NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Looking to land a new gig this year? You're not alone. Here's a look at the five things to need to do now to make your dream job happen in 2015.
1. Master social media.
It's no secret that recruiters look at job-seekers' social media trails to gauge whether they would be a fit for a company. If you want to "up" your personal ranking, join industry news and group discussions and participate in discussions on LinkedIn, says Shawnice Meador, director of career and leadership services for working professionals at MBA@UNC.
"This will help elevate you to the top of industry searches and catch the recruiter's eye," she says.
Before joining in the conversation, double-check all your profiles for unprofessional photos or language, even if you think there's nothing there you wouldn't be proud of.
"Clean up all social media pages, delete inactive accounts and remove inappropriate content," says Tom Gimbel, founder and CEO of LaSalle Network, a Chicago staffing and recruiting firm. "Hiring managers sometimes reference a candidate's Facebook or Twitter page to validate what is on their resume or what was said during an interview, so keep it professional and keep it clean. It's OK to post personal information, but not too personal."
Job-seekers should also maximize social media as a way to learn about prospective companies, says Christy Palfy, recruiting manager at Progressive Insurance.
"There's so much out there in the digital space. Companies have their own feed where they share what's going on," Palfy says. "It's a great way for people to see what companies think is relevant. The further along you get in the interview stage, the deeper the dive you need to take into what's going on with the company."
2. Think outside the box.
No matter how long you've been in a particular job or industry, don't feel like you're trapped or "typecast," Palfy says. Also, don't dismiss a company without checking out all of its job listings first.
"When you think of Progressive, you might think of sales or insurance, but we have tons of opportunities, everything from analysts and IT to nurse practitioners," she says. "Don't just think, 'Well, I used to work at this kind of company in this industry, and now I need to work at the same kind of company in the same industry.'"
If you're ready to make a change, think about the ways your skills are transferrable and what your skill set could bring to a new role.
"There are so many different opportunities for people to jump. It's critical for you to think through your strategy and articulate it to people you are interviewing with. You've got to show that passion and interest," she says.
3. Take some time for yourself before the work day starts.
"A huge trend that I see is people trying to take time either before their workday starts, during their commute or even lunch hour to completely decompress and tap into some higher power — just something that takes them out of the workday madness," says Rachel Weingarten, author of Ancient Prayer: Channeling Your Faith 365 Days of the Year.
This may mean a brief morning meditation for some people, a few yoga poses in the conference room for others, Weingarten says. The point is that you're including positive, encouraging thoughts into your daily repertoire. Job hunting is tough — don't underestimate the toll rejection or endless waiting may take on your confidence.
"I advise people to take five minutes a day before work, at lunch or during your coffee break to allow yourself to connect into nature, art, your spiritual side — whatever takes you furthest away from your office mindset," she says. "You've got to cleanse your professional palate every now and again and start fresh."
4. Do your research.
To get through the clutter, you've got to do your research, Palfy says.
"At Progressive, last year we had well over 300,000 people apply for jobs. If you can tie your career goals into the company's goals, your resume will stand out, she says.
In your cover letter, make specific references to the company so the hiring manager knows you've thought about how your skills are a fit. This is especially important if you're thinking of changing industries.
"Candidates should highlight how their skill set matches the position requirements and explain how they will help the company grow in the first 30, 60 or 90 days on the job," Gimbel says.
Then, when you get that face-to-face interaction or phone call, talk about how your skills and experience relate to the job, Palfy says.
"It's a great chance to show what you've read and demonstrate that you're the right person for the job, the person who understands the job."
5. Figure out what makes you happy.
"Our research indicates that while we are not substantially motivated by being fairly compensated, we are materially demotivated if we perceive we're not being paid fairly," says Ed Donner, co-founder and chief executive of technology career network untapt. "So first and foremost, work for a company that pays what you think is fair."
Next, identify the factors that contribute to your overall well being — is it exciting projects or increased responsibility? Work life balance or location? Donner asks.
"Address these points in the beginning and know which factors motivate or demotivate you, and seek jobs and hiring managers that deliver on these items," he says. "Also, identify companies that make you happy. Even if it means making a checklist."
— By Kathryn Tuggle for MainStreet