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Jan 3

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Job Search

Have you made any new year’s resolutions for your career? Here are a few suggestions, whether you’re planning a job search or not:
  • Update Your Resume. When was the last time you updated your resume? If you haven’t updated your resume in the last three months - now’s a great time. At minimum, take a look over your resume once a semester - is everything up to date? Any new accomplishments to add? Anything old to remove? (Check out this post on customizing your resume for more tips.)
  • Reach Out, Link in. How about your LinkedIn profile? If you have one, is it up to date? Accurate? Concise? If you don’t have one yet, it’s very easy to create a profile by uploading your resume, or cutting and pasting relevant information. Check out LinkedIn’s Learning Center for more about creating compelling profiles. Once your profile is up to date, it’s time to reach out for connections. Try joining groups for your subfield or professional organizations, and alumni association groups; you can also connect to your email so that LinkedIn will automatically find contacts for you. And there’s the handy “people you may know” function, as well - I’m always amazed at who it finds (hey! I know that guy!). Once you’ve done that, you can build on your LinkedIn presence by asking for (and giving) recommendations, engaging in group discussions, sharing articles or tweets, and more. Use the message and connection functions to add personal notes and keep in touch. Additionally, some jobs are posted on LinkedIn - it’s worth exploring this option.
  • Connect in Person. Don’t forget to connect offline, too, when possible - see some of your network connections for lunch or coffee. Schedule informational interviews, or set up times to meet at conferences.
  • Gather Information. If you’re looking for a job, chances are you have websites you check frequently (not sure where to start? Look to the right, on the non-mobile version of this post for some of my favorite links.). But looking in all those places can be time-consuming - and sometimes things are posted in multiple places. Find a system that works for you in order to collect and organize postings - my favorite method is to use RSS feeds and google reader - they’re organized in a folder, and I mark the jobs I’m interested in. Additionally, if you haven’t created email alerts yet, do so! 
  • Get Organized. Find a system that works for you to keep track of which jobs you’ve applied for, records of your contacts, and more. One suggestion from twitter was to create a spreadsheet to keep track of what jobs you’ve applied for and where you are in the process (e.g., “submitted 1/2/12” or “phone interview 1/5/12 :)” or “thank you note sent 1/15/12”). I also recommend creating folders in online storage (e.g., Dropbox) for each institution - and include a copy of the job posting (as these are often removed from sites once the closing date has passed - I typically grab a PDF of the page, although you could also copy and paste the description into a word processor document) and any files you sent - resume, cover letter, references, samples, etc. You can also keep these on your hard drive or a flash drive, of course - but keeping them in online storage means you can access them from anywhere, and they’re already backed up (not lost if you also lose that flash drive or your hard drive crashes). 
  • See a Career Counselor or Coach. No matter where you are in the process, speaking with a career counselor or coach can be very helpful! From assistance with resume and cover letter writing to mock interviewing and job search strategies, counseling or coaching can keep your head in the process - and if you’ve been searching a while, it can give you some crucial space to reflect, be supported, and rejuvenate. Check your alma mater - many career centers also provide services to alumni. If that’s not an option for you, there are many who offer coaching - including my twitter chat co-moderator, Sean Cook from higheredcareercoach.com
  • Take Stock. The beginning of the calendar year - or midway through our academic year, for those on a semester schedule - is a great time to reassess your career goals and search. What’s your dream job? What skills do you want to be building? What’s your personal mission, and is the work you’re doing in line with that? How might you move toward your goals?
  • Just Be. We are human beings, not human doings. Sometimes in the job search we can get so focused on accomplishing all our tasks —doing—that we don’t take the time to just breathe and reflect on the process - and for me at least, this reflection and “being” is crucial to staying in touch with a sense of what I really want. So - find some time to get out of your head, in whatever way works best for you: meditate, journal, go for a run, play outside, go swimming, read a guilty pleasure, see some art, stretch.

What about you? What resolutions are you making for your career?