The New Year is always a time of reflection and de-cluttering and this is no different for job seekers. Use the motivation of the New Year to take a fresh look at your job search activity – here are 4 ideas for refreshing your job search in 2017:
The only way to start fresh and move forward is to look inward and identify areas for growth. Think about some of the most meaningful conversations you've had during your job search (think about networking conversations, informational interviews, job interviews, or just conversations you had when connecting with a friend, family member or career counselor to catch them up on your job search).
What conversations stand out for you? What was it about the conversation that made it memorable? How did the conversation make you feel? Think about a time when you felt excited about what you were talking about or doing. How can you increase your engagement in your interactions/conversations in 2017? Think about some of your networking conversations and jot down notes about some of the most noteworthy conversations and people. In 2017, do your best to jot down some notes after every meeting, what were some of the key points, what are your follow up items, what are some of the interests of the person you were connecting with (this is great for sending them something useful later in your relationship, i.e. a relevant article, a LinkedIn introduction to someone they may want to meet), names of other people they suggested you connect with, or other resources for you to research.
Spend a little time thinking about conversations that didn’t go well, and try to identify why. What was missing? What would have made those connections better or more valuable? If it was something you could have improved on, take note. If it just didn’t feel like a good connection, let it go. Focus most of your energy on the positive connections, and use these as momentum to start initiating more conversations in 2017. Bring your confident self (it’s merely a conversation, after all!), be kind, be grateful, be curious (ask good questions!) be respectful of their time and be sure to send a thank you within 24 hours.
What do your notes from your job search look like? How long would it take you to find notes from a networking meeting you had in late November? If your job search activities (schedule/notes/timeline/planner) aren’t currently housed in one place (binder, planner, spreadsheet or Word Document) take the time to make this happen. If you’re a person with a notebook full of random scraps of paper, find a better way to contain your scraps and organize your notebook or binder into relevant sections. If you’re a spreadsheet person, make sure your spreadsheet contains all of your job search activities, from networking meetings, email exchanges, informational interviews, interviews, contacts, suggested follow up contacts and personal notes about the person or people you met with. Ask your counselor for our Job Search Tracker Tool; we designed it to help you track all of this information easily. How will you carry this organization forward into the New Year? If unburying and collating your previous job search activity records seems like too daunting of a task, start fresh with a new planner for 2017 and give yourself latitude for 2016. Start each day by creating a list of the top 6 things you are going to accomplish for the day and do your best to accomplish them. Keep those daily lists, add them to your planner. Look back at these regularly and give yourself kudos for your productivity.
Review your job search activities to date. Re-read email conversations, look at old calendars and interview notes/correspondence. What has gone well? What part of your job search involved more of a learning curve? Where are your current major areas of development or skill building? Job search basically comes down to 3 components (Networking, Résumé and Interviewing), and if one area is weak, work on building it up. If your résumé isn’t working, find ways to improve it. There are many resources available online or at your local library or workforce center, our workshops, or setup a check-in meeting with your career counselor. If you feel like you would benefit from enhancing your interviewing skills, practice. Read through practice interview questions and answers, try a practice video interview, attend an interview workshop where you can practice role playing, schedule a mock interview with your counselor. If you are avoiding networking, challenge yourself to reach out to 3-5 connections per week, for a phone or Skype conversation or an in person meeting. Ask for 20 minutes, have an agenda, bring good questions and be respectful of their time. Send a thank you, ask to connect with them on LinkedIn. If you have a fear of networking, start via safe means (blog or LinkedIn post, connections of close friends or family) to start getting used to connecting with people you don’t know. Evaluate what doesn’t seem to be working and figure out where the gap is. If you are applying to jobs and not getting asked to interview, you need to beef up your networking and improve/target your resume to the positions you are applying to. If you are getting interviews, but not job offers, you need to work on improving your interview skills/presence. Review what’s working and identify and implement changes to fix what’s not.
Refresh any connections that have gone stagnant and reach out to anyone who was in any way involved with your job search last year with a thank you, a brief update about where you are in your search, and a greeting for the New Year and/or an offer of assistance to them. Start using your new 2017 planner, especially designated for job search and review it regularly, following up on any cold connections a few times before letting them
die, honoring the fine line between persistence and pest. Re-connect with those people from previous conversations that felt most meaningful to you. Stress that you enjoyed connecting with them and remind them of the conversation and why. Review your job search activity every few weeks to find any areas of weakness and revamp these. Always keep top of mind the next 3 people you would like to connect with and why….and reach out. When you connect with one of them, fill their spot with the next potential connection. This creates a constantly full intentional pipeline of people who share something in common with you that are open to connecting with you. Refresh your LinkedIn page by tweaking your summary, adding new connections, joining new groups or posting original content.
Taking a fresh look at things always needs to include a glance at the rear view mirror! Be kind to yourself when reviewing things that could have gone better in 2016, take the lesson and move forward. Give yourself credit for navigating the emotions and challenges of job loss while also constructively working on your job search and re-employment goals. If you need ideas on how to refresh your job search in 2017, reach out to your counselor!