4. Check in with your recruiter
Make sure you and your recruiter are on the same page with your search goals, Chafel says; the holidays are a perfect time to check in, say hello, and let them know what you're up to. That way, when the right opportunity comes across their desk, your name will be top-of-mind.
"If you're working with a good recruiter, you should be able to gather some intelligence on the market, recent salary trends, which companies are hiring, and how to best start preparing for the upcoming interview process. Don't have a recruiter? Make that one of your resolutions for the new year. Ask your network for recommendations, and don't commit until you've found one that can be effective and who you can trust to have your best interests in mind," Chafel says.
5. Have a conversation with the candidate in the mirror
Before you start applying and interviewing, take an honest self-assessment of what's most important. Is it having the chance to take on more responsibility and advance? Is it having a work-life balance that allows you to coach your kids' sports teams on mid-week afternoons? Is it working for a company with a socially impactful mission? You may discover that your career goals and objectives are different from the last time you looked for a job, and that's okay, Chafel says.
"Priorities change. Getting the answers now will make the search process more efficient, and more importantly, ensure the highest level of personal and professional satisfaction with the outcome," he says.
6. Be ready to act
Regardless of how a new opportunity comes about, when it does, employers will be motivated to fill it quickly. If you're not ready to match their urgency, you could miss out. Make sure your resume is up-to-date and ready to be presented with confidence. Assemble a list of references you feel comfortable with and confirm their consent and readiness to come through for you. Prepare for interviews by crafting your elevator pitch -- a succinct, but powerful, message that explains what makes you unique and why a company can't live without you, Chafel says.
7. About that resume …
Having your resume ready to go means a lot more than just updating the months and years you've spent at your current employer. Resumes that include the basics -- overview, job titles, day-to-day responsibilities, education, etc. -- can all start to look the same. How do you make yours stand out?
"Start by highlighting how you have progressed within the organizations you've served. Instead of listing your responsibilities, detail what you have accomplished for the company. When you pick and choose what to include, give priority to what seems most pertinent for the new opportunity. Having a resume that yields lots of phone calls, but all for the wrong job, doesn't do you much good," Chafel says.
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