January – cold, dark, and full of possibilities. It’s normal to feel a bit forlorn at this time of year. After all, it’s sad when the festive license to gratuitously eat, drink and spend expires. Taking down Christmas decorations is much less exciting than putting them up. You can no longer use “it’s December!” to defend round-the-clock indulgence. The temptation to wallow in post-Christmas nostalgia can be pressing, but that’s not what January is all about. It’s a time to mentally crack the whip, decide what you’d like to improve in your life, and start putting your plan into motion. If you want to get fit or learn a new skill, chances are you’ll know how to make that happen. But what if it’s a change of career that’s been playing on your mind? Now is certainly the time to shake things up – just make sure you’ve covered a few bases first:
Once your CV is up to date, check on your LinkedIn profile. Have you gained any new skills which may be worth adding? Are you connected to everyone you know? Have you tried to connect with those who you suspect are worth knowing? LinkedIn is the Facebook of the business world, and if you aren’t making the most of your profile, you’re blocking yourself from great networking opportunities before you start.
Rather than wait for a prospective employer to call one of your referees and catch them off-guard, notify them in advance. Tell them the sort of position you’re looking for, and why you think the role would be well-suited to you. A strong reference can do wonders when it comes to being an attractive hire. There’s no sense in wasting an easy way to score extra points.
Mull over your previous job applications, and try to pinpoint what you could have done better. Were you setting aside enough time in the week to apply for jobs? Did you always tailor your cover letter to fit the role? The same goes for interviews. Were you dressed smartly? Did you thoroughly research the company? Had you bought a list of questions along with you? You want to maximise your chance of a good first impression – so learn from past errors, always follow up, and don’t think for a second that you’ll get away with winging it.
More and more employers now use social media as a means of screening new potential hires. So, as well as polishing up your LinkedIn, run a critical eye over your other social media platforms to safeguard yourself from unnecessary rejection. You don’t need to delete every inch of evidence that suggests you have a life outside work, but be smart about it. Adjust your privacy settings so only trusted companions can view your moments of weakness over the years. Never post anything negative about previous companies you’ve worked for. And take a moment to reconsider the wisdom of the profile picture which exposes you as a drunken, scantily clad degenerate.
Ok, so perhaps not with your current boss or colleagues. But discussing what your ideal job would be and what skills you’d be able to bring to the role with your family and friends is a great way to practice for interviews. This will not only make your technique and interview answers more natural, but it should also help to reinforce why you’re making the decision in the first place.
Searching for jobs and going to interviews can be wearing, particularly when you’re also working in a full-time position. But remaining upbeat is just about the most important thing you can do – the only way to guarantee you won’t get a job you love is if you give up. Make sure that before sending every application and walking through the door of any interview, you remind yourself that you’d be an asset to their company. If you let a negative mindset get the better of you, there’s a good chance it’ll come across in practice.