December 13, 2010

Preparing for a Fresh Start in the New Year

It’s not quite Christmas, so it might seem early to turn your thoughts to the new year.

Nope, just-in-time is more like it. In my experience, not much deep thinking happens in the last couple of weeks of the year. Between the cultural holiday hubbub and our own personal to-do lists, life-planning is right up there with a non-emergency trip to the dentist – not going to happen when there are more pressing activities to manage.

Which is why I’m recommending a mid-December tuneup to put you in good position to dive into your "new" job search the first week of January.

New? Yes, let’s assume that some things in your search haven’t gone entirely as planned, as that seems to be true of just about everyone. The trick is to stop in your tracks now, evaluate what you’ve been doing and revise your search to accommodate what you’ve learned. By calling it a new job search, I’m simply giving you permission to let go of past mistakes (Stop blaming yourself already!) while encouraging you to step up the pace as you move forward (Of course you can do more!).

To get you started, I’ll list some of the common mistakes I see people make; it will be up to you to decide if any of these are issues you’ve had in your own search, and what you plan to do about them.

1. Not choosing a job or career path to target, resulting in over-dependence on whatever the ads are offering from day to day.

2. Not networking deeply or broadly enough to spread the word about the target you’ve chosen.

3. Snubbing events such as upcoming job fairs, where dozens of employers are gathered in one room. Really, wouldn’t it be better to learn strategies to make the most of opportunities such as job fairs, rather than skipping them?

4. Not putting in the time it requires to succeed. So you sent out some letters yesterday – what are you doing today? What’s on the schedule for tomorrow?

5. Not getting outside advice when the search isn’t working.

None of these are fatal flaws, but they do add weeks or months to a job search. In a tight market, can you really afford that? Of course not. So take some time now to decide your plan for January, so you can get the results you want in the new year.

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