The end of the calendar year usually means a little well-earned relaxation. Students wrap up
the fall semester – putting exams, papers, and projects behind them – and many young
professionals will have some time to recuperate as well. While it’s great to enjoy some time
relaxing with family and friends, and to catch up on much needed sleep, it’s important to use
this precious time to prepare to launch your career anew in 2020. Whether you are trying to
decide what career direction fits your interests, searching for an internship or first full-time
job, or seeking a career transition – these ten steps you can take over the holidays will set you
up for career launch success in 2020.
Job Search Readiness
First, attend to the basics that will make you job search “ready” – set aside time to complete
simple tasks that don’t need to take long, or that can be done in little chunks of time. By
tackling these completely, you will be ready to react when you see an opportunity or chance
to network over the break or as soon as you return to school.
- Prepare to interview – take time to formulate answers to interview questions. At Early
Stage Careers, we prepare clients by having them learn and develop robust answers to
common questions. Small investments of time can help you master the art of conversation in
both interviewing and networking situations.
- Get ready for video interviewing – invite a friend to catch up over Skype or Zoom.
Check if your settings, both on your computer and in your surroundings, work for a video
interaction. Ensure and test that your microphone and speakers work adequately, and your
chosen space is well-lit with nothing odd appearing in your background.
- Plan for individual company research – establish a method you can quickly replicate to
ensure you fully understand the company and its markets. Also, prepare substantive questions
that you can ask about a specific company’s products, training and growth plans.
- Get current on world events – spend a little time each day catching up, especially if your
school and activities in the fall kept you from staying informed about the news. You need to
be well versed in a variety of general topics during interviews.
- Update your resume, LinkedIn profile and cover letter – ensure job search materials
reflect your end of semester grades, activities, new skills and recent accomplishments. Make
sure these incorporate keywords that employers use to describe candidates they are seeking
for targeted opportunities that are right-fit for you. You will now be ready to act quickly
when you see a great opportunity.
Next, do some deeper thinking about your motivations and goals; your job search is likely the
first of many throughout your career, so align your search with the parameters that matter
- Explore your options – think about your skills and what you love to do. What are the
project and skill experiences that have allowed you to get lost in the moment? We think about
skills in terms of the employers seeking in the field you are considering. Think back over the
last several years to see if you can uncover where your passions lie and how they can align to
business opportunities as you plan your job search.
- Consider a Career and Skills Assessment – consider completing a career assessment with
a trained professional if you are feeling unsure of what direction to pursue. Earlier in 2019,
we explored in our newsletter; many clients find this to be the foundation they need to build
a successful job-search strategy. This is also a good time to evaluate your proficiency and
abilities in skills that employers are seeking in job candidates for specific roles.
Reach Beyond Your Comfort Zone
Completing your education and moving into your professional life involves learning to push
yourself, broadening your perspective and engaging with your community. It takes a plan to
meet these challenges without reservation.
- Get comfortable being a little uncomfortable – start by networking. If you are not sure
how to begin, read through our recent Armed with these tactics, actively try to help someone
else accomplish something. Expect nothing in return, but don’t be surprised if, someday, they
- Prepare to endure – understand that job searching is fraught with ups and downs. While
you are on break, treat yourself to rest and relaxation. Deadlines, pressure and rejection are
natural parts of any job search, so focus on
- Be open to taking positive risks – consider what it might be like to accept an opportunity
in a new city. While it is intimidating to think about relocating for an internship or new/first
job, it may be necessary. Consider what living elsewhere might entail. If you can spend a
little time traveling or simply thinking through the essentials, such as housing and
transportation options, you might be more open to accepting an interesting opportunity that
you find, or to joining a company that rotates new hires across various locations.
If ten steps seem to be more than one can tackle over the holidays or winter break, keep in
mind that several of them take very little time to complete. Remember, tackling these steps
while you have a break will be much easier than trying to balance job searching with your
additional responsibilities when the holiday season ends. Preparing for a well-executed job
search takes a plan, practice and engagement. Consider finding a partner who can help keep
things on track and guide your progress. the year to help these early job seekers establish
mastery of each of these components. Happy New Year and best wishes for successful job
searches in 2020!