Here are six New Year's job-search resolutions to consider:
1. I will build my online presence.
If you’re reluctant about using social media tools for your job search, let go of your fears in 2011. Building an online presence is likely to take your job search to new heights. What do employers see when they do a Google search for your name? Consider starting a blog, uploading your VisualCV, participating in LinkedIn group discussions, and making new connections with like-minded professionals on Twitter. A strong online presence raises your visibility with potential employers and could help you uncover hidden job opportunities.
2. I will update my resume and personalize my cover letter.
Don’t lose an opportunity to apply for a job because you haven’t updated your resume. The beginning of the year is a wonderful time to reflect on your career accomplishments and future goals—and incorporate them into your resume, cover letter, online profiles and other job-search materials.
3. I will expand my network.
Only a small percentage of jobs are advertised and filled through job boards; most are filled through personal connections. While you should continue applying to advertised positions, don’t underestimate the importance of your network. Reignite old connections with former colleagues and classmates. Use social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to stay in touch with other professionals. And take every possible opportunity to meet new people in your field.
4. I will stay positive.
Nothing kills an opportunity faster than negativity. Hiring managers and recruiters can sense it. Looking for a job can be a difficult undertaking, but it's imperative that you keep a positive outlook. Set realistic daily job-search goals, reward yourself for small successes along the way, and find time to participate in activities you enjoy.
5. I will be realistic.
It's tempting to apply for every job you see with the hopes that one will stick, but that approach could do you more harm than good. Applying for jobs that you’re not qualified for is a waste of your time, the hiring editor’s time—and it will only increase your job-search frustration. Set high goals, but make sure they’re realistic. If the job you’re interested in calls for 15 years of experience and you’re a recent college graduate, move on to a better-suited opportunity.
6. I will not be afraid to follow-up.
Following up after an interview can increase your chances of being called back. Job seekers sometimes worry that following up could be perceived as too aggressive, but that’s rarely the case. Companies want to work with employees who are excited about working in the organization, and checking in after an interview, either via e-mail or with a thank-you note, demonstrates initiative. It's always better to follow up, even if you don't end up getting the job.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.