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Essay: Your career

job search

Published: Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 2:06 p.m. CDT

The beginning of a new year is a great time to evaluate your career and decide if you are in the right place, or if it’s time to make a move.

Most economic indicators look positive for 2014.

Our homes are gaining value, the unemployment rate is at a five-year low and Congress figured out how to avert another government shutdown.

Consumer confidence is up, but how are you feeling about your career?

According to a Gallup poll published in the fall of 2013, 70 percent of American workers are not engaged or are actively disengaged from their workplace, meaning most of us are not thrilled with our jobs.

The current employment market can be a puzzle that is hard to solve, so if you are currently searching or are contemplating making a move, here are some things to consider.

Resume

It is always a good practice to update your resume. You never know when the next opportunity will present itself, and you want to be ready.

While resume writing is difficult, it’s a good exercise to review and update your accomplishments.

We are constantly adding new tasks to our own job descriptions, and you may not realize how much more you have to add if you’ve been at your job for more than a year.

Resumes have evolved over the years, too. If your resume has an objective on it, you really need an update. Professional summaries are now the norm. You also need list of job-related competencies that enable keyword searches to be performed by applicant tracking systems, which are the databases where your resume lands when you hit “apply” on job boards and company websites.

Refrain from adding pictures or personal information. And unless you are in a creative field, forget fancy fonts, colors or graphics.

Online strategy

Social media, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, are quickly becoming the new job boards. In fact, a survey by Gozaik, a social recruiting solutions provider, indicates that Twitter will outpace other social media channels in 2014 as a way to attract and engage talent.

You don’t have to be a pro at social media, but it should definitely be a part of your job search strategy. Ignoring these tools means missing out on potential opportunities. In addition, polish your LinkedIn profile and avoid posting anything you wouldn’t want a prospective employer to see online.

While there is much debate as to the legal and ethical questions of employers’ use of social media to vet candidates, it’s wise to remember what you do online could either help or hurt your career.

Time

Finding the right job will take time. Even in high-demand areas like IT and accounting, companies tend to move a little slower in this market. While it’s not true in every case, there are a couple of factors contributing to this trend.

After finally getting approval to hire, some companies want to vet as many candidates as possible, ensuring they make the best hire. Some employers (mistakenly) believe this is an “employer’s market” and they can afford to take their time.

Companies also are adding additional steps to the interview process. Multiple interviews are becoming common. Cultural fit is very important, and some companies are adding more people to the process to assess a candidate’s potential fit into his environment.

Regardless of the reasons, very few companies are speeding up the process. It can be frustrating, but it may actually work in your favor.

Interviews are a two-way street. You are evaluating the role and company just as much as they are evaluating you and your skills.

Take the time and effort to make sure the opportunity fits your career goals. Meeting potential coworkers will ensure you make the right decision, too.

• Jennifer Harris is a recruiting expert, with more than 20 years of experience as a leader in the search industry. Harris is the owner of CR Search Inc., an executive recruiting firm based in Lake County. Have a job-search related question for Harris? Email editorial@lakecountysuburbanlife.com.

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