With Christmas done and 2012 shrinking in the rearview mirror, January is well and truly upon us. Bringing with it the inevitable detox plans, exercise DVDs and expensive gym memberships.
The dawning of a new year is all about the quest for self-improvement and, in the spirit of fresh starts and different challenges, it is perhaps unsurprising that “getting a new job” is one of the most common resolutions made on January 1st.
Of course, this can be a great time to pursue a career change. Businesses are finalising their plans for the year ahead and looking to appoint the key people needed to achieve their aims. The flipside, however, is that it is unlikely you will be the only one with a move in mind and the competition may be a little tougher than usual.
So how do you give your job search the best possible chance? A few points to consider:
Have a clear idea of what would interest you
It isn’t enough to simply want out. Give serious thought to your ideal next step and what you really want to do. Are you looking for a natural progression from your existing role or something completely different? Do you want to travel more – or less? Take on increased responsibility or relinquish some?
Think outside the box
Don’t be too quick to dismiss all of the options. Would you be willing to change industries, for example, and – if so – how could you contribute? Would you consider a Non-Executive or Advisory Board role? Might an interim post be appealing?
Improve your online presence
The internet and, moreover, social networking sites are playing an increasingly dominant role in the world of business. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date, accurate and best represents your skills and achievements. Contribute to discussion groups and be active on Twitter – but exercise restraint to avoid appearing as though you have too much time on your hands.
Spruce up your CV
If it has been a while since you were last on the job market, the chances are your CV needs bringing up to date. This might just be a case of including your most recent experience but also watch out for any old-fashioned formatting (e.g. borders, photographs, typeface). Avoid the temptation to make your resume eye-catching – instead keep it simple, clear and easy-to-read.
Put the feelers out
No doubt you have been contacted by headhunters in the past. Now is the time to reach out to them again. Send your updated CV with a brief cover email outlining the type of role that could interest you. Most headhunters work on behalf of clients rather than candidates but if they have something relevant in the pipeline, you will be at the forefront of their minds.
Whether you do it online or in the real world, networking can give you exclusive access to opportunities, ahead of anyone else (including recruiters). So, whether it’s a drinks reception or a LinkedIn connection – start accepting those invitations!
High profile opportunities are often not advertised and it is often a case of a headhunter or employer finding you. Make yourself as visible as possible by identifying the executive recruitment companies in your field and, if they have a talent register, join it.
Proactively pursuing a career move can be time-consuming and quick to slip down the priority list. As much as possible, try to make yourself available for the meetings and interviews you are invited to. Timing is often of the essence and if you cannot attend an interview until three weeks after all the other candidates, you run the risk of missing the boat.