TIPS: 30 Job-Search Resolutions for 2013 (My “Mistletoe List”)

By Andy O’Hearnmistletoe3

As we kiss another year goodbye, thoughts turn to resolutions for the coming year. In light, however, of the fact that only eight percent of Americans successfully achieve their New Year’s resolutions—and that 80 percent of those who make New Year resolutions have failed by January 20—I have taken the liberty of reframing the concept of a lifelong “bucket list” as my one-year “mistletoe list.” You may find ideas here for creating your own list, to help you make your new year productive.

  1. I will get over my writer/editor’s pride of ownership and share my resume with other writer/editors. Reason: Job seekers are 40 percent more likely to get noticed with a professionally written resume.
  2. I will Google my name (and variations) plus position-specific keywords at least weekly. Reason: more than 35 percent of people Google themselves only once a year—and 16 percent have never searched their names.
  3. I will share relevant industry news at least once every 10 days via social media/blogs. Reason: 85 percent of hiring managers say a candidate’s positive digital presence impacted their hiring decision.
  4. I will update all of my social media profiles with a professional-quality headshot. Reason: That shot of me from the late 1990s, with facial hair I no longer possess, just isn’t cutting it anymore.
  5. I will create (and carry with me at all times) professional-quality business cards. Reason: It’s unprofessional to be constantly scribbling down my information on whatever scraps of paper happen to be handy . . . and I’m also missing out on potential personal-branding opportunities.
  6. I will upgrade those “job description” bullets from my most recent position(s) into P-A-R stories, while updating my “master” work accomplishments document. Reason: Doing this legwork up-front makes it so much easier to produce customized career documents and prepare for challenging interview questions.
  7. I will make the time and spend the funds to upgrade my professional wardrobe. Reason: Each of us is judged largely and quickly on nonverbal appearances, not least of which are: clothes, accessories and grooming choices (e.g., professionally re-heel and polish dress shoes).
  8. I will upgrade my mobile technology. Reason: In addition to being a valuable time-saver, doing so will help me present my personal branding in a more contemporary way.
  9. I will test new/niche job boards and company careers webpages, as well as “career insider” sites such as Glassdoor. Reason: The odds for finding a position here may be better than the typical job-aggregator websites.
  10. I will update my job-opportunity business plan/results log (Excel spreadsheet) at least weekly. Reason: In lieu of a corporate environment, I need to impose my own routine and structure on my job search activities, which will also help me to recognize patterns and potential efficiencies.
  11. I will try out (or get on the contacts list of) at least one new networking group every three weeks. Reason: I need to put myself in front of a fresh array of faces and/or explore a different set of job-seeking processes and techniques on a regular basis.
  12. I will exercise at least twice a week for at least 30 minutes each time, to prepare for a challenging physical event, come Daylight Savings Time March 10, 2013. Reason: To help manage stress, keep my energy levels up, fit into clothes, maintain a sense of accomplishment, stay healthy, and deflect potential ageism.
  13. I will set up informational interviews (“meet for coffee, on me”) at least every three weeks. Reason: Meeting with people that are already employed, for advice, insights/information, and referrals/recommendations, is the best way to network to both posted and hidden jobs.
  14. I will figure out how to use job search on social media other than LinkedIn. Reason: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc., are all becoming more sophisticated job search sites, just as LinkedIn seeks to borrow “socialization” techniques from these social media competitors.
  15. I will volunteer for a new group, committee or project/task at least monthly. Reason: Volunteer activity is one of the best ways to demonstrate my professional abilities, especially in terms of transferable skills.
  16. I will assertively research alternative job-search techniques, strategies and links-lists at least weekly, including books, using “recency” filters to winnow down the most pertinent ones (example: http://careers.tufts.edu/alumni/additional/NewYearNewJobSearch.asp). Reason: Otherwise, the 72 percent of the workforce that actively pursues independent learning will eclipse me in talent and hire-ability.
  17. I will update a presentation in an area of subject-matter-expertise (e.g., LinkedIn) at least monthly. Reason: In personal branding, it’s essential to have a strong “hook” or specialty (often a combination thereof) that separates your skill set from others in your industry or profession.
  18. I will listen to my “inner voice” (Zen presence) and not apply to positions that are destined for dead-end/ derailing outcomes. Reason: The right job opportunity is worth working for, and worth waiting for; do your homework, listen to your instincts, trust your gut, and if possible, ask probing questions offline with the people that already work there.
  19. I will practice my interviewing skills, in advance, via low/no-risk settings—ideally in person, or else via Skype, video, audio, etc. Reason: Interviews are hard enough to obtain; any learning opportunities need to bubble up well before an actual job offer rests in the balance.
  20. I will review notes/course materials/books in areas that prompted significant past productivity gains (e.g., The Procrastination Equation). Reason: Even the best coaching resources tend to gather dust/rust over time—so best to revisit them periodically for a refresher course.
  21. I will research and follow up on creating a “personal brand” website for myself (e.g., https://about.me/). Reason: It’s important not only for enhancing presence in search engine results pages (SERP), but also because it offers greater control over personal branding than third-party sites such as LinkedIn.
  22. I will get more up-to-speed on career apps for my smartphone. Reason: Related to resolution number 8 above, the working world is fast moving in the direction of mobile and cloud-based applications—so it helps to be conversant in these, in addition to helping manage downtime more efficiently/effectively.
  23. I will replace any overused buzzwords on my LinkedIn profile with metrics and/or testimonials. Reason: Words like these connote laziness or lack of creativity on the part of job seekers—and can become yellow or red flags in terms of keyword search results (at best, they dilute one’s personal branding with clichés).
  24. I will research programs and applications that leverage both recent trends and my in-person presentation strengths (e.g., video resumes, infographics, etc.). Reason: The way career attributes are presented can matter as much or more than what is said or demonstrated. The static resume and cover letter alone are no longer sufficient to make a breakthrough impact.
  25. I will make a more concerted effort each week to get off the computer and get out of the house. Reason: The freshest and highest-quality job leads are being generated through direct, two-way interaction, and not through clogged, profile-homogenizing “job boards.”
  26. I will practice my 30-second pitch (while continuing to craft/refine my larger personal narrative, mission/vision, or story). Reason: Although many respected career resources have weighed in against the rote recitation of self-serving commercials, these do have some applicability in speed-networking types of situations.
  27. I will attend at least one major job-search-related conference, event or trade show every quarter (e.g., JobCentral). Reason: Sometimes the best way to get in front of the most hiring managers, recruiters and/or career assistance professionals is to immerse yourself in an intensive, one-day event, provided that you follow up readily and comprehensively.
  28. I will look into additional educational resources and/or certifications to help broaden and extend my career scope (e.g., Workforce Investment Act [WIA]) grant. Reason: Having accredited institutions and trade organizations vouch for your competence in given areas is one more way to elevate your value proposition above those of similarly qualified job seekers.
  29. I will assertively seek opportunities to interact face-to-face with a wide and large variety of savvy career professionals. Reason: In the new workplace, 40 percent of employees work with more than 20 people on a given day, and more than 80 percent work with ten according to Corporate Executive Board (CEB) research.
  30. I will continue to work on my active listening skills; i.e., giving full attention to what other people are saying; taking time to understand the points being made; asking questions as appropriate; and not interrupting. Reason: Active Listening skills are found in nine out of the 10 most in-demand jobs.

Additional sources: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2012/12/13/how-to-get-a-new-job-in-2013/

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