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4 Tips for Job Search Success in the New Year

Happy new year! If you’re in job-search mode, here are a few tips to jump-start your efforts in this new season.

  1. Get prepared before you leap into action.

Even Superman took time to change into his superhero clothes. If you leap before you’re fully prepared, you may crash and burn rather than soaring to success.

Being prepared means:

  • Having a great resume and LinkedIn profile. With all of the resources, advice, and professional services available to you, there’s absolutely no excuse for having bad or even mediocre job-search materials. Your resume and profile are the foundation for all of your job-search efforts, so make that foundation as strong as possible!
  • Knowing how to introduce yourself. I am not an advocate of the traditional 3-minute “elevator pitch,” but I am strongly in favor of preparing and practicing how you are going to introduce yourself in a variety of situations – in an interview, at a networking event, in an email to people you know or don’t know, in a casual meeting at a coffee shop … you get the picture. What you say in those situations sets the tone for the entire interaction. Practice so that your intro is clear and confident.
  • Having a strategy and a plan. Plans are guidelines that keep you focused and help you make good decisions. Think about your ideal job, target companies, and preferred environments, and create a plan to help you achieve your goal.
  1. Focus on your targets.

Once you’ve clearly defined what you want, you can concentrate on those contacts and companies that are most relevant.

This is not to say that you should ignore peripheral opportunities, or that your path toward your goal will be straight and smooth. But keep coming back to those targets, and vet every opportunity to see if it matches what you have decided is important to you.

  1. Minimize unproductive activities.

I am not going to tell you to ignore posted job openings that you find on job boards and executive sites. (I know you won’t listen!) But I will advise you to limit the time you spend pursuing these “easy” opportunities, because chances are slim that you will actually land a job – or even an interview – this way.

Your best chance for finding your next opportunity is through a personal referral from someone you know or someone you can get to know. That’s been true for centuries and still remains true today.

So allow yourself a little time to pick that low-hanging fruit (the job postings). Scan them for information and apply if you wish. Then put them out of your mind and do the real work of job search: finding connections to people at your target companies.

  1. Invest in interview training.

Please don’t try to wing it. Interviews are stress-inducing experiences with high stakes, and even the most charming, expert, and verbally adroit executive can benefit from interview preparation.

Spend some time—with a colleague, a confidante, or a professional coach—clarifying your value statements, preparing to answer “typical” interview questions, and practicing your success stories.

In my experience, most executives need help:

  • Introducing themselves – answering the “tell me about yourself” question.
  • Getting to the point – editing their rambling responses to what’s meaningful.
  • Finishing stories with results and strategic impact.
  • Dealing with negative questions and not-so-positive experiences.
  • Covering all of the points they want to make in an interview.
  • Asking the right questions.

The good news is that the start of every year is a great time to find a new opportunity. And job search is like any endeavor: Preparation and practice will lead to better performance.

Here’s to your success in the new year!

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