It’s 1:07am on New Year’s day; the champagne’s been drunk, the party poppers have been popped and it’s time for that inevitable question: what are your New Year’s resolutions?
According to a YouGov poll, ‘pursuing a career ambition’, as they put it, was on 22 per cent of the population’s list for 2014 and is bound to be on many lists for the coming year. This ‘ambition’ causes what some call the New Year jobs rush: where thousands upon thousands of people start hunting for a new role.
With such competition, you need to make your application pretty special if you want to get noticed by your dream employer. Here’s how to win at the New Year jobs rush:
Understand what’s going on
January is always a busy time in the employment market. Lots of big companies receive their new annual budget and can therefore afford to hire again, creating new positions. Others might take the opportunity to launch an expansion scheme. Either way, there are likely to be more roles on offer. The REC/KPMG Report on Jobs for January 2014 – as a case in point – reported a ‘sharp and accelerated’ growth in vacancies, where the ‘pace of expansion was the fastest in over 15 and a half years’.
That’s in addition to the roles vacated by those moving on. It’s a long, exciting cycle with both employers and employees full of good intentions. What’s more, as January is associated with fresh starts and clean slates, it’s also a popular time for people to consider a brand new career and take a bit of a leap.
Make a plan of action
To get the most out of this buoyant environment, it’s crucial to prepare in advance and make a plan of action. This plan should include taking time to really work out which roles you are interested in and which companies you would want to work for. It should also cover revising your CV and cover letter, updating your LinkedIn profile and checking your personal social media profiles are ‘safe’ or set to private (to prevent any untoward content appearing in recruiters’ searches – especially around Christmas party time).
Next on the plan should be registering with some recruitment agencies – it’s better you do this now rather than in the ultra busy period – and set up any job alerts via Twitter or LinkedIn from your preferred employers. Working alongside an agency will give your job search a real boost; often they receive news of vacancies before the usual jobs boards, propelling you to the head of the application queue.
Start networking now
One of the best tips for increasing your chances of getting that new job is to network. Doing this in advance of your actual job search is an exceptionally effective step. This doesn’t mean schmoozing with employers at Chamber of Commerce breakfast meetings, though by all means, do. Rather, you can network via social media, contributing to groups and forums, asking questions and tweeting about industry-specific news. Participate in discussions, comment on posts and listen to web casts. You may make some valuable connections along the way. All of this will increase your personal brand and get your name out there before everyone else jumps on the bandwagon; differentiating you from the rest.
Set yourself apart
Naturally, you won’t be the only person searching for a new opportunity at this time of year, thus you need to take the right approach to ensure your CV is placed on the ‘next stage’ pile and not the ‘rejection’ one. The above will help, as will tailoring your CV specifically to the role in hand. Never, ever just send your CV to any hiring company in a 20 mile radius in a blanket approach. Go through the job advertisement and/or person specification and include examples that relate to the skills and experience required. You need to provide evidence that you are not just a match, but a better match than everyone else.
A CV is fairly restrictive, of course and you can’t (and shouldn’t) fit every single individual interesting fact about yourself on it. That’s what LinkedIn is for. Recruiters will check out your LinkedIn profile, chiefly for additional information. As such, it should not be a carbon copy of your CV but it can detail extra courses you’ve completed, other less-relevant achievements and extra-curricular activities. If you don’t have one, then create one urgently.
Have the right attitude
We all know that New Year’s good intentions can fade – how many of us have joined the gym only to stop going in February? To ensure your ‘career ambitions’ don’t go the same way, you need to have the right attitude. Searching for a job can be a lengthy and disheartening process, so you need to be realistic, positive and develop a thick skin.
There will be times when you don’t hear back, there will be times when you don’t get short-listed and there will be times when you are pipped to the post. However, if you can accept all of this and learn from it, you’ll being able to get back on that proverbial horse and keep going. If you have the right attitude, these one or two disappointments shouldn’t discourage you for long.
That’s it – how to win at the New Year jobs rush. Follow these tips and you could be at your new desk by mid-February. Good luck and happy New Year!