If you’re thinking about setting a New Year’s resolution to find a new job or get a promotion, don’t wait until Jan. 1 to get started. Now is the time to lay the groundwork so you’re ready to move into a new position in 2018.
The next few weeks are a perfect time for you to build a powerhouse résumé that gets you the job you’re aiming for. “January, February and March is the hiring season, so now is the time to apply,” job search expert Rick Gillis says.
Here are three tips to make your career resolution come true.
First, figure out what it is about your work that makes you stand out. This can be a challenge, but it’s a common one, Gillis says: “People from entry level all the way to CEO can’t quantify the value they bring to an organization.” Start by making a list of your biggest accomplishments, but understand that there’s a difference between your accomplishments and your job.
“It’s not an accomplishment to say ‘I installed $3 million of software’ — that’s your job,” Gillis says. But if the software increased efficiency in the department and saved an amount you can quantify, that’s the accomplishment. “Without a net result, you haven’t accomplished a thing. Take a personal inventory of your very best accomplishments, then move forward to the résumé.”
Gillis recommends retooling your résumé so a list of four or so of your greatest accomplishments are at the top. Doing so makes it easy for hiring managers to understand the value you bring to an organization. “That’s what people want to talk about when they get to the interview,” he says. “The reason people hire is that they have a problem and are looking for a solution.” By putting your accomplishments at the top of your résumé, you’re showing how you can be a part of the solution.
If you get an interview, or are pitching the possibility of a promotion to your manager, bring the full list of accomplishments to talk about, Gillis says. He says his clients note that hiring managers are often interested in going over the list.
Your updated résumé and list of accomplishments can help, but you need to be able to tell the story behind those bullet points. “Prepare to be grilled,” Gillis says: It’s not enough to say “I was responsible for X, which resulted in Y. You have to tell the who, what, when, where, why.”
One approach is the STAR technique. Describe the situation you were facing by describing the context for a task you needed to accomplish. Then talk about the action you took and the result it got. Practice describing the story behind your top accomplishments so you can talk freely and comfortably about them.
Don’t forget basic tech tips for your job search, such as ensuring that your résumé, application and LinkedIn profile all use the same keywords for jobs you’re looking for, Gillis says. Be aware of variations such as “marketing manager” versus “I managed a marketing team,” for example, and update any cover letters or other job-search information with the relevant terms.
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