Preparing For Your 2007 Job Search

Out With the Old, In With the New

Happy New Year! Whether your 2006 was a bang or a bust, there’s always room for career advancement in 2007. The beginning of a new year is an excellent time to set your sights on beginning a new job or career.

To prepare for personal and professional success in the New Year, it’s wise to take some time for reflection and housecleaning. Before you’re ready to move on to something new, you’ll want to tie up loose ends, put any negative thoughts behind you, and focus on your goals in both your profession and your life. You’ll be amazed at how good you’ll feel when you can truly start your job search with a clean slate. Here are some suggestions — both personal and professional – which can help you get you off to a great start. Follow these and you’ll be ready for greatness in 2007.

In Your Professional Life

Think about every aspect of your career — past, present and future. If you’re currently unemployed, focus on what, for you, defines a “good” transition. If you’re employed, but considering your options for 2007, think about why you’re dissatisfied. Do the negative aspects of your current job have a tendency to worsen? Would you be happy or unhappy to find yourself in the same place you are now in 2008?

Your Career Past. Have you made direct contact with potential references from past jobs? How do you plan to stay in touch with them? What will they say to support your move to a new position? If you left your last job under difficult circumstances, what can you do to get rid of any bad feelings of anger, fear, or resentment? Sometimes career coaching can be helpful with this.

Your Career Present. Have you spoken confidentially with people at a current job who’ve agreed to give you references? How will you make an easy transition from this position to another? Are you likely to get a counter-offer from your current job? Do you have unfinished business at this job? Think about what you would need to do when you give notice and have two weeks to close everything out. Then… do what you can now!

In terms of the documents you’ll need, have you updated your resume ? Is everything on it verifiable? Do you have a portfolio (formal or informal) about your recent duties and accomplishments? When you leave your job you don’t want to take information that is restricted by confidentiality agreements. But it is your responsibility to keep your own record of your career highlights. Is this one of those things you’ve “always meant to do?” If so, make a New Year’s resolution to actually do it now.

Your Career Future. You should have a written job search plan in place, with tangible goals for what you intend to do and when you expect to get your new position. If you want a new job by April 1st, what is your 90-day plan? Exactly what will your target job look like? Have you made a list of all the people you can contact, through professional associations, internet resources, and local job networking groups? Who is in your support group? How many hours a week do you realistically plan to devote to this? Be specific.

In Your Personal Life…

January is a great time for “housekeeping” for all aspects of your personal life. If your personal life is not in order, it may impact your ability to focus on your job search. Whether you’re unemployed or employed, take any steps you can to clear the decks so you’re ready to get right to work when you land your next job.

Your Home Office. Is it in good shape? When was the last time you actually cleaned your office thoroughly, in every nook and cranny? Is the garbage can overflowing or are there crumbs on your desk? Are your plants healthy? Have you cleared out old paperwork, particularly anything related to your past job(s)? Are your computer files such as e-mail and contact database records cleaned up? This is a good time to get rid of anything that will be irrelevant to your 2007. If you are unhappy with your prior employer, give away all the briefcases, clothing, and other items with the company logo. For things you do want to keep, such as performance reviews and examples of your work, put them in storage. You don’t need to see them every day.

Your 2006 Taxes. Here’s an unusual strategy. What if you assume that you will be too busy with your new job in March and April to focus on your taxes at that time? Get everything in order now, particularly if you have a refund coming. This is a really good way to emotionally and financially close things down for 2006.

Your Personal Care. There are things we do not often discuss as professionals. But, when was the last time you went through your closet? Are your clothes ready if you got a new job tomorrow? What about grooming, such as hair and nails? Are there medical appointments you can take care of now, such as getting your teeth cleaned? Does your pet need to go to the veterinarian? Assume you won’t have the time to take off for those types of medical appointments when you start your new job. Does your house need clutter cleared or repairs made? It is indirect, but the more you can clear up your personal life, the more you can focus on your job search.

Skeptical? These suggestions work. I have had people tell me they were glad to throw out work clothes they didn’t want anymore. They felt more prepared for a new job. Others have been really surprised at how good it felt to get their taxes done in January, particularly if the previous year was tough financially.

Some people prefer to really do an “all hands on deck” effort, particularly for dealing with a backlog of things to be handled in their personal lives. Others prefer to do a little every week. It’s up to you!

Get rid of anything you do not need from 2006 in both your personal and professional life. Try it ! Preparation in January will help you get your new job in 2007.