The holiday season can be a challenging time to search for a job. Hiring often slows during these last five weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, as many staffers cash in on their remaining vacation days, hiring budgets hit their max, and companies determine what their workforce will look like in 2021.
This can also be positive news for job seekers, and I encourage you to consider two things:
1) Some companies may increase hiring this month provided they have the excess budget.
2) This is the best time to position yourself for a successful search in January.
Here are a few of our top strategies for maintaining momentum during the holiday season and getting the most out of your job search:
Get Your Resume + Brand Portfolio in Order
Review your LinkedIn profile. If your profile is blank or outdated, spend some time searching profiles of other individuals in your field to get a sense of the language, keywords, and content others are using to market themselves. Then make sure to use the best LinkedIn features to find a job.
Create multiple versions of your resume tailored to the different types of roles or organizations you’re targeting. If you haven’t updated your resume in some time, now is the time to do so. Remember, your resume and materials should speak to the job you’re targeting, not necessarily the role you currently have. If you’re looking to move up in your next role, position yourself for those opportunities.
Assess Your Online Brand
Take a few minutes to perform a Google search of your name (all variations of it) to see what kind of information shows up and is available to prospective employers. It’s not just about hiding things that may detract from your brand (i.e., social media profiles, a negative press mention, an embarrassing holiday party photo). Take control of your content by building positive links that will float up to the top of the search results.
If you’re not on LinkedIn, learn how to use it. One of the best ways to improve your digital presence is – you guessed it – building out a robust LinkedIn profile. The sheer size of LinkedIn’s network will ensure your profile shoots up to the top of the search results for your name.
Run a search to see how many other individuals share your name, and make sure there’s a way to differentiate yourself, whether using your middle initial, hyphenating your name, or spelling out your full first name. Whatever the case, be sure that your name is consistent across all platforms, including LinkedIn, your resume, and any other public networking sites. One of the keys to a strong brand presence is consistency.
Research New Job Opportunities
It’s easy to set up automatic email updates for new job postings, subscribe to a company newsletter, or configure Google alerts. Use this time to really conduct some in-depth research on companies, opportunities, and industry trends that might be useful in your search.
Pay attention to what’s happening in your field. Things are changing more rapidly than ever. New companies pop up every day, while others get bought out, fall on hard financial times, or receive a new round of multimillion-dollar investor funding. Do a search for lesser-known companies that offer great perks, flexible culture, and growth potential.
Prepare a shortlist of your top 10-20 prospects that you want to approach in January, and create a customized resume and cover letter package for each. Bonus points if you comb LinkedIn and/or the company website to identify the name of the hiring manager.
Assess Your Worth
Are you being underpaid or underutilized? Consider whether your current salary or compensation package aligns with the market for your skillset and level of expertise. There are a number of tools out there on sites like Glassdoor, ADP, and PayScale to help you assess your value based on your geographic market, title, and experience level.
If you are actively job searching and interviewing, be prepared to discuss your compensation requirements in the interview – including your current pay and the range you’re targeting in your next opportunity. Being prepared ahead of time will boost your confidence and increase your chances of getting an ideal offer.
With networking and holiday “gatherings” being virtual this year, it’s more important than ever to speak up whenever you can about your career goals. You never know who-works-where, who-knows-whom, or what obscure relative happens to have an “in” to your dream company.
Build new connections while refining your existing network. If your LinkedIn network is full of people you never speak to, go through and trim the fat. Consider which contacts you’d like to retain or expand your relationship with, and send a friendly note wishing them a pleasant New Year.
Practice talking about yourself and your accomplishments with friends, family, and colleagues. This is the number-one area where candidates slip-up in the interview. Three out of every 10 of my clients confide in me, “I’m not used to talking about myself.” There is no place for modesty in the job interview. Practice makes perfect when it comes to solidifying your pitch, building confidence, and being able to clearly articulate your value.
Finally, improve your chances by understanding the hiring lifecycle and how to follow up once you’ve submitted your application.
If you’re ready to navigate the job market, we’re here to help. We’ll help you create the best tools in the market and move you closer to your goals in the upcoming year.