It’s hard to fathom, the year that we thought would drag on forever is nearing an end. You could spend the next twelve days chilling, gaming or binge watching The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix and seeing Elf for the umteenth time without anyone judging you. We all deserve time to decompress and get our heads together after such a brutal time period.
In-between work, zoom holiday parties and calls with family you could also start proactively planning and preparing for 2021. The next year is likely to be awesome. Vaccines are already being distributed to combat the health crisis. As we start to see a decline in cases and casualties, the collective mood of the country and world will improve. Companies will feel emboldened to start hiring again. By the second quarter of 2021 the world will look better and 2020 will seem like a distant bad memory. To take advantage of the upturn, without too much pressure, here is what you can do each day until the end of the year to position yourself for success.
Day One: Pick-up the phone, get on a Zoom call, email or text everyone you know and wish them a happy holiday season. Ask them “how are you?” and “how’s the family?” Inquire if they are faring well and ask if they need any help. Make the call all about the other person. Be sincere and listen to them as they talk. Offer praise, encouragement and support. Don’t make it about you.
The purpose of the call is to set the stage. The recipient of the call will hold you in high esteem. They’ll feel glad and flattered that you showered them with attention. You’ll have the halo effect of being a nice, sensitive person. Once the New Year starts, you should reach out once again. This time around allow the conversation to veer back to you. Share that you are looking for a job and could use some help. Find out if they know people at the companies you want to work for. Politely ask if they can get your resume in front of the right person and offer a sterling recommendation to the hiring manager.
Day Two: Take a fresh new look at your resume, LinkedIn profile and social media footprint. You probably haven’t dusted off your resume or reviewed your LinkedIn profile in a while. Add new achievements, responsibilities, promotions and anything else that makes you shine and stand out.
Recruiters, hiring managers and human resource professionals will look at your social media postings. It’s not that they’re trying to be creepy stalkers, they just want to gain a better sense of who you are and if you’re the right cultural fit for the company. With this in mind, take the time to search what you’ve posted in the past. Your postings should show the value you offer to a potential employer. Think of how a hiring manager or human resources professional would view your social media footprint. Immediately delete any questionable, inappropriate or inflammatory Tweets and Facebook postings.
Day Three: Engage in an authentic branding and marketing campaign on social media. The key is to showcase your skills, ability, knowledge, achievements and brilliance. You also need to broadcast what you are looking to do next, so people are aware of how they can help you. It shouldn’t just be a one-way street. Offer to help others in need too.
The best way to start branding yourself on LinkedIn is by commenting, sharing, writing posts and articles and making short videos. The content should focus on your area of expertise. You can start slowly by liking and addressing the postings of others. Find leaders in your field with large followings. Get involved in their conversations to amplify your own voice. When you post online, your specific skills and subject-matter expertise will serve as the message sent out to prospective hiring managers, human resource professionals, recruiters and other people who can help you land a new job.
Day Four: If you’re not gaining traction in your job search after months of trying, it’s time to take stock of what you’ve been doing. It’s not easy to engage in critical self-introspection. You’d like to believe that you’re doing everything right, but no one is giving you a chance. That could be the case, but to play it safe, it makes sense to conduct a self-assessment and audit of your actions to determine if you’re doing your best in pursuit of a new job.
It’s easy to become jaded, frustrated and angry with the interview process. It’s particularly stressful when we’re in the midst of a pandemic, millions of people are out of work, you’re stuck at home and the news seems bleak. Although it’s understandable to feel aggrieved, you can’t let it show during the interview process. Hiring managers, recruiters and human resource professionals desire people who are positive, motivated, sharp and exude confidence.
To find out if you’re coming across poorly, conduct interview roleplaying with others and ask for their critical feedback. You may also want to enlist the help of career coaches and recruiters who can offer advice on how to improve your performance.
Day Five: Your goal may be to find a new job but you need a system to make it happen. Starting January first, your New Year’s resolution may be to lose the pandemic ten pounds you’ve gained. It’s great to have a goal but it’s a futile exercise if you lack a system to achieve it. For example, to lose weight, find a nutritionist who could assist you with an appropriate diet. If you’re comfortable with the risk, go to the gym and have a trainer design a workout schedule. If not, buy a Peloton Bicycle or do Yoga along with a YouTube video.
The same method holds true for embarking upon the goal of finding a new job or climbing the corporate ladder. It’s easy to say “my boss is a jerk and I’m going to get a new job” but it has to be followed-up with an action plan. To obtain a new job, especially in a challenging environment, you need a solid system in place. Devote a specified amount of time each day towards the hunt focusing on all the aspects you need to do to win a new job.
Day Six: Ask for a raise, promotion or bonus. You believe that you’ve worked hard, did a great job and deserve a raise and bonus. It sounds simple in your head. When it’s time to actually sit across the desk from your boss, it’s not so easy. It’s an uncomfortable conversation filled with potential landmines. Here’s what you should never say in your annual review:
“If I don’t get the money I have asked for, I’m quitting!”
“I have bills, tuition payments and car payments!”
“I’m the only one who really works around here!”
“I do your job for you!”
“If you don’t pay me more, I won’t work as hard.”
Here’s what you should do instead. You want to enter the manager’s office armed with indisputable data, facts and information that highlight everything you’ve accomplished over the last year. Explain what was expected of you and validate how you have met and exceeded those expectations. You need to cite your achievements, including how you have helped your boss succeed, and made sizable contributions to the company.
Day Seven: Practice your elevator pitch. If you are interviewing or conversing with recruiters, human resources and other professionals, it is imperative to have a captivating elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a term used to describe yourself, your business, gig or current project. Visualize yourself in an elevator ride with an executive at a company you’d like to work for. You need to seize the opportunity and quickly sell yourself before she exits the elevator to her floor.
Interviewers don’t have the time or patience to decipher your convoluted story nor will they accept that you’re great at face value just because you say so. You have to offer real tangible reasons why your skills are the right fit for the job, as well as compelling rationale for hiring you instead of the other candidates.
The elevator pitch is similar to a brief television or YouTube commercial. A luxury car brand or fast food burger chain needs to effectively communicate their message and sell you on their product in one minute or less.They need to capture your rapt attention, as you are simultaneously preoccupied with Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and fielding questions and complaints from your spouse and kids.
Day Eight: Find recruiters, career coaches and resume writers who can help with your job search and career advancement. To find these folks, ask people you trust in your field for recommendations. Speak with your colleagues and former coworkers and ask who they’ve used in their job searches and were they successful with that person.
You can search online directories, LinkedIn and job boards to find recruiters that are active in your sector. Dig a little deeper by going to their websites. Read their posts, watch any videos they have and look for positive testimonials. You want to gain a sense of confidence that they possess an expertise in your industry. With regards to recruiters, you want to find out if they have close ties with senior level decision making executives, human resource professionals and other leaders in your niche along with a demonstrated level of success.
Day Nine: Reinvent yourself or pivot to a new line of work. If you’re in a career that was hit hard by Covid-19, you may need to consider reinventing yourself or pivoting to a new line of work. Use this time to start preparing a “Plan B” just in case things go sideways. This may entail going back to school to learn skills for a new type of career, obtaining accreditations and certifications. Look into taking a part-time position in the gig-economy, turning a hobby into a small business or accepting a job in a different industry.
Pivoting is a little different. Find a way that your skills, experience and knowledge can crossover into another field. You may have to take a couple of steps backward financially, but you can start rebuilding and quickly grow your career again.
Day Ten: In the olden times, pre-Covid-19, people would attend in-person networking events. You’d fly out to some big city, stay at a posh hotel and then attend one breakout meeting after another. There would be a lunch with rubbery chicken served and a keynote speaker who fights to be heard over all the chitter chatter and clicking of silverware and dishes.
Since we’re practicing social distancing, these events have been supplanted by online meetups. If you’re on the job hunt, seeking some human interactions and camaraderie, interested in learning about new developments within your field, there are many Zoom-type events that you can participate in. Use the holiday downtime to sign-up to these events. It’s a great way to meet people, learn something new, gain job related advice and feel productive.
Day Eleven: Selectively grow your network. Start with LinkedIn. Look for people that you can build a mutually benefiting relationship with. If you are looking for a new job or want to increase your exposure, seek out relevant people and send them an invite to join your network.
Once you’re connected, like their comments, add your own thoughts and create content that brands you as a thought leader. It is a great way to get noticed. You could also join relevant Facebook groups that cater to your specific career. Twitter is a little more challenging, but it’s worth it to get active to gain attention. The same holds true with Instagram. The more you put yourself out there, the greater amount of exposure you’ll receive.
Day Twelve: You need some time to decompress from all of the stress. The holiday season could be your own personal time to pull back and make sure you’re emotionally, mentally and spiritually in a good place. By taking care of yourself during the holidays, you’ll be well-rested, positive and motivated to take advantage of the improved economy and job market.
Also, think of others. Reach out to people who may be alone during the holidays. Contribute to food banks and charities. The act of giving helps others and will make you feel better about yourself.