It's the start of 2013... how well is your job search going? The onset of the new year will likely have you asking yourself how you can maximize your efforts and eliminate some of the more frustrating roadblocks of today's difficult job market. Above all, you'll want to start seeing real results -- especially if you're an older job-seeker and have been out there looking for some time.
The good news is that now is the time to pull out all of the stops and get going! There is a seasonal aspect to employment; January and February generally represent the strongest hiring period of the year. In the same manner that individuals mark the New Year with our personal to-do lists, organizations put budgets into place, create new initiatives and launch projects for the upcoming year. More than likely, they'll need to bring on additional employees to carry out their plans.
So how can you maximize the hiring opportunities that abound at this special time of year? It's helpful to begin by spending several minutes assessing your successes and failures. Evaluate the methods you've been using and eliminate those that waste your time and resources. Then write up a list of action steps based on the behaviors that work best for you.
To get you started, here are three powerful resolutions that can make a major impact on your 2013 job search:
1. Turn off your computer! This statement may sound crazy to most job-seekers, but sitting for hours in front of your computer is the biggest time-waster of them all. Despite all of the job boards and company websites, fewer than 15 percent of positions are obtained through online postings. So if you're spending the majority of your time answering ads, you're guaranteeing yourself one result: maximum competition! If the job looks good to you, it looks good to thousands of other people, too.
Instead, limit your computer time and use it strategically. Treat the ads for your line of work as research tools. Identify key skills and industry buzzwords that are currently in demand and make certain to speak to these while networking as well as refer to them liberally throughout your resume.
Use social media to connect with people on a personal basis. You'll want to spend the majority of your time in face-to-face meetings and personal phone calls. Email and text messages are great for passing information along, but nothing beats the impact of a personal connection. A friendly face and a professional demeanor will build a far stronger rapport, and this personal relationship will serve to motivate others to want to help you. Tried and true is still the best method for success -- people find people jobs. In fact, at least 75 percent of all positions filled are found by way of personal referral.
2. Ignore the negative press. Recognize that the media loves to spin bad news. Even more, the statistics they cite are, by definition, generalities. These numbers have nothing to do with you as an individual job-seeker: the methods you use to conduct your job search, how many people are in your network and how you present yourself to others.
Your attitude about your viability as a candidate underscores everything you do. In order to be successful, you'll need to present yourself with confidence, energy and enthusiasm. So rather than feeling discouraged, take pride in the wealth of experience you bring, the challenges you've faced and overcome, your mature work ethic and the well-honed skills you've accumulated over a lifetime.
These are just a few of the true assets of age and experience. So remember to always present yourself from a position of strength. If you apologize or feel "less than" because of your age, employers will sense you lack confidence in what you can contribute to their organization and will eliminate you from their pool of candidates.
3. Present yourself as a knowledgeable insider. Be sure to research trends in your industry and your particular line of work. Be able to speak to current developments locally, nationally and internationally. In addition to an enthusiastic, can-do attitude, you'll need to converse with the knowledge and confidence your research will provide. Preparation is key. Therefore, spending some time educating yourself will pay off, both as you network and as you're presenting yourself in job interviews. Demonstrating that you're a knowledgeable insider also shows that you bring a powerful combination of maturity along with an obvious commitment to keeping current in your field.
With the right attitude, preparation and connections, you'll be positioning yourself for success. And, if you're currently pounding the pavement, you know there's no better way to start off the new year than with a brand new job!
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. Recently updated, it's packed with even more information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools 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!