If you’re anything like us, you’re likely to consider the rest of 2016 a wash—you’re going to eat junk food, drink too much champagne, not get to the gym and definitely, definitely suspend your career aspirations until the start of the new year. Don’t beat yourself up over this—you deserve a break. Still, there are few things worse than kicking off a new year feeling trapped in a job you don’t love, so if you’re thinking of seeking new opportunities in 2017, you might want to begin prepping now. Here, 10 ways to jump-start the January job search that you can easily squeeze in between holiday parties, flights and hangovers.
Like it or not, long gone are the days in which you had control over a future employer's impression of you—your digital footprint likely dates back to before you even had an employer. For this reason, it's important to cultivate your personal brand in much the same way you would a company brand. Think about which subjects you'd like to be considered an expert on, or which you'd like to be perceived as your specialty. Remember to be specific and concise when approaching this exercise—employers want to easily identify talent. Your Google results should reflect this, meaning your social media accounts and blog posts should be in keeping with the image you're trying to project. In case you need them (who doesn't?), here are seven steps to a less embarrassing Google search. If you haven't already done so, grab a personal website (YourName.Com) to further control your online presence.
It may feel like résumés are useless these days (when all anyone seems to care about is the number of followers a person has on Instagram), but it's still important to put in the effort. Avoid vague statements about responsibilities and instead include specific results you've achieved. For example, the person interviewing you for a marketing director position will know, more or less, what duties your last marketing job entailed. What they don't know is how you won, the ways in which you helped your company pivot after failure, or other specific details that help them assess your effectiveness.
We don't recommend sending out the same cover letter for every job; however, you can create a template that allows room for personalization without consuming too much time as you paper the town with applications. Though you'd probably prefer to watch bad movies while you fly, this is a great plane activity (your 2017 morale will thank you for it!).
Make sure your profile includes a lot of keywords prospective employers might be searching for. You may even want to dump keywords from job descriptions you're interested in into Wordle to see which stand out (these are the ones you should pepper into your profile). Beyond this, keep your profile comprehensive but specific. And give hiring managers an adequate sense of your personality, likability and network.
December tends to bring with it more social engagements than any other month. RSVP yes to those that may attract people in fields you want to work in and (casually!) network with both old and new contacts. This will make it easier to reach out in January without it seeming random. If you haven't already done so, consider creating inexpensive personal business cards on Moo.com to hand out to those you encounter. These should include your personal e-mail, website and any relevant social accounts (Twitter, Instagram, Medium, etc.).
Many job openings are posted on social media these days, so it's wise to follow your dream employers on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. This will also give you a sense of the culture of the company, which may help you in the application process.
Here in America, we don't get a ton of time off over the holidays, so we understand if you don't feel like using what little vacation you're allotted to further your future career. Still, if there's a fairly simple skill (e.g., Photoshop) you've been meaning to learn that will improve your chances of getting hired in your desired field, this might be a good time to get it under your belt. Here, a comprehensive list of online classes you can actually afford.
If you're low on inspiration, the holidays are a good time to crack open a few books written by people you admire in your field. General advice can also be helpful for those feeling lost, intimidated or anything but optimistic. Right now, we're liking Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht, the marketing superstar who launched the DKNY PR Girl Twitter account.
One of the positives of today's digital world is that you can express yourself in ways you couldn't in the past. You may not have a ton of work experience in a specific field, but if you have knowledge and opinions, you can share them via channels like Medium. When résumés are piled sky-high, a few well-written blog posts on a topic relevant to the position can be a shortcut to standing out. Just be sure that what you write represents you in a positive light and doesn't criticize potential employers (unless the criticism is constructive, in which case a great company will ideally identify you as an asset).
The holidays provide a great opportunity to put together one or two interview ensembles that make you feel confident and look the part of the jobs you seek. Here, the best pieces to wear for an interview, according to Rachel Zoe.