Make New Goals for Your Career Search

by Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC

Your resume is the most important vehicle for sending a positive first impression of you and your skills to hiring managers. However I hope a strong resume isn’t the only strategy in your tool box for 2011. Many people discount the value of New Year’s Resolutions but recognize the power in writing down intentions. Make a commitment to a successful job search in the coming year by defining your direction. Use the list below or be inspired to come up with your own!
1) “I will target my job search efforts instead of using the old shotgun approach.”
It’s so easy to send your resume to multiple sites via the Internet, but results are not always optimal. Your resume may become one of hundreds in the hiring manager’s inbox. Target jobs of greatest interest and be diligent about your interactions with those companies as noted in the following intentions for the New Year.
2) “I will expand my list of contacts by 2 people or organizations each week.”
Add contacts face-to-face, via phone, or electronically. Help new contacts see you as a viable partner in the organization by highlighting how your strengths can further their mission.
3) “I will improve my resume by emphasizing accomplishments and recent experiences.”
Accomplishments can be communicated to new contacts as well as in revisions of your resume and cover letter.
4) “I will participate in regional job fairs.”
Job fairs are a great opportunity to reach your weekly contacts goal, make you more visible, and expand knowledge of the local job market.
5) “I will make cold calls to regional prospects.”
Calling prospective employers helps you in many ways. You become more than a name in the endless string of resumes. The relationships you develop may leverage an interview and eventually a position.
6) “I will develop action plans and present to major companies in my job search.”
The action plan is a great strategy and clearly sets you apart from other candidates. Taking time to research the corporation and create a plan that addresses company needs or goals communicates your initiative and unique talents.
7) “I will use business intelligence and corporate research to revise my cover letter.”
Do research on companies to identify values, projects, and initiatives. Incorporate information into the cover letter by telling prospective employers how your experience and talents solve their problems.
8) “I will become more active in my professional and community organizations.”
Being active in organizations not only enhances your networking, but may also help you develop additional skills. Serving as member of a Board clearly conveys your leadership skills.
9) “I will demonstrate my qualities as a solid candidate in every action with potential employers.”
Interactions at every level of the organization reflect on you in the application process. Each phone call, social network posting, and face-to-face contact will be reported up the chain of command. Be deliberate and considerate to be successful.
10) “I will present a consistent brand in my resume, cover letter, and professional contacts.”
You may have heard President Obama’s brother-in-law describe the importance of behavior on a basketball court in assessing an individual’s overall character. Although not under constant scrutiny when applying for positions, you must be aware that behavioral inconsistencies will be magnified or misinterpreted. Display your best character.
11) “I will develop an “elevator speech” to use with my expanding professional network.”
Encapsulate key aspects of your skills and professional brand into a 30­-second speech. Use it at every opportunity.
12) “I will use old-fashioned thank-you notes to follow up all types of contacts and keep my name fresh in people’s minds.”
You may be tempted to send an email note to follow up a professional meeting. The sheer number of emails most people receive is overwhelming. Sending a hand-written note is another way to distinguish oneself from the crowd.
13) “I will use social networking sites to my advantage, including adding professional resources, such as resume and career advice consultants.”
Smart use of social media can accelerate progress in your job search. You expand your network and are more likely to be seen by potential employers. Clean up any questionable postings and present yourself professionally to make the best use of social media resources.
14) “I will continue my professional development activities to improve my skills, expand my network, and maintain my enthusiasm.”
Participating in professional development activities becomes even more critical during employment gaps. You gain focus, new ideas, and strategic contacts.

Most importantly, don’t become discouraged. A job search can be daunting, but with a specific plan, you can re-gain a sense of control and direction. Well-defined intentions can provide a framework for a successful job search. Be confident as you move into the New Year. Armed with effective goals, you can make this your year to secure a new job!