The countdown to Christmas is well on its way but even as we’re winding down, decking the halls and filling our boots with Christmas goodies, we’re conscious that January is fast approaching. Come January, we will (as is custom) assess our lives in the harsh light of the New Year – as opposed to the warm glow of Christmastime. For many of us, the end result will be to come to the conclusion that actually, we’re doing okay. For others, it will be to realise that there’s still room for improvement. That means deep diving into the chaos that is the January job rush. January has long held a reputation for being the most popular time to look for a job, with google searches peaking in January last year. However, applying for positions doesn’t pick up until February, with competition levels increasing by 12.5% from Jan to Feb. To stay ahead of the rush, it’s important to start planning and prepping your next move ahead of January; that way, you’re ready to hit the ground running come the New Year. We’ve created a shortlist of simple tips to help you plan over Christmas (while allowing you time to take a well-earned break). If you’d like to get even further ahead, take a look at some of the roles available on our website or book a call in with one of our industry specialists to find out what the New Year could hold for you.
1. Make a career plan
Make a detailed career plan before you jump into job hunting. The end of the year marks the perfect time for some tough love, so look back and reflect on the positives and negatives – what’s going well, what isn’t, what you enjoy and want to focus on and which elements of your role you aren’t so happy with. Consider what your options are in terms of moving forward – is moving internally an option? Do you have any contacts in industries you’re interested in that you could reach out to (see below)? Where are the best places to find the roles you’re looking for? What are the top companies?
Once you’ve outlined where to move, you can then define the how and when. Research examples of job specifications online or profiles of successful contacts that you admire. Be critical to identify how you stack up – are you a diamond in the rough or are you polished up and prepped to go? If the former, work out how you can get there – that might be taking up freelancing, volunteering or hitting the books – and then you can assess the ‘when’. Your career plan should break down actions into clear, achievable actions. This begins with easy, measurable steps that can be taken each day and incorporated into your 12 (or more) days of Christmas, such as finding a local meet-up or networking group in your chosen field. The important thing is to be realistic, but stay ambitious.
2. Network with acquaintances old and new
Whether you’re looking for a career change or internal progression, there’s no better time to reach out to your network than over Christmas. Use office Christmas parties to strike up conversations with colleagues you may not normally speak to and raise your profile in the company. Keep it professional but personable to make an impression and you might be surprised by the doors opened to you in the future.
Similarly, use the free time to get in touch with some familiar faces – research the movements of your ex-colleagues and alumni networks to identify potential opportunities and schedule in a catch-up over the holidays. Use this time to remind them of your skillset and experience, discuss your aspirations and ensure they keep you in mind for future openings. Crucially, make sure you follow-up in the New Year to firm up relationships while people are still basking in the afterglow of Christmas and are more receptive to your needs.
3. Give your profile a makeover
While you’ve got that sceptic’s hat on, make sure that you give your profile a thorough look over. Treat your CV clinically, breaking down each individual role and skillset to ensure that you are putting yourself in the strongest possible position for the career that you want. We’re a big believer in tailoring your CV for each role, but if you can get the basics right now, it will save you a lot of time later down the line. You could even ask one of your alumni contacts in your network to give you a few pointers (see above), or speak to one of Lorien’s consultants for advice on how to structure your CV to get the most out of applications.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to show your social media profile some TLC too. LinkedIn is a 24/7 research tool for recruiters, business leaders and prospective hiring managers and is an essential tool to increase your reach. For instance, just bear in mind that keeping your positions up-to-date can make you 18x more likely to be discovered and those with five or more skills listed are up to 33x more likely to be contacted by LinkedIn members. Make sure your profile is up-to-date and comprehensive, you’re connected with relevant contacts and that you are engaging with interesting content on a regular basis. Oh, and don’t forget to tap on the ‘Let Recruiters Know You’re Open’ toggle.
A large chunk of your career plan should be taken up by research. That’s researching your industry, future skills and challenges and prospective employers. Subscribe to industry magazines, listen to podcasts or follow thought leaders to find out just how your market is moving and identify where your skills could fit the niche. Join groups on LinkedIn and attend meet-ups to see a breadth of opinions and give weight to your understanding of ‘hot topics’. Not only can this be woven into your profile or online footprint to show that you’re up-to-date on salient topics, but it can also be used in interviews to give your answers credibility. Impress hiring managers by presenting yourself as a forward-thinking and read-up candidate, as opposed to another tick in the box.
You can also research prospective companies to gain an insight into their business strategy, upcoming initiatives (including potential recruitment drives) and company values. Blogs and social media pages can serve as an invaluable tool for delving deep into a company’s inner workings.
5. Work on your presentation skills
If you haven’t interviewed in a while, chances are, your presentation skills are going to be a bit on the rusty side. Thankfully, Christmas means that you’ll have a whole host of willing victims to practice presenting to – from your brother-in-law to the next door neighbour. That doesn’t necessarily mean delivering your elevator pitch though – presenting can simply mean finding ways to talk about your role succinctly, explaining why you’re ready to move on and what you think you have to offer future employers, as well as being honest about your weaknesses. Let relatives help you to come up with examples and case studies and keep a pen and paper handy for any brain waves you may have. Come January, you’ll have started to build up a script. Now all you have to do is rehearse.
Above all else, use Christmas to unwind and get some breathing space. Do your homework but make sure that you also spend time with your friends and family, indulging in Christmas treats and celebrating the year in style – you’ve earned your break, so enjoy it. Only by doing this, can you hope to come into the New Year with a fresh, positive outlook on your future and a clear plan for how to make it happen.