This article was originally published on Huffington Post by Mary Eileen Williams
This is the time for making New Year's resolutions... and, if you're looking for work, there's no better time to maximize your efforts than now!
The months of January and February represent the strongest hiring period of the year. New projects, initiatives and budgets are put into place. Organizations need employees to carry out their plans, so hiring takes off at the beginning of the year. Therefore, as a savvy job-seeker of maturity, you'll want to power-up your job search and position yourself as the attractive and valuable candidate you are.
Here are three winning resolutions to help you do just that:
1. Make certain your skills are current. There is no way an applicant can be successful without the requisite skills to do the job. This is especially true for mature job-seekers -- the popular perception being that older candidates lack the technical skills to compete with younger applicants.
The good news is that there are several low-fee and free websites that will supply you with these necessary skills. Check them out and make sure to give yourself that all-important competitive edge.
- Lynda.com For $25 a month, you'll get unlimited access to over 2000 (mainly technical and creative) video tutorials
- GCFlearnfree.org Boasts more than 750 free lessons in technology, math, ESL and more
- Microsoft Office Training Learn the MS Office Suite for free
- OpenCulture.com Links to scores of free, high quality training videos for both cultural and educational subjects
2) Power-up your resume. Today's technology has made the art of writing a compelling, attention-grabbing resume even more critical to your success. And considering the level of competition out there for each and every job, yours needs to be topnotch. To make certain your resume will make the cut, be sure to ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my resume easy to scan so that my key selling points catch the eye of the reviewer? Most resume reviewers spend 30-seconds or less determining whether or not your resume is worth their time. Therefore your critical skills and accomplishments need to literally leap out at the reader and draw the reviewer's attention immediately -- a swift glance is all the time your resume will get.
- Am I highlighting the results I've achieved and quantifying them whenever possible? The results you've produced at previous positions are critical to crafting a compelling resume. Consequently, it's essential that you stress your accomplishments and describe them by showing how you've saved money, reduced time to market and/or increased sales. By highlighting your achievements and validating them with numbers, resume reviewers and hiring managers will get a real-world sense of both your capabilities and your work ethic.
- Am I targeting my resume to each position for which I apply? Without question, customization is key in today's job market! Modern applicant tracking systems will only display resumes that contain the requisite skills for the position. If yours does not, it will be lost in the black hole of cyberspace -- unseen by human eyes.
3) Network proactively. Any savvy job-seeker knows that people get people jobs. You're far more likely to land your next position by way of networking than by any other means. So, rather than waste your contacts' valuable time, make certain you're using your network in a way that will move your search forward.
Before you reach out to contacts beyond your immediate circle of friends and acquaintances, determine your primary goal(s) for the interaction.
- Are you looking for information on specific companies?
- Do you want their thoughts on hiring trends/potential growth areas within your industry?
- Will you be asking for specific advice on your career options and ways you might strengthen your position as a candidate?
- Do you want feedback on your resume?
- Can this person supply you with names of additional contacts?
The more specific you can be, the more focused and professional you will appear. Also, be certain to follow up each networking interaction with a thank you note/email mentioning specific ways you are following through with your contact's suggestions. This will show your network that their time was well spent with you and they are far more likely to want to help you in the future.
Most of all, remember to present yourself with confidence, energy and enthusiasm. Your attitude underscores everything you do. Take pride in your skills, your unique personal strengths and qualities and your value as a potential employee. Recognizing all you have to offer is, bar none, the very best resolution of them all!
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success. Updated in 2013, it's packed with even more critical information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools they need to gain the edge over the competition and successfully navigate the modern job market. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!