New Year, New Job: 10 Tips to Kick-Start Your Job Search

'Get a better job' noted in calendar for first day of the month Shamleen / Shutterstock.com

The new year is a time for new opportunities, a time to better yourself and tackle an area where you’ve been meaning to improve on for a while. But if you don’t want to waste your New Year’s resolution on weight loss or fitness regimes that you definitely won’t stick to, then why not set your sights on something that won’t be forgotten by the end of the month?

The beginning of the year is a great time to start looking for a new job. Companies will have already been given their yearly budgets and will have an allocated allowance for new hires. Recruiters will be refreshed after their Christmas break and will be in high spirits to find a suitable candidate like you.

So, if you’re looking to change jobs or generally advance within your career, you should make it your main priority in the new year.

And to help you stay on track, we’ve listed some useful tips to kick-start your job search!

1. Update Your CV

Before you even begin your job searching journey, you should update your CV to ensure you have a master template ready to be amended at any time. Regardless of whether you’re job seeking or not, it’s important to update your CV or résumé every 6 to 12 months (at the least) to ensure your latest skills and achievements are noted.

It’s also important to tailor your CV to the position you are applying for, ensuring that related keywords appear throughout your CV. Don’t go down the generic route, though; you could mention that you’re an organised and multi-tasking employee, but hiring managers are inundated with these common phrases and are neither phased nor impressed by basic keywords.

2. Make a List of Ideal Jobs

When beginning your job search, you need to implement some kind of strategy, instead of blindingly applying to anything you think you’d be good at. Chances are this will result in a stagnated job search six months down the line.

Instead, make a list of ideal jobs that you’d like to do. Think of this as a new slate, a shot at pursuing a career that you once dreamt of doing.

Remember: it’s far more important to focus on the quality of your applications, rather than the quantity. You should spend more time finding something that you’d like to do and not something that you can do.

3. Contact Your Dream Companies

Now that you’ve identified what type of job you want to do, it’s time to target your dream companies, even if they aren’t currently advertising any new vacancies.

There’s no harm in writing a polite email explaining that you’d love to work with them, listing the reasons you think you’d be a good match and why you’d want to work there in the first place. This not only shows that you’re proactive, but it also proves that you’d be a loyal employee.

4. Identify Key Skills

Instead of focusing on job titles, look at the requirements and key skills. You’ll be surprised to find suitable positions with alternative titles when you look hard enough.

By identifying your skills, you’ll be more focused on your strengths and abilities, and will, therefore, be able to find more beneficial roles that will support your ability to perform well. By doing so, you can expand your search and target different positions.

5. Invest in Your Development

To keep the momentum going, you could invest in your development by advancing and enhancing your skills. There are many ways to do this – short courses, side gigs and personal studies are all great for career growth.

There’s always room for improvement, so stay up to date with industry trends and show that you have an edge above the other candidates. If you’re also trying to break into another industry, meanwhile, you could consider volunteering at a related establishment on the weekends – this shows that you have relevant experience in the field.

6. Network, Network, Network!

Hiding behind a computer screen can only get you so far; if you really want to tap into new opportunities, start networking. Reach out to existing connections, and consider making new ones by attending industry events, alumni mixers and informal interviews.

Start talking with people in the types of jobs that you’re interested in. It’s a great way to see if there are any vacancies at their company or if they know someone else that would refer you. According to the Undercover Recruiter, ‘employee referrals have the highest applicant-to-hire conversion rate – only 7% apply, but this accounts for 40% of all hires’.

7. Update Your Social Profiles

An up-to-date LinkedIn profile is far more impressive than a standard two-page CV; you not only get to connect with industry professionals at the click of a button, but you also have the chance of having a private conversation with them.

By interacting with businesses and sharing industry news, you can soon become a staple figure within your field. That said, you need to make sure you use the correct keywords that will help people find you on LinkedIn - for example, if you’re a digital marketer, specify what your specialities are in your title, like so:

Digital Marketer / PPC & SEO Specialist

8. Contact Recruiters

Although you shouldn’t solely rely on the help of recruiters or headhunters, they can deliver opportunities that aren’t available online. The beauty about recruiters is that they help you sell your skills to hiring managers and they can also negotiate a better salary than you would have done on your own (mainly to increase their commission).

If you work in a field where there’s a shortage of talent, you’ll be an ideal fit for a recruiter’s dream list – they will be able to sell your skills and match you to the position that you’re needed. However, if you work in a job where there is a large pool of candidates, it may be harder for a recruitment agent to help you.

9. Ace the Interview

Your interview is the last big hurdle in your job search process. By this point, you’ve likely already impressed the hiring manager with your knockout CV; now you just need to show that you’re a great culture fit and prove that you indeed have the skills you claim you do!

This is why preparing for an interview is so important. Spend time researching the company, preparing answers to common questions, as well as picking a suitable outfit and hairstyle. The entire package is what the hiring manager is after, so make sure you provide just that.

And don’t forget to follow up with a 'thank you' note after your interview! Many candidates tend to oversee this step, but it’s an extra shot of reminding the hiring manager who you are and why you’re a good fit for the job.

10. Negotiate a Better Salary

If you’ve successfully passed all the interview rounds, you’ll most likely be offered a position, but don’t accept anything without first considering what’s on offer. If the salary is the reason you left your previous job, you don’t want the same thing to happen again now.

Consider negotiating a salary, or at least ask for a review after you successfully complete your probation (if the salary is non-negotiable). Nevertheless, don’t forget to take into consideration any bonuses, special offers and other rewards that the company might offer.

The new year is the perfect chance to secure a new job. Your spirits are high, your motivation is blooming, and nothing is stopping you from advancing within your career – especially with these tips!

What goals have you set yourself for the following year? Join in on the conversation below to let us know!