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Getting your career in gear for the New Year: How to land the job you want

by Sarah Dawson | December 15, 2016

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The beginning of the calendar year marks one of the busiest times for hiring and interviewing activities in most industries. While industries will differ from each other slightly, hiring activities pick up rapidly and interviewing starts to happen with higher frequency. So to get you started off on the right foot, Alumni Career Management is sharing the answers to the most FAQ of 2016.

What is the biggest mistake job seekers consistently make?

Taking a passive approach to the job search and getting discouraged when there are no positive results is where the majority of job seekers I see get stuck. Many people rely on online job boards both to find opportunities and to get a picture of the job market- two very false indicators. Instead, use your network. Get in front of people, find out what is going on at their company, in their department and tell them about yourself. It might surprise you to know, that that upwards of 80% of jobs are never posted. Another key mistake job seekers make is using recruiters or head hunters as their sole means to find a job. Recruiters in your field can help you broaden your network when you are on their roster but you should not rely on them to find you a job. They do not work for you, as you are not their client.

I seem to get through the first two interviews, but have not landed the job. How do I get past this plateau?

Perhaps there is something you are saying, or not saying that is allowing your competition to get ahead of you. Asking for feedback from your interviewer is a great way to find out what you can work on for your next interview. After each interview, try to clinch your spot at the top of the list by emailing a strategic thank you note. Think of this as one final opportunity to sell yourself. Thank them for the interview and mention any key points that came up. Finally, mention anything that you may have forgotten to say...and don't forget to ask for the job!

I have been offered a contract position at a company I really want to work for, but a contract doesn't offer the job security I am looking for.  Should I still take the job?

It all depends on how much weighs in the balance for you. Questions you can ask yourself: Is there a chance that the contract might turn permanent or be extended? Will the experience you acquire during the contract position you better in the job market after the contact ends? Will the opportunity to build your skill, reputation and network at this company provide you with a greater benefit than if you held out for something more permanent?

How do I make a career change when I don't even know what I want to do?

It's hard to make a career change if you don't know what you want. Before you illicit help from your network and begin to have conversations with people you need to be able to know what you are looking for. Having a job title in mind isn't necessary but a direction is. Knowing who you are and what you want is a critical factor in any job search. To get started, try taking a hard look at what motivates you in your work. What are you good at and enjoy doing? Outline the values that are important to you and outline your accomplishments.  Break your accomplishments down into skills you've used and bundle them together to help generate ideas for a new career direction.

I think my older age is a barrier to getting hired, I have an excellent work background, how can I make sure I am not overlooked?

Older employees bring years of accomplishments to the table. In your resume and cover letter, highlight those accomplishments. Relate directly to what each employer is looking for, use their language, and bring your experience to the forefront so it is top of mind. Don't forget to focus on the results and impact of your work versus your duties and responsibilities. If it's been awhile since you wrote a resume or think your resume writing skills could use some brushing up, check out our advanced resume writing workshop online. And finally, don’t forget the power of a referral, by tapping into your network and strategically growing your network, you will position yourself to have access to more opportunities.

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