For many students and professionals, January 1 signals the arrival of new opportunities, especially for those hoping to change jobs, earn a promotion, or kick off their careers as graduation looms. The University of Arizona Global Campus Career Services team can help.
The months of January and February are typically among the best times to start looking for new work because many companies have their new budgets in place and have an idea of what positions they’d like to fill in the coming months. This is the time of year when hiring managers are settling back in after the holidays and are getting ready to accept new applications, according to TopResume.com, so you should take the time to prepare for your job search now.
How to Prepare for Your Job Search
As a UAGC student or alumnus, you have access to a comprehensive suite of career-readiness resources and job search tools, as well as career advisors who can meet with you one-on-one to help plan your next career move.
However, there are some very immediate and tangible things you can do now to jumpstart your job search in the new year. Here are six things you should do right away, according to Career Services.
1. Develop your professional brand identity
Your first step will involve bringing your resume up to date and making your brand available online for recruiters to find on sites such as LinkedIn, Indeed, and others.
To do this, you should start with developing your professional brand identity, which often comes in the form of a short bio or summary of skills. In order to grab the attention of the reader, you should focus on a personal brand identity that describes your professional passion.
“What you should be projecting is what you want, not just what you’ve done,” explains Global Campus Career Services Manager Rebecca Davis. “You want to make it clear what kind of transferable skills you have and what gets you excited.”
Your personal brand identity should come across like an elevator pitch, says Davis, and should focus on two very important points:
- What problem you can solve for your future employer
- Why you’re qualified to solve the problem and help the organization
“You can’t make assumptions that people know how qualified you are,” she adds. “You have to put it out there.”
2. Apply your brand identity to social media
Though they’re not considered recruitment sites, you should pay special attention to your other social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others. As recently as 2017, it was estimated that 70 percent of employers were searching social media profiles to get a better picture of job candidates.
Davis suggests applying the same approach to personal branding that you use on LinkedIn to the “bio” section of your Twitter, Facebook, and other pages. This doesn’t have to be done word-for-word, but you can use the power of social media to showcase your professional interests and talents in the posts and photos you share.
“It’s important to be aware of the message that you’re sending out on social media,” she says. “Make sure your profiles are as complete as possible and always ask yourself, ‘If I were a potential employer, would I be okay with this content?’”
If you think the answer is “no” or if you simply believe your personal life shouldn’t factor into your professional aspirations, you can make these accounts private. And don’t worry that a private account will raise a red flag, she adds.
“I think these days everyone is much more aware of their privacy online,” she explains. “The message we receive from recruiters is that it’s not a concern, people are just taking steps to preserve their privacy.”
3. Reach out for recommendations
One section of your online profile that should be emphasized is recommendations. Your LinkedIn page has an entire section dedicated to recommendations from current and previous colleagues, and any recruiter looking to know more about you will be scanning those comments to learn about your strengths and weaknesses.
It can be uncomfortable asking a co-worker or manager to write you a recommendation, so Davis suggests writing one for them first, so they can return the favor.
“Networking is putting yourself out there and letting people know that you’re looking around and you’d like their endorsement,” she says. “I let students and alumni know that you are always networking, even if you’re not connecting with a potential employer, there’s always a chance the person you’re talking to knows someone who knows someone.”
4. Turn negatives into positives
Major shifts in the global economy have changed the way recruiters look at job candidates, so don’t be overly concerned if there’s an employment gap on your resume.
Instead, Davis recommends turning a negative into a positive and show a future employer what you’ve accomplished during your job search.
“Utilize the time that you have when you’re not working to improve your skills, and then make that clear to a potential employer,” Davis says. “Did you take a new course? Did you earn a certification? Volunteer? Join a professional organization? All of these things show the depth of your skillset.”
5. Highlight your side hustle
In good and bad economies, you might find yourself in need of some additional cash to pay the bills, but it may not always be acceptable to include these side hustles on your resume.
If it aligns with your career path or if it’s something related to your field, Davis recommends adding it to your resume or online profile.
“It’s not shocking to have a side job, but you’ll want to really show employers how you were able to use your transferable skills and your soft skills on the job,” she explains.
6. Make your education work for you
Students of every age use their college degrees as the foundation of their future careers, so where your resume lacks professional experience, you can make your education work for you.
“You can list the relevant courses that you’re taking in school,” Davis says. “But I would really encourage you to list projects that showcase the depth of your education in your chosen field.”
As a student, you have the opportunity to get a head start on your career by joining professional networks or student organizations, she adds. Even if you don’t have a lot of work experience in your field, an active presence can show employers that you’re staying on top of what’s happening.
By taking these simple steps, you can position yourself for your next career move. To access the resources available to you as a Global Campus student, log into your Student Portal and click on “Handshake,” or students/alumni can reach out to the Career Services team at [email protected]u.