10 Job Search Tips for 2010

Winter, Wyman Co.

The New Year -- sure, it's a time to rejoice, be merry and have some fun, but to some folks it is a time to reflect on their lives, and yes (a big sigh here) that means making the ever popular New Year's resolutions. The most common resolutions are losing weight, paying off debt, saving money and getting a better job. Try looking beyond the recession and the "doom and gloom" of 2009, and make 2010 a bright new year by kicking your job search into high gear.

"No matter the market conditions, there are always companies looking to hire talented professionals, and those people who are prepared will be best positioned to take advantage of new career opportunities as they are uncovered," says David Sanford, executive vice president of business development at Winter, Wyman. Sanford says that people should always be looking for a new job (hey, you never know what's out there unless you're looking) and that the New Year is a great time to go out and make it happen.

If you want to know how to get yourself noticed and find your dream job during the New Year, follow these 10 tips for 2010.

1. Be ready to move.

As with all of life's opportunities, you have to be ready to strike when the iron is hot -- and sometimes even when it's heating up. No matter if your plan includes pounding the pavement for a new job or sitting back and waiting for one to come your way, make sure you have all the groundwork in place for a successful job search. Update your résumé, prepare a compelling story to tell about why you would consider a new opportunity and know whom you would use for references. Start becoming mentally and emotionally ready for a change so you are better prepared for when it happens.

2. Don't ignore the elephant in the room.

In soft economies, many people think it's safer to stay with their current employer than to risk taking a position with a new company -- and often it is. But don't ignore the elephant in the room and hope that everything will be OK. Even in the best of times, companies routinely are merged, acquired, imploded and overtaken, sometimes leaving hundreds and thousands of people looking for new jobs. Be prudent and always be aware of your business's conditions; keep your nose in the wind and your eyes and ears open for when it is the best time to move on to a new job.

3. Knowthyself.

As people age and lives and goals change, so do their career objectives. Spend the time necessary to know what really makes you happy. Is it being an authority at work? Having a schedule flexible enough to see your kids play soccer on a midweek afternoon? Knowing the drug you are researching will someday eradicate a life-threatening disease? Have a heart-to-heart with yourself about what you want from your career and what steps would be necessary to achieve this goal. Have realistic expectations, but know that most career dreams are within our reach.

4. Step out of your comfort zone.

As human beings, we don't like to admit that we don't have all the answers, and it's uncomfortable for most people to ask for help, especially from those outside their inner circle. Asking for assistance and advice is the heart of networking and the single most important thing a person looking for a new job should do.

Your next opportunity could come via a tip or chance encounter with a former boss, colleague, neighbor, recruiter, barber, golf buddy -- but you will never hear about it if they don't know you are looking (even passively). You need to be courageous enough to talk to people you meet about what you ultimately want instead of regretting that you didn't mention it sooner.

5. Devote time to job searching.

Take a hint from the world's greatest athletes. Succeeding at anything takes practice and hard work. If you are trying to further your career, you need to devote the energy needed to make that change, and that takes time. Find a way to carve out the hours necessary, whether it's giving up an hour of gym time on Tuesday nights to attend networking meetings, or getting up early on Sunday mornings to search for leads and contacts online, establish some goals and set aside the time it will take to accomplish them.

6. Focus your résumé.

Most résumés are vanilla -- overview, titles, tasks, accomplishments and education. But companies want to see the sizzle and the steak. They want to see progression in experience, skills and responsibility and how you have contributed directly to your employer's, or former employer's, success. Make sure your document includes enough substance to explain the strategies and tactics you were responsible for, but also the intangibles where you made a difference. It doesn't have to be overly long or detailed, but back up any success claims with real facts and examples.

7. Join in and get connected.

There isn't a profession or industry on Earth that doesn't have a trade association, user group, online discussion board or fan club. Find one relevant to you and join it. Whether you are employed or not, opportunities flow from being around like-minded people, and professional associations and communities are where you need to be. They are a great way for uncovering hidden jobs, to further your knowledge and to make new relationships. Investigate which are appropriate for you and join in.

8. Sell yourself.

Unless you are a pompous, arrogant bore, you are probably not used to -- and are uncomfortable with -- talking immodestly about yourself, your attributes and shining moments. Get over it. Advancing in your career or finding a new job requires you to balance humility with bravado. Your résumé or a relationship may open a door, but you have to be prepared to march through it with a lot of confidence and a bit of swagger.

Find a way to get over any discomfort when talking about yourself and how wonderful you are. The best job candidate is one who truly believes he has something unique to offer and can articulate his message with words, body language and confidence. A hiring manager wants to fall in love with you; give her a reason to.

9. Narrow your thinking.

Don't try to be all things to all people, especially when looking for a job. You are not going to be good at everything you do, so don't fool yourself into thinking you are. Figure out what you want to do and where you want to do it, and narrow your search to opportunities that fit into your realm. Don't have interviews or networking meetings where you hope the other person can help you figure out what you want to do. The responsibility is yours; be targeted and specific about the jobs you want, skills you have and the companies for which you want to work.

10. Get started.

Self-assessment is important but can be paralyzing. Take the time necessary to be introspective and then craft your plan, but don't let those activities stall you from taking action. Talk is cheap -- get out there and take the steps to change or improve your career. Being proactive in your career will open up opportunities you never dreamed of and will start 2010 off right.

Winter, Wyman, a leading staffing firm for more than 35 years, is one the largest and one of the most recognized staffing organizations in the Northeast. Winter, Wyman specialize in permanent, contract and contract-to-permanent staffing in accounting and finance, human resources, information technology, investments and financial services, and software technology. Headquartered in Waltham, Mass., Winter, Wyman services the New England and metropolitan New York markets with additional technology contracting capabilities nationwide. For more information on Winter, Wyman, visit www.winterwyman.com.

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