It's the first week of January and now is the time start the search for your new job. Don't waste any time before putting your News Year's career resolution into action. Actually, organizations' Q1 hiring process is usually underway by the time the Thanksgiving leftovers are finished. This is an ideal time to prepare for job interviews and fill out applications, says Rachel Polhemus, senior partner at WK Advisors, a division of executive search firm Witt/Kieffer that offers mid-level executive search consulting services.
"To get ahead of the competition, start planning for your next position. Take this time to reflect on your achievements, set career goals, buff up resumes, and network with family, friends, and other acquaintances," Polhemus says.
Resolve to Start Fresh in the New Year
The start of the calendar year is a perfect time to take stock and get organized for a fresh start. Be reflective and thoughtful about the achievements of the previous year and your goals for the next, and use those to launch a new job search or to reinvigorate an ongoing search. "This time of year is a great time to put together an action plan for landing new job opportunities. Make note of what you've achieved and how to present that in the best light," Polhemus says.
Time Management Is Key
A lot of this is about time management, according to Polhemus, who says, "Focus on time management. Carve out an hour or so each day to do research, work on your resume, do research and online networking. While most resolutions fizzle sometime around the end of January, approach your job search like you do going to the gym; set aside chunks of time each week to devote to this activity."
A great place to start is to honestly take stock of your situation. Create a list, benchmark your skills and then sum up any new knowledge or skills you acquired over the previous year. Add any courses you've taken or major projects completed. With list in hand find a way to succinctly communicate these items and refresh your resume.
Network, Network, Network
While you don't want to spend every moment gathering networking and job-hunting, do make sure you're taking advantage of these situations if work-related conversations arise, notes career consultant, job search expert, author and speaker Rick Gillis.
"We often don't realize who our family members know and who they're connected to. Uncle Bob knows a guy with connections in the IT department at that major firm you'd love to work at? Great -- leverage that connection. You never know unless you ask, so make sure your family and friends know that you're searching, and have a general idea of what you're looking for. It can be a great place to make connections happen," Gillis says.
The same goes for acquaintances, says Polhemus, who advises job seekers to use their natural intellectual curiosity to make the most of every potential networking encounter.
"Don't necessarily look at every social situation as a job interview, but certainly be inquisitive. Ask people to talk about what they do, what their roles are, their work background and their company. Especially if you're going through a career change or looking to move into a new position, it's a great way to start networking and seeing what sparks your interest and matches up with your skills," says Polhemus.
Recruiters Are More Available
If you act now you'll be facing decreased competition, says John Sullivan, an HR thought leader, author, speaker, consultant and a professor of management at San Francisco State University.
Top-performing recruiters are pushing hard to fill open positions, many projects stall, hiring managers are increasingly available and almost everyone who's hiring is increasingly receptive to phone calls and outreach, says Sullivan. "The best time to recruit is when others are idle and when the candidates are most available and receptive," Sullivan says.
You Should Jump Start Your IT Job Search for 2015 Now
Remember that you're only looking for one job, says Rick Gillis. In his own experience, Gillis believes the prime hiring season for businesses takes place in January, February and March, and so the time for candidates to ready themselves is now.
This story, "Looking for a job? Your search should start now" was originally published by CIO.