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New Year, New Job?

Updated: Jan 5, 2021

If you made a resolution to find a new job in 2021, you are not alone. According to a poll by Right Management, only 5% of employees plan to stay in their current jobs through the end of the year.

Of course, changing jobs is easier said (particularly with a belly full of rum and eggnog!) than done. The reality is that only 23% of people achieve their New Year's Resolutions. Life gets in the way. One week into 2021, you are probably up to your eyeballs in work from your current job and feel that you are too busy with kids' activities, commuting, and paying down the holiday bills to think about a job change.

If you are serious about changing jobs in 2021, there are some practical steps to follow that will significantly increase your chances of finding a new place to hang your proverbial hat this year.

1. Polish your resume. While you were putting away the holiday lights in the basement, perhaps you dug through your files to locate an old copy of your resume. The good news is, you found it; the bad news it, it lists "WordStar" and "Lotus Notes" as your key skills. Now is the time to do a new resume. The universe works in funny ways and once you put the "I want a new job" vibe out there, you will get requests for your CV. Take the time before you kick off your job search to think about what kind of job you want and articulate why you'd be the ideal candidate for the role.

2. Send your updated resume to your favourite recruiters. A perfect resume is a beautiful thing but it's not going to do you any good if nobody sees it. Send a copy to any recruiters you know or do some digging to see who the recruiting experts are in your field. Choose at least three recruiters and let them know you are open to new opportunities.

3. Put together a list of the top 10 companies you have always wanted to work for and do a little research on them. If you have any industry association meetings or trade shows planned, use them as opportunities to speak with other people in your field. Find out who's hiring, who's firing, and a little about the corporate culture of your target companies. Perhaps your industry is going through hard times and you are lucky to be getting a year's supply of jelly. Better to know that upfront and consider making a more radical change.

4. Get your references in order. There is nothing worse than being offered the job of your dreams only to realize that there is nobody who can vouch for your skills other than your current boss. Scan your LinkedIn connections and see who might be willing to give you a glowing review. Take your former boss out for lunch to reestablish a connection before you ask for a favour.

5. Commit to two networking meetings a month. People who are successful at achieving their New Year's Resolutions put clear action steps into place. It's easy to get to December 2021 and realize you've done nothing to push your dreams forward. Meet with your old colleagues. Ask someone respected in your field if they'd consider mentoring you. Taking specific steps towards your goal will help keep you motivated.

6. Spruce up your look. Have you ever watched the TV show What Not to Wear? There is something transformational in improving your appearance: everything from your self-confidence to people's first impression of you tends to improve. Take advantage of the January sales to buy a new interview suit or get a new haircut. Embracing small physical changes can help you prepare for larger emotional changes such as switching jobs.

7. Prepare for any major changes. Perhaps you are an investment banker who wants to become a chef. If you plan to make a drastic career change, it pays to do some upfront research. Talk to people in the industry to make sure you know what you are signing up for. Meet your potential future colleagues. Sign up for a class or get the accreditation required. You try on a pair of shoes before buying them to make sure they are comfortable: take the same approach with your career.

8. Start talking about your goals. Job searching while still employed is an activity that requires some discretion. Obviously you don't want to change your Facebook status to "Peeved off with the boss and looking" unless you know you can wrangle a package and start elsewhere right away! But it's OK to let trusted people in your circle know that you'd be open to new opportunities. Statistics show that at any given time, most people are open to new employment opportunities so while you don't want to advertise it on a t-shirt, it's not a state secret.

9. If you identify a company you might like to work for, ask for an informational meeting. It's good to kick the tires of a company you are contemplating joining. Arrange a meeting with a line manager in the area where you want to work (you can cold call or, even better, get someone in your network to help arrange it.) Find out what the company is really like and increase your chances of getting hired when a position opens. We've observed that successful informational interviews lead to an eventual job offer 80% of the time, as you've demonstrated your initiative and have some insight into the organization when you have your initial screening meetings with Human Resources.

10. Have fun. Hey, you might be on the brink of changing your life for the better: it's exciting! It can also be stressful so surround yourself with friends and family who support your goals and can act as cheerleaders. Celebrate little victories such as getting your resume done or booking a key meeting. People who celebrate their small achievements along the way are much more likely to reach their major goals.

Making a resolution to improve your career can lead to a major life improvement. You can surround yourself with more like-minded people, improve your financial situation, and increase your daily satisfaction. And unlike those who resolved to lose 10 pounds, you can still have cheesecake (so much tastier than jelly…)

Happy hunting!

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