It's a new year - and lots of people are thinking that maybe 2006 will be The Year of the New Job. If that describes you, then you'll want to start planning for your big exodus. But don't start strewing resumes across the landscape before taking care of a few getting-going items, described below. If you're thinking about buying some spiffy new interviewing duds, get out to the stores now before the January sales are over! Good luck, and happy job-hunting. . .
Starting a New-Year Job Search
1) GET YOUR RESUME READY
That means on paper, on-line, and plain text (for inclusion in attachments). It means one-page and concise, spell-checked, and reviewed by someone who can give you great feedback on the content and the layout. These days, cool colors, marbled textures and funky typefaces are out. Clean, crisp and confident is the watchword.
2) GET A GROWN-UP EMAIL ADDRESS
Hotmail, MSN and Yahoo email addresses aren't suitable for a job seeker because of throughput issues and buffer size. Also, your “SailingGirl@qwest.com" is not a professional email address. Give yourself an advantage and use an adult email address on all job-related correspondence. Make sure this email address is on your resume and that all your friends have it, for use when they're making introductions between you and possible job-search contacts.
3) CHECK YOUR PHONE MESSAGE CAPABILITIES
Figure out how to collect messages remotely if you don't already know. Get rid of the cute kid message or the clever one that impresses your college friends. If the home phone machine isn't reliable, get a separate number for your job search.
4) GET JOB-SEARCH BUSINESS CARDS
Even if you're already employed, go to www.vistaprint.com and get free business cards (no kittens or hot-air balloons) just for use in your job search. Include the position you're looking for, three bullet points about your skills and education, and phone and email contact information.
5) GO ONLINE
Get on networking sites like LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) and WorldWIT, the free email discussion network for professional women (but men are welcome, too - full disclosure, I helped to start the group) to get your online networking rolling!
6) USE YOUR ALUM CONNECTIONS
Even if you graduated from school twenty years ago, your alumni network is a powerful tool that you shouldn't underestimate. Many schools have databases of grads that you can search for people in companies or industries you're interested in - then pick up the phone and call them!
7) GET OUT THERE
Go to at least one face to face networking event a week. Use Google or your daily paper to learn about them - bring your job-hunting business cards (not your resume) and start chatting! Practice starting conversations and sustaining them, focusing on the other person. If it's appropriate, within a few minutes you will have the opportunity to describe your own situation: “I'm a ten-year marketing professional, and right now I'm looking for my next opportunity. "
8) GET YOUR PITCH DOWN
Your pitch should take two forms: a verbal 20-second introduction, and an Objective statement on your resume. What are you good at? What have you done? Where have you worked? What do you want to do next? When people ask you “What sort of job are you looking for?" you want to be able to quickly and enthusiastically describe your ideal situation.
9) TELL EVERYONE YOU ARE LOOKING
Everyone except your boss, that is - if you're already employed. Tell your college friends, your neighbors, and all the people you've ever worked with whom you're still in touch. People at your kids’ school, people at your gym. Your job search knows no boundaries - networking is THE best way to get a new position.
10) CALL ON YOUR NETWORK
Create a great “here's-what-I'm-looking-for" email message, and send it (bcc:ing everyone on the list) to everyone in your Address Book (everyone except people who might rat you out to your boss, if you're currently employed). Ask them to keep your job search in mind during their New Year networking - and offer to do THEM a favor, too - reciprocity is essential!
The New Year is a great time to jump into a job search. And after the New year, companies are hiring. Get out there and look!
Liz Ryan is a 25-year corporate HR executive, a workplace expert, and the CEO of WorldWIT, the global online discussion network (http://www.worldwit.org ). Liz is a member of the National Speakers Association and speaks to corporate and alumni groups across the U. S. and abroad about the workplace, work/life, and the new corporate ladder. Learn more about Liz at http://www.worldwit.org .