If you’ve pledged to make 2019 the year to find a new job, here’s some good news: It’s a job seeker’s market.
There’s nearly one job opening for each unemployed person, according to the latest government data.
“It’s a super hot job market, so take advantage of it,” said Marc Cenedella, founder of job search website Ladders. “Employers are hurting for talent.”
But job hunting can still be daunting, especially if you’ve been in your current job for several years.
“If you’ve been with a company for an extensive amount of time, one of the hardest things to do is leverage yourself to effectively market yourself for the next role,” said Wendi Weiner, an attorney and career expert.
Identify your specialty
The first step is figuring out what you want to do.
And you need to get specific. Take the time to evaluate the pros and cons of your current employer and position, and what you want for your future. Identify your professional strengths, areas of expertise and the unique skills you can bring to a potential employer.
“You aren’t going to get the best response from the market if you have a wide variety of different jobs you can do,” said Cenedella.
Update your resume
Now that you’ve identified your areas of expertise, it’s time to promote them in your resume.
When you do start submitting resumes, make sure each one is tailored for that specific job.
Having a strong professional summary near the top of your resume helps give employers a quick snapshot of what you can bring to the table.
If you’ve been in the workforce for a few decades, you don’t have to list all your previous jobs. Curate your history to fit the position you’re applying for.
“The idea is to look at your career experience, and have a chronology of your work history from a ‘what’s relevant to my skill set’ standpoint in your professional career trajectory,” said Weiner. Your resume shouldn’t be a laundry list of job responsibilities and functions, she added.
It should also include examples of results and contributions you have made at your current company along with the skills and solutions you will bring to an employer. Showcasing quantitative results like sales numbers and awards is helpful, but don’t overlook more qualitative achievements, like managing a key project or creating a new effective workflow strategy.
A resume shouldn’t read as a biography, but more of an advertisement, advised Cenedella
“No one is hiring for a VP of everything, that is not a job title,” he said. “You have to be specific in what you want in order to address the needs of a future boss.”
Don’t underestimate the power of networking when it comes to finding new opportunities.
Join professional associations, connect with people in the field or company you are interested in working for on LinkedIn and attend applicable conferences and social gatherings.
But here’s the harsh reality: Most people don’t like to be networked, so focus more on creating relationships and connections.
When reaching out to new people, introduce yourself and explain you are interested in learning more about the contact’s position and company and ask for an informational call or meeting.
“If the relationship is reciprocated and they are willing to get on the telephone with you, that can lead to something bigger,” said Weiner.
Don’t attach your resume to the initial email. “Take the opportunity to open the door and build a relationship and rapport with them first. You really want to show you are looking to learn from them and gain more insights into the company.”
And don’t overlook tapping your already-established connections for potential opportunities.
“Create deeper connections with the people you already know,” suggested Maggie Mistal, a career consultant and executive coach. “If you put yourself out there in a different way and don’t have the same old conversations, you can start to explore other passions and interests.”
For people you already know but haven’t seen in a while, Cenedella recommended asking them to coffee, breakfast or lunch to catch up and then ask them if you can use them as a reference, not a job.
“It’s flattering and now you have an ally on your side,” he said.
It’s time to increase your professional online activity. LinkedIn is a major playing field for recruiters, so make sure your profile is complete and up to date.
Re-energize your brand
It’s also helpful to create posts and comment on other articles and posts on LinkedIn.
“People will see those things in their feeds and you post and engage, they will see your name come up again and again so if you do end up reaching out they will know who you are,” said April Klimkiewicz, a career coach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Remember: It takes time
Finding the right job won’t happen overnight. An October survey shows a job search can take about five months on average.
But don’t automatically jump at the first opportunity that comes along. When interviewing with a potential employer, ask questions to make sure it’s the right fit for you as well.
“You don’t want to jump ship from a place where you have longevity and make a bad move,” Weiner advised. “Take a slower approach with the search.”