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The New Year is fast approaching, and with it comes a whole heap of New Year's resolutions, wishes and goals for the coming year.
Whether you are in the market for a new job, "just looking," or currently unemployed, here are four fast things you can do right now to increase your chances of landing a better position in 2016.
1. Update Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is currently the 'social media' of the job-hunting world, a fast-moving networking hub where you can post your resume, browse jobs, and join professional networking boards and forums. If you don't currently have a LinkedIn profile, now might be a great time to make one. It's important to have an up-to-date, professional profileto take charge of your career, so take the time to update and optimize your profile (including your picture), and add in your current job and any new skills you've learned lately.
Most people let their LinkedIn page slide as soon as they achieve their purpose and get a new job, but as with all social media, your LinkedIn profile page should be a work-in-progress rather than a bare-bones backup for your resume. So log in often, complete your profile, read the latest news from your contacts and 'Follow' any companies in your industry you are interested in working for in future.
You can also add credibility to your own personal brand by joining a wide variety of groups on your target industry, so you can stay current with the latest news. You never know when it might come in handy.
2. Weed-Whack Your Social Media
Most people (if they're lucky!) get some time off work over Christmas and the New Year, so block out a couple of hours one evening to sit down and review your year's social media.
Scroll back to the start of the year and try to look at each post objectively, as though you were a hiring manager at your dream company. A jokey or angsty post written to a friend after a few beers might have seemed funny at the time, but you may be horrified to read it sober, now that the moment has passed.
When in doubt, fall back on the 'mother' rule; if you wouldn't want your mother to view a post or a picture, delete it. Your future job-hunting self will thank you.
3. Read Up on Your Dream Companies
The days when you walked into a new company 'blind' on your first day of the job are (thankfully) now over. These days, there is a ton of information out there on the internet on almost every company you might want to join. Thanks to Yelp-style company reviews sites, you can read up on what the salary and benefits package is like, learn actual questions that have been asked in that company's interviews, and even see pictures of your future new office - all posted anonymously by current or ex-employees.
If you're considering moving to a new company, be sure to read their company reviews first, if available. Use a simple Google search with "Company Name" + "reviews." The trick with these reviews is to read as wide a selection of reviews as possible, and to keep your wits about you. If one review is negative but the rest are all positive, it's possible the first review may have been written by a recently fired person with an ax to grind.
If you find reading company reviews helpful to your job search, you might like to 'pay it forward' and help out your fellow job-seekers by reviewing your own company. When writing your own company review, think to yourself, "What do I wish I'd known then that I know now?" That information may be priceless in helping a potential employee decide whether or not they want to work at your company.
4. Write LinkedIn Recommendations for People Who've Helped you
Remember the lovely HR lady at your last firm who helped you out with a great job suggestion after your last layoff? Or what about the fantastic receptionist you used to have at your corporate headquarters who remembered everyone's name, even if she'd only met them once? You'd probably make their day if you thanked them by giving them a personal recommendation on LinkedIn.
Too often, people make the mistake of only writing Recommendations for people who they expect one back from in return, such as their last manager, immediate co-workers or boss. But if you forget your support staff or all the 'little' people who helped you on your way, your LinkedIn profile might soon start to look a little one-sided.
The best connections aren't always the obvious ones - the CEOs, the General Managers, Senior Editors. I once retrieved an absolutely out-of-the-blue rec from a man who remembered me from my very first job, as a lowly Intern. I glanced at his profile to find his contact address to thank him, and it just so happened that his job title fit an urgent hire that a Recruiter friend of mine was scouring the internet for. I connected the two, and a month later, my 'knight in shining armor' had a shiny new job - just because he took two minutes out of his day to write a kind note to an old friend.
Moral of the story: help the people who help you. You never know where it may take you.