The beginning of a new calendar year normally marks the beginning of the job search rush. January and February are two of the best months to look for long-term, full-time jobs since these are the months most companies receive updated budgets and sales forecasts.
In addition, unlike a fall job search that is sandwiched between job market slowdowns over the summer and holiday season, starting your job search in the early months of the year gives you several months to make progress in networking and interviewing without losing momentum. If you are launching or continuing a job search in February, it is more important than ever to have a plan to stand out among the crowded field of candidates.
If you don’t differentiate yourself, you will not attract the attention of hiring managers or recruiters. Therefore, you must find ways to stand out by effectively showcasing your skills to potential employers. Here are five tips to help you focus your attention this month on the best ways to find and land new job opportunities.
1. Concentrate Your Early Efforts on a Smaller List of Companies
When you’re anxious to kick off your job search, you may instinctively begin by applying to any and every option you see on LinkedIn or other job sites. This often feels like the fastest and easiest way to get your resume in front of recruiters.
But first you should spend some time considering what you want in a new job and this way, you’ll effectively narrow your search when you’re ready to start applying.
You can also draft a list of ten companies you want to target in your first wave of job searching activity. To gather ideas for this list, research the top companies in your industry and filter for things that matter to you such as location, remote, or a small startup.
In order to be different and stand out from the crowd, it’s also important to not just rely on popular job websites, after you build your list of places you would like to work, find the employer’s contact information and build a leads list to contact the employers directly. When you actually target the companies it will help you to stand out from the pack.
2. Use Your Connections
To help determine which companies and employers you want to target make sure to utilize your network.
Through networking activities, you can receive referrals that help you get on the radar of a recruiter or hiring manager, or gain the inside connection on a job before it is posted online.
The earlier months in the year are one of the best times to connect with old friends and colleagues because many people are also thinking about their own career path during this time of year and are often more eager to network as a result.
Don’t rule out asking anyone in your network for help making an introduction to one of your target companies. Reaching out to your references and network is a great way to find new jobs and stand out from the crowd.
3. Be Creative
To distinguish yourself from the crowd, be creative and use the internet! You can use a one-page website to feature yourself and link it to everywhere you brand yourself. You could also try using a website or online portfolio such as crash.co to build a catalog of your work with tools you’re proficient in. You could also get creative and make an interactive or video resume that will get more attention than a traditional paper one.
You’ll most likely be googled by your potential employer so it’s a good idea to keep your Linkedin profile up to date, but you can take that a step further and get creative with how you present yourself on your profile so you can stand out even more. If you have a personalized profile, you’ll be sure to stand out from everyone else.
Remember to take advantage of every opportunity to showcase what you have to offer beyond the normal job qualifications. Rising above the crowd and making an impact on a potential employer during the busy job search months may take a little more time and effort, but it will pay off in the end.
4. Showcase Your Value
Consider the value you bring beyond your prior work history. For instance, maybe you speak a language that is valuable to the company. Or you know certain technical tools that the company has not used before. Find out what your target company’s business model is and think about what hard or soft skills you have that are either directly or indirectly related. Make sure to include all of this in your resume. Make sure all of the information is current and that you’re including keywords and phrases that are relevant to your industry and the specific jobs that you may be applying for. Never send a generic resume. Customize it to the company, culture, and the job you are looking for.
It’s also important to customize your resume to include keywords that match the posting in order to bypass applicant tracking systems. More and more, sourcing is happening via web-bots/search, so make sure your application, cover letter, and resume is geared to the job at hand, with keywords, skills, competencies, and experiences that match the posting. At the same time, make sure it is readable and easy to digest to anyone who looks it over.
5. Capitalize on the First Interview
The impression that you make within the first couple of minutes during your interview is going to shape how the employer thinks. If you don’t start on the right foot it, can be hard to recover. So make sure you practice what you will say in advance and be prepared with the right answers for some of the most popular questions.
On top of the professional growth you hope to gain in your new job, you may also have personal circumstances that impact the parameters of your search, such as a need to work from home, an inability to relocate or a desire for a flexible schedule.
While these are all valid work-life needs, you may not want to focus on them in your initial discussions with a recruiter or hiring manager unless the job has a component that you view as an absolute deal-breaker. But if there is even a small chance that you’d consider the job as described, make the decision to learn more about the opportunity, and give the company a little time to see why you’d be a great asset to their business before expressing your concerns. This is especially important during the busy hiring months, when recruiters can quickly move on to the next qualified applicant.
Leave your options open as much as possible during your first-round discussions, and then be sure to express any desire to alter the role before engaging in second-round interviews. By that point, the hiring manager should have some sense of what you are bringing to the table and will be able to consider what flexibility, if any, they have for the position.
The beginning of a new year is a great time to reset and renew. Finding a new job can be intimidating but with these tips, you’ll stand out from the crowd. If you’re looking for more job search tips check out the Meratas blog.
Although every effort has been made to provide complete and accurate information, Meratas Inc. makes no warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of content contained herein. Meratas Inc. assumes no liability or responsibility for any error or omissions in the information contained herein or the operation or use of these materials.