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New Year, New Job Search: 5 Steps to Stick to Your Resolution

Posted December 17, 2019

When the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, many will kick off 2020 with high hopes. They’ve compiled a list of New Year’s resolutions— and are itching to make some serious changes. 

If “finding a new job” made your list, you’ve got a busy start to the year ahead. 

Instead of rushing in and applying January 1st, make time to prepare for your transition. New opportunities— and hopefully higher pay— await, with the help of these five actionable steps for sticking to your resolution:  

1. Get clear about what you’re really looking for.

If you haven’t already, get to the bottom of why you’re looking for a new job— and be real with yourself about what you need and want with the next one. 

Pull out a blank sheet of paper and jot down what you want to see different this time around, with a few ideas for how you can ensure it happens:

  • If the job is a bad culture fit, sit down and articulate what about the culture doesn’t align with your values, and create a short list of non-negotiables you want at the next job. For instance, if you want a team who values integrity above all, jot that down and define what exactly that means to you— so you can remember to ask about it in your interviews. 
  • If you have a bad boss, reflect on why they are a poor leader and what you need from the next person to fill those shoes. Also consider how you might have contributed to the tension and consider ways you can ensure you don’t add to the equation in your next job. 
  • If your role has become stagnant and you’re not learning new skills, make note to research new brand’s value on learning, and ask how the future employer promotes personal development. For example, if there’s a certification you really want to advance your skills, list it here and ask future employers if they could pay for you to complete it. 
  • If there’s no promotion in sight, look for a company that promises a climb up the corporate ladder, or opportunities to scale up in management, get generous raises, etc.

These are just a few things to consider. Take the time during this first step to really reflect on what bothers you about your current job and on your goals the next. This is extremely important, as it sets the landscape for every decision moving forward.

2. Ask yourself if you need a job change or a career change.

Sometimes during this first discovery step, people realize that what they might benefit from a complete career change— not just a new job doing the same thing they already do.

But before you reinvent the wheel, do some thinking. You may be able to use your same skill set in a different industry, or in a slightly different role or job title than you currently hold. 

There’s a lot that goes into making the decision for a career shift, and if you’re on the fence about whether this is the right choice, be sure to read our other article on making a career change.

3. List every action with its time investment.

Your next step in preparing for your New Year’s job search is to estimate what needs to be done and how much time you’ll need to complete each task. Project managers call this “defining your scope,” and we’ll use this data to help us set up a timeline in our next step. 

Your tasks and time estimate might look something like this:

  • Reinventing/sprucing up your resume copy and design — 2 hours
  • Updating your LinkedIn — 30 minutes
  • Having two trusted industry professionals review and send feedback on your resume, and making updates — 1.5 hours
  • Initially browsing job boards and posting your new resume — 30 minutes
  • Finding jobs that interest you, researching the brands and applying to at least two jobs a week — 6 hours per week
  • Following up and getting interviewed — 3 hours per week

In this example, you’d be spending 4.5 hours per week just preparing to apply to new jobs, and then another potential 9 hours per week actually applying and interviewing. 

After mapping these out, you’ll have a good sense of how you’ll need to manage your time to follow-through on your commitment.

4. Define a target timeline with milestones.

Now that you have a rough estimate of how much time you’ll need to invest in your career change, you can define a more realistic timeline for reaching your end goal.

Let’s say you want to prepare your resume and start job searching by mid-January. You can then set milestones along the way to help mark a clear end in sight. 

For instance, although you don’t know how many jobs you’ll have to apply to before you get a new position or exactly how long it might take, you might aim to have at least one interview by the end of January. 

You may create a timeline that looks something like this:

If when looking at the sample calendar, you start to sweat with all these tasks— don’t worry.

You may be surprised to discover that January isn’t always the best time to apply for a new job. Although more job listings are posted this month than any other, competition is much higher, and your odds of being picked for the position are actually lower, according to CNBC.

Be sure to research when is the best time to apply in your industry, and map out a realistic timeline that works around your schedule. 

5. Reward yourself for your hard work!

By setting up “micro-goals” and rewards for hitting them— like treating yourself to a nice dinner, buying that new blazer for your soon-to-be interview, etc.— you’ll keep yourself motivated. 

If you run out of ideas for celebrating each win as it happens, consider referencing your timeline at the end of the week. If you did all that you set out to do, give yourself a Sunday treat. 

Feeling Overwhelmed? 

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