It's that time of year again. You know, goal-setting and New Year's resolutions with all the best of intentions. If you are one of the many wanting to change jobs in 2007, here are a few basic tips:
1. Know what you want in a new job.
Make sure you're moving toward a better job and not just running away from one you don't like. What are your values and how do they align with a new company's culture? What will make this new job better than the old one? (Money may not be the most important reason to change jobs.) A coach can help you work through the confusion.
2. Create a professional resume.
Your resume acts as your introduction to a company. It makes your first impression for you. Find books with resume samples to guide you or hire a professional resume writer who is trained, experienced and certified in this field. Make sure your resume reflects your work achievements. Don't forget to send cover letters and interview thank you letters to show you understand business etiquette.
3. Evaluate your network of contacts.
The job search process is a lot like dating - prospects usually don't come knocking on your door! You have to get out and meet people. More people get new jobs through networking than any other activity - up to 80% according to several surveys. Look at the business relationships you already have and what you do to cultivate them. What professional, civic and social groups do you belong to? Where do the people hang out that can introduce you to the right opportunities.
4. Practice your interviewing skills.
Most hiring authorities use "behavioral or situational" interviewing methods. Prepare for interviews with storytelling techniques. Write down examples from your work experience of specific challenges or situation, the actions you took to resolve those challenges, and the positive results of outcomes of your actions. Be ready to discuss these stories in any interview to demonstrate the value you have to offer an employer.
5. Test for business reality before saying, "yes."
Find out the salary, benefits, overtime expectations, relocation/travel requirements - you don't want any surprises after you start a new job. Some executives even negotiate exit agreements before signing acceptance letters - kind of like pre-nuptial agreements!
6. Revisit old opportunities.
If the job you really want doesn't choose you, check in with the employer 6-8 weeks later to see how their new hire is working out. Sometimes - not always - you can head off your competition and get a foot in the door before a second job vacancy notice is issued.