It's the time of year when all the commercials you see on TV seem to have magically shifted from hawking toys and luxury goods to encouraging you to have less in your life: whether it's weight, nicotine craving or stress, the resolution season all seems to be about reduction. With that in mind, then, here are a few tips for ways to slim down your job hunt for 2014:
STOP: Blind-submitting your resume
Seriously. When was the last time you—or anyone you know—got offered an interview after throwing your resume into the void? If you don't have someone at a firm that can refer you for a job you're interested in (i.e. a person who can email your resume directly to a recruiter or hiring manager), then spend your time trying to find someone. If all else fails on that front:
START: Tailoring your resume and cover letters for individual job openings
This involves more than just finding the name of a contact person so you don't have to open with "Dear Sir/Madam." Read the job ad and take note of the language used there, and mirror it in your application—and especially in your resume. With so many firms using software as their initial resume screening tool, using the appropriate keywords is an unfortunate necessity for those hoping to ensure that they make it to the point where a real, live human will consider their application.
STOP: Applying for every job you see
There are times in the job search where it can feel like the right position will never come along and, with most recruiters just an email away, it can be difficult to resist the temptation to just submit an application for a position that you know isn't right. However, the reasons not to include lapsing into bad habits (see the points above), as well as taking your time and attention away from securing a position that you'd actually want to land.
START: Working your network
What better time of year than winter to pull out one of the oldest chestnuts in the job search field? As oft-repeated as it may be, the advice to ask friends, family, former colleagues and the like to keep an eye out for possible openings for you has never been more timely. Letting people know that you're looking—and what you're looking for—will ensure that you're top of mind when that internal-notification-only position opens up at your old college roommate's office.
STOP: Confusing "searching a job site" with "searching for a job"
If it isn't abundantly clear by now, there's a whole world of positions out there that never make it to the online job boards, while the ones that do attract fierce competition.
START: Filling in the gaps on your resume
Whether it's a new skill or certification, or the need to list recent experience when you haven't worked for a while, there's no time like the present to start adding to your resume. Despite the sluggish job market, options like online education, classes at your local college, and volunteer work can all provide skills and experiences that could make the difference on your next interview.
Do you have any job-search tips heading into 2014? Let us know in the comments below.