You’ve heard this story before: an actor, who, after a long career of extensive ongoing training, sacrifice, and years committed to bit parts and small roles in obscure way-off-Broadway productions, becomes a household name when they land a plum role in a surprise blockbuster. Despite all the effort and struggle behind the actor put in behind the scenes, he’s thought of an overnight success. The truth is: success is no accident. It requires a little bit of luck, perhaps, but that’s only part of the recipe. The rest is hard work, commitment and a willingness to do what needs to be done make your dreams come true.
You have an opportunity to make your career dreams come true, but only if you’re willing to invest time, energy and thoughtful commitment to the enterprise. And there’s no better time of year to do that than right now.
Fall is upon us. Days are conspicuously shorter. Summer’s blistering temperatures give way to cooler, clearer days, brisk mornings and extra blankets on the bed. We’ve transitioned from lethargic, laissez-faire summer to the engine revving, quicker pace of autumn. And don’t look now but there are leaves on the ground.
More than any other, fall is the season of change. It’s also the best time of year to prepare to change jobs and one of two best times to actually pursue new employment.
Career counselors say that the best time to change jobs is when you’re ready to. But there’s more to it than that. Timing, as they say, is everything. This is especially true when preparing for your job search.
September and October are identified as the second best time of the year to make a career change (January and February are first.) The slowest hiring times are usually summer, end of the year and holidays, unless there’s a specific or urgent need to fill a position. It’s possible you could be just the person an organization is looking for to help them cross the finish line on a fourth quarter project. If they’re not away on vacation in July/August, most decision makers are catching up from those vacations. And the people you need to meet with are often otherwise focused around the holiday season, when bonuses are distributed (if they still are). Generally, budgets are determined before the end of a fiscal year, at the same time as organizations are completing fourth quarter objectives. New budgets in January often include resources for new or replacement hiring.
We’ve covered how to prepare to launch a job search in previous posts, but a review never hurts, especially when you understand that there’s no better time than now to put these suggestions into action.
1. prepare yourself digitally
It’s hard to think clearly or creatively in chaos. That’s why we always suggest the first step of any job search should be getting organized. Clean out your email, and create electronic files to organize job opportunities, resumes and cover letters. Better still, set up a new email address so job search-related emails don’t get swept up in personal email. Keep a separate file with links to helpful information available online for quick and easy access. These days, most hiring is initiated through social media and online sites dedicated to hiring and HR so a big part of preparation is updating and professionalizing your online presence. Not sure how to prepare your online life for hiring managers? Check out our guide about managing your personal brand on social media.
2. update your resume
Whether you’re looking for a job or not, you should update your resume frequently, adding accomplishments, seminars, training opportunities and certifications. You can (and should) customize your resume so it’s relevant to specific job applications but keep your ‘template’ current. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is professional and up-to-date. Over 40% of Canadians use LinkedIn to search for jobs and 97% of recruiters are active on LinkedIn. Use online sites to stay up-to-date with your industry and hiring trends, keep in touch with and build your network, and position yourself strategically to help you launch your job search.
The fall is a great time to expand your network and refresh your relationship with existing connections. Let them know you’re getting ready to launch a career search – they may offer helpful tips and useful contacts. Get in touch with those people who have agreed to provide references for you to update them on what’s happening with you; they’ll appreciate the contact especially when they’re called on to provide those references and can speak about you currently and knowledgeably.
4. make a list
Write down industries and organizations you’d want to work for. Remember, this all about a targeted approach to finding a new job. Do a little research to find out who does the hiring at the companies you’re interested in, what jobs they most post often, and, if possible, what hard and soft skills they’ve hired for in the past. As part of your research, you can try to connect with someone in the HR department and ask if they’d be willing to meet with you briefly to answer some questions about the organization. If you’re able to make contact, make sure you’re prepared with insightful questions. Remember, they’re taking time out of their day to meet with you.
5. hone your skills
School children aren’t the only ones sharpening their pencils in September. It’s a great time to update and learn new things for everyone. What better way to remain relevant and marketable than to keep up with trends, while honing your existing skills? Furthering your education, whether through seminars, online courses, or discussion groups is also a good way to widen your contact list. These will be people with interests similar to yours, who you can network with and go to for advice, recommendations and tips on job openings.
If you’re not ready to make a career move now, consider this: fall is an ideal time to prepare yourself to launch the new year with a job search. Hiring managers have recovered from seasonal slow-downs and vacations (theirs and everyone else’s) and are ready to step up the pace to the end of the year and plan beyond it. Preparing yourself means as soon as January is ushered in, you’re ready to rock and roll with your job search. That way, you can focus on enjoying the holiday season knowing you’ll have even more to celebrate in 2017.