At the beginning of every year, it's common to have new years resolutions and new goals. New Year, New You. But why are new goals and aspirations typically set only at the beginning of the year? For example, why is my gym is insanely packed this month (grr for stealing my parking) as compared to previous months? Call me crazy, but we should be goal setting at all times of the year; we should not make excuses or procrastinate when to start. It's common for people to re-evaluate their careers at the beginning of the year (or Q1 in general). How do I know? Because as a recruiter, Q1 is often one of the busiest times of the year; annual strategy plans are introduced, headcount opens up, new requisitions are opened, and recruiters get flooded with candidate inquires now more than ever. I personally have about 5 friends who are either in the midst of finding a new job and/or seriously considering a career change. As their friend in HR/Recruiting, I oftentimes get asked for advice on how to approach a job change.
If you are looking for a career change or new job this year, here are a few of my suggestions on where to start:
1) Deep soul search. Job searching = soul searching. Think of it this way: we spend a majority of our time in the office. Multiply that over a course of a life time. In retrospect, think of all the hours you have spent at the office -- that's a lot of sacrifice! So when you are job searching, find something you would enjoy. Ask yourself the "why" behind what you are doing, or what you want to accomplish. Do you find passion in your work? What is the big picture of how you will contribute back to society? Where do you want to be in the next 5, 10, 15 years, and how does your next role help you to get there? These are all questions you should be thinking about on the high level when considering a switch.
2) Research! If you are not sure about what career path to take, do your homework: research positions that sound interesting and connect with people who are already in those roles. Sometimes reading job descriptions and articles online may not give you an accurate or whole picture. Find people you know and trust to give you a firsthand account. Ask friends of friends. If you can't think of any in your network, refer to LinkedIn. Don't be shy when asking a stranger about their occupation -- people are more willing to help than you might think (in most cases, people love talking about themselves).
3) Networking. This pretty much goes without saying: you need to network as much as you can. Cast a wide network of people in different industries and occupations, as diversity may come in handy. Make sure to also maintain these relationships because you never know when your paths might cross in the future. Even if you are long-term planning and don't plan on making a move anytime soon, start developing your network now.
4) Stay active and assertive in your search. Many times, candidates will submit their resume through a job board, and simply wait around to hear back. Newsflash - this isn't the most effective way to find a job. Candidates need to be assertive and keep on top of their job search - exhaust all options! Have you tried getting a referral directly in the company? What about having a second degree connection submit your resume? Have you tried emailing the recruiter directly? What about the hiring manager? Unless you have received a direct rejection, you can keep trying. If you ever feel left out in the dark in your interviewing process, you should always ping your recruiter to see what's going on (trust, it's our job to make sure candidates are crystal clear in where they stand).
5) Stand out. If you land an interview, make sure to properly prepare. You need to research the company, thoroughly understand what they do, and have good questions lined up to ask your interviewer. Whenever candidates respond with "I don't know much about your company" or have boring generic questions, it's a huge turn off to the interviewer. They could probably find other candidates that are more enthusiastic. Find ways to differentiate yourself from other candidates by asking thought provoking/engaging questions, showing that you know wsup with the company/industry, and going in prepared (meaning, you know the numbers on the top of your head, you have work samples ready, etc). As always, be polite and show proper business etiquette.
6) Stay Positive! Job searching is nerve wrecking and it takes a toll on your state of mind. It's dreadful to wait around in the dark and to not be sure where you stand in the process. Constantly worrying and stressing during your job search won't do you any good, so stop it. Remember that you only have control over certain things - so instead of worrying and sitting around waiting, be active and focus on the things you actually have control over. For example, you have the control over whether you wish to attend networking events or apply for more jobs. There are a ton of alternative ways ("back routes" as I like to call them) to get where you wish to be, so stay optimistic and keep trying.