12 New Year's Resolutions to Improve your Job Search

by Samantha Ogletree

The new year is a great time to reflect on where you’re at career-wise, where you’ve been, and where you’d like to be. Are you hoping to change careers into a new industry? Are you wanting to advance your career and get that promotion? Or are you looking to land your first job in the technology field? It all takes breaking down your big goals into smaller, manageable steps. Thankfully, we’ve got some resolutions (one for each month of the year) that you can use as guides to getting closer to the career you love and deserve.

Resolution #1 - Leverage your LinkedIn

If you do it right, you can use LinkedIn to constantly test your marketability—without jeopardizing your current employment. Flesh out your profile to the best of your ability. This includes adding your relevant work history, uploading a professional profile photo, and writing (or sharing) content that pertains to your industry. We host a free webinar called Leverage Your LinkedIn where we cover all of this and more. After the webinar, we review your LinkedIn profile and give you our expert opinion and recommendations based on your career goals.

Resolution #2 - Have someone review your resume

If you don’t know where to start with your resume, focus on three high-impact, high-value areas: 1) write a brilliant introductory paragraph or objective statement for your resume; 2) organize the sections of your resume intelligently; and 3) prune your resume so that it doesn’t go past 3-4 pages. If you have what you believe to be a solid and structured resume, reach out to a mentor to review it and give you constructive feedback. We offer a free webinar called Resume Building for Technology Professionals, after which we offer a free Ruthless Resume Review for attendees. It’s not as scary as it sounds, we promise!

Resolution #3 - Respond to or connect with a (good) recruiter

If you aren’t receiving outreach from a recruiter or hiring manager via LinkedIn, email, or a job board, then focusing on Resolutions 1 & 2 should be a priority. Because when you do accomplish these tasks properly, you are going to make it very inviting for recruiters to reach out to you. When they reach out, you receive real time feedback regarding how you are presenting yourself and the roles recruiters think you are suited for. Regardless of whether they are in the right ballpark, it won’t benefit you to ignore or ghost these recruiters. You should be pumping them for data. When they think they have a great job for you, you want to understand all of the parameters so that you can see what type of work at what rate of pay your profile is attracting. If a role is just ridiculously off, you can either politely say no thank you or you can ask what about your profile made the recruiter think it would be a good match for you. Let’s face it, some recruiters are just not very good. But the feedback you get from a skilled recruiter about why they reached out could be invaluable. 

Resolution #4 - Network within your industry's community

The pandemic changed a lot with regards to networking and community events, but it doesn’t mean these communities have abandoned all activities! There are plenty of user groups that still meet virtually to code, mentor, and host job fairs. We love attending these users group meetings because not only does it help us keep abreast of the latest technological advancements, it also allows us to interact with the cream of the crop developers - those who are so passionate about their craft that, after a long day of work, they choose to spend an evening attending a lecture on the tools of their trade. Most of these organizations are meeting virtually on Slack, Reddit, and Zoom (through Eventbrite). One in particular that we have enjoyed engaging with is Canton Coders—you can join their Slack channel from the homepage of their website.

Resolution #5 - Learn a new language or skill

You may not have every skill that an employer requires for a role they’re looking to fill, but being a self-starter and having a desire to grow your skills says a lot to them about your potential. If you have a desire to learn a new language, go for it! Computer programs, mobile apps, websites, games, software–they all require their own unique programming language. There are clearly defined steps online that can help you decide which language to learn and how to get started. Utilizing a mix of the many approaches to learning software engineering and programming can be extremely effective.

Resolution #6 - Upload your resume to a job board or candidate database

Once you have a good handle on your resume, it’s important that you get it out to the right people. You can upload it to a job board like Indeed, Dice, or Monster, and see what kind of nibbles you get. As a caution, these sites sometimes ruin the formatting of your resume, so make sure you view it for legibility after it’s been uploaded. Keep in mind that even if you are highly qualified for a job that’s posted on a job board, you can be rejected. This is because the artificial intelligence (AI) on the intake side didn’t find a specific word or phrase on your resume or in your application. Fortunately, we use human intelligence liberally at Stout Systems when it comes to the right job for the right candidate. When you submit an application to our candidate database, a human looks at your resume and assesses not just your achievements, but your potential. Your resume wont’ go into a black hole either–we make a point to respond to your application whether or not we have a role for you.

Resolution #7 - Read more technical articles

Whether you’re just starting out in the tech industry or you’ve been a tech whiz for decades, you need to keep learning all the time. You can find new ways to solve problems, new technical tools, and insightful perspectives in technical articles. Every month, we publish our Informatizer, a technical and business blog, and send it out via email to our subscribers. Titles have included Software Architecture: How Much is Too Much?, Debugging Impossible Bugs: Try Making it Worse, Programmatically Rending PDFs from HTML using Chrome and Puppeteer, and much more. Some technical blogging sites for developers where we publish a wide variety of topics are dev.to, medium.com, and showwcase.

Resolution #8 - Let your enthusiasm shine in your interview

If you genuinely are excited about a job opportunity, the interview is not the time to put on your poker face. If you are feeling excited about a role, a company, or a development team, make sure that your interviewers know it. It just might make the difference between your getting the role over somebody else. As the saying goes, we tend to like people who like us. Additionally, hiring managers don’t just want good technical fits, they want people who are going to stick around for a while. People who are genuinely excited about their jobs are generally the ones who end up staying.

Resolution #9 - Learn when you've received a low-ball salary offer

Some job advertisements don’t discuss salary, but there will always be some that do. That helps you understand the trend of wages or salaries for your role. There is plenty of salary survey data available. You can go to salary.com, plug in your job title and your location, and get a nice salary bell curve that is backed by a lot of data points. But let’s say you’re not in a commodity role. Or you would like to get promoted. Or you would like to make more money. Or you would like to make a career pivot. Are you qualified? How much money can you earn? How can you be sure? You can look at job advertisements to understand what the requirements are for the next job you want to land. If you clearly meet or exceed the requirements, that’s a pretty good way to tell that you are qualified. And salary surveys and ranges given in job advertisements are a good way to generally understand the prevailing market rates.

Resolution #10 - Document like you code

A well-run organization that develops software, hardware, or services, requires a large amount of documentation to ensure the products and services meet their objectives and timelines of the organization. Creating the documentation, tracking changes, and informing the stakeholders is often difficult and poorly executed—but it’s a very important skill to have under your belt. You can learn more about version control systems for source code and the best choice for documentation in our Informatizer article.

Resolution #11 - Read the job description

It should go without saying, but reading the job description in today’s market can put you a step above the other candidates. Efforts to simplify and expedite the application process for candidates are now having an interesting consequence: candidates frequently don’t read the full job description for the role they are applying for. In some cases, AI algorithms tell candidates that they are a good match for a role—so the candidates click the APPLY button. Consider taking the time to read the role requirements and job responsibilities to make sure this is a job that you are qualified for and interested in. Then, hit the APPLY button!

Resolution #12 - Be prepared (and have a plan!) for entertaining multiple job offers

Considering the current job market, candidates who take these resolutions seriously can most likely prepare to receive multiple offers, if not many offers, at the same time. This is a good thing! But it can be a bit confusing or overwhelming when it comes to determining which offer is best for you. Stick to asking yourself six questions to help you decide: 1) How recession proof is your offer? 2) Are there hidden perks and/or hidden costs? 3) Is there a career trajectory? 4) Will that career trajectory land you your next job? 5) How much do you value work/life balance? 6) Are you going to like your second family?

2023 could be the year you level up your career and land the job you love. I hope these resolutions will give you a foundation to build on and some guidance in your job search. As always, if you’re looking for work, please submit your resume or browse our job board to determine if you are a match for a job that we have available. We host free career webinars every week - visit our event calendar to RSVP!

Stout Systems is the software consulting and staffing company Fueled by the Most Powerful Technology Available: Human Intelligence®. We were founded in 1993 and are based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We have clients across the U.S. in domains including engineering, scientific, manufacturing, education, marketing, entertainment, small business and robotics. We provide expert level software, Web and embedded systems development consulting and staffing services along with direct-hire technical recruiting and placements.

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