a college student, get a head start in your professional job search by tapping alumni, using your school's career resources and making initial contact with companies of interest.
- Q3 (July through September): At around the midyear mark, take a step back to review what's working and what's not in your job search. It's not too late to correct your course to ensure that you reach your goals during the second half of the year.
- Q4 (October through December): During the last few months of the year, take advantage of the season. Network at holiday parties, consider seasonal job opportunities and take the time to thank those who have helped you professionally throughout the year.
Q1: Get organized
Here's a closer look at what to get started on right now:
- Put your goals in writing: Before diving into your job search, take a step back and organize your thoughts. Do you know what you want to do next? Have you researched the positions that fit your interests and expertise? Do you have the skills needed to get the job you want or do you need additional education? Once you've thought all of this through, write down your goals and how you're going to achieve them. Doing this will help focus your search.
- Audit your application materials: Have your application materials gone untouched since the last time you applied for a job? Do you even have everything you need? To find out, conduct an audit: Do you have a recent résumé and cover letter? When was the last time these documents were updated? Do you have any supporting materials that might be needed for applications, such as client work, writing samples or news clips? Also, look at your online presence: Are your profiles on professional social networks up-to-date and do they match the content of your application materials? Could creating a personal website to house your portfolio give you an edge in your search? After you've determined what you have and where the holes are, get to work. Remember, you want to create personalized résumés and cover letters for each position to which you're applying, so keep that in mind when making changes. Check out this infographic for a guide on how to refresh your résumé.
- Reconnect with contacts made during the holidays: Did you meet potential professional contacts during your holiday party-hopping? Now that the season is over, it's time to follow up. Don't wait too long -- the more time passes, the more likely that your new contacts will forget your meeting and won't think of you for job opportunities. If you're squeamish about cold calling people you don't know well, start by writing emails. Remind them who you are, how you met and how much you enjoyed the conversation. Ask them if they have time to speak again on the phone or in person. Once that initial connection is made, you can talk more specifically about your career goals and how they might help you achieve them.
Debra Auerbach is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
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