As a headhunter, on a daily and hourly basis, I intimately witness and influence what both candidates and companies are doing in preparation for a new year.
From a career standpoint, here are four things you can do to jump-start your career in 2020:
1. Update your arsenal.
In today’s modern job ecosystem, LinkedIn and your resume are still staples within your career and personal branding must-haves. Having succinct titles, a clear and bright profile picture featuring a big smile, and concise wording using all the keywords in your field are crucial to attracting recruiters to reach out to you. Whether you’re actively looking or not, you also should have a resume ready to go in case you actually are interested in exciting roles in the future.
2. Know all the who’s who in your field.
Most candidates have no idea how to use or engage with headhunters, nor do they know many to begin with (which is half the problem). When you’re not actively looking is the perfect time to test who is a good recruiter.
Hint: The best recruiters have excellent customer service skills and will not shirk their duties. They will engage with you and interact if you chase them hard enough to earn your opportunity to speak with them. Your job should be to interview your headhunters to make sure you know who to turn to in order to gather market data and test the market when you become more open to new roles.
3. Start evaluating and mapping out internal opportunities at your current firm to get ahead.
Many candidates have no idea how much they can shape their future internally just by talking about it. Perhaps you’ve brought up some issues with your firm and were ignored. Maybe due to that experience, you’re now more hesitant to alert your management of any feedback or ideas you have. This is the wrong approach. In order to get what you want, you need to craft a repetitive campaign, sowing the seeds of your discontent and letting it be known and repeated on a regular basis. Start with post-holiday season one-on-ones to alert management of your need for change and ideas to progress.
This process is called “managing up,” a.k.a. training your superiors how to work for you. Especially if you’re a strong performer, you need to double down on making sure your management doesn’t take you for granted and is paying you fairly for your exceptional performance. Don’t be afraid of coming off as demanding or being hurt by this process; it’s a necessary step to progress upward. There might be pushback, but due to the market conditions and competitive forces, I believe your company will feel encouraged to work with you and ensure you’re happy. The system is on your side.
4. Make time to actively network regularly.
Using platforms like Eventbrite and Meetup can easily allow you access to a consistent flow of free and paid events related to your industry and interests. Make sure you create a schedule to make time to exercise your public speaking and networking skills. Not only does this practice help you face your fears of meeting and winning over new people and contacts, but also your excursions will help make you a stronger communicator internally.
You’ll feel more confident and brave the more networking events you attend. Unlike recruiters who talk and meet strangers for a living, most people in their fields are relatively closed off and closed out of networks. Therefore, those who spend time curating their extroversion and charm reap significant benefits from the people skills gained from these relatively low-risk opportunities to meet and greet strangers. You can practice your self-introduction and interview skills through these networking events. Who knows? You might even meet some game-changers in your industry.
As easy as it is to kick back and relax, the end of the year is the best time to take advantage of the slower work pace (hopefully) that the holidays usually bring on. Don’t forget: When you snooze, you lose, and the early bird gets the worm. When others are coasting, you can get ahead of the crowd and get a head-start on job searching, networking and interviewing to set yourself up to have a number of new opportunities before bonus time when candidates again start competing against you. Create the momentum you want for a successful 2020.