7 Career & Job Search Habits to Make 2011 a Happy New Year

The New Year is here is with it comes our resolve to do more & do it better. But that’s not easy unless we put the proper structures in place to support our goal attainment. Here, then, are 7 habits I recommend for those serious about more committed careers & productive job searches in 2011:

Email less, call more. Most of us spend too much time emailing & too little time connecting interpersonally these days, so why not start the New Year off in social style? Pick up the phone at least once a day in place of email. You’ll enjoy whatever you’re doing more, & the daily interpersonal refresher will enrich your communications skills.

Our 2011 planners are in virgin form, so plan your vacations & days away now. If possible, aim for a workday off a month, a long weekend at least once a quarter, & at least 1 week off every 6 months. If you can play more & work less, by all means do so, & remind the rest of us to get with the same inspiring program.

While you’re planning, also schedule some career development activities. From a class or degree/certificate program to skills seminars & self-study, there are options for every budget available. If your budget doesn’t allow you to purchase training/education so early in the New Year, at least pencil in possibilities now for later in the year when your budget eases up. Even if you cannot enroll yet, you can explore options, sign up for newsletters, or select a few key books to start reading.

Try a 90-minute work schedule.  This is one of the secrets to getting a ton of work done in very little time.

  • Each work segment is alternated with a 15, 30, or 60-minute break which I use for errands, chores, lunch, creative work, exercise, reading, & so forth ~ the kinds of activities that help me to switch gears, relax, & rebuild energy & focus for my next 90-minute marathon.
  • Each mini-marathon is tightly structured with clear work goals/projects which I tackle one right after the other. If I cannot complete a project within a 90-minute window, I specify which parts of it I will work on & plan as many windows as I need to finish the whole thing.
  • I start my morning with a 90-minute period, then break for 15 minutes to grab a healthy snack, drink some water, & tackle a simple chore like cleaning off my desk. Or, I might do a short meditation, brainstorm an article/blog post, or read an article/newsletter on a subject of interest.
  • I head back into another 90-minute period, then take time out for a longer break, usually 30 or 60 minutes. With this break I try some form of exercise, drink some more water, & do something engaging that gets me totally away from my desk. Perhaps I take my beagle mix for a walk, run an errand, wash the dishes, or sift through recipes to try for dinner.
  • Depending on my schedule, I continue alternating work/play in 90 & 15/30/60-minute cycles until early evening. By day’s end, I’ve completed a ton of work, yet I don’t feel exhausted or drained. Rather, I feel energized, as if I have done nothing but fun all day. If this works for a business owner, it will certainly work for most work environments & job search schedules, too.

Take an Artist’s Date at least once a week. Artist’s Dates are the inspiration of Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way & multiple other best-sellers. Cameron maintains that we each need to prime our creative “pump” weekly by taking ourselves out alone for some form of artistic plan. She suggests 2 hours. That amount of time might not fit in your schedule, but at least 30 minutes should.

  • An Artist’s Date can be something fun you do at home, or someplace you go – it doesn’t matter so long as you can maintain a focus on something creative.
  • Examples of Artist’s Dates include: shopping at an art or office supply store, attending a creative class, sketching a sunset, working on your Great American Novel, playing around with clay, or trying out a new recipe.
  • Artist’s Dates nourish your soul & help generate the energy you need to do more run-of-the-mill work. Without them, you will burn out faster & struggle more with the routines in your life.

Spend weekly time executing your LinkedIn strategy. If you’re currently employed & can reasonably expect to remain so, then invest 1 hour or more each week on LinkedIn. What will you do with that time?

  • Read your InMail
  • Process connection requests
  • Read what folks in your network have been doing lately
  • Write & request testimonials
  • Find new connections, whether on your own, running LinkedIn’s email address importer process, or reviewing the “people you may know” suggestions LinkedIn offers you daily
  • Read the discussion posts of LinkedIn groups you belong to & comment when appropriateReview LinkedIn’s “questions” function & answer one if you can

If you are currently in job search mode or unemployed & looking for that next position, then you really need to invest at least 1 hour a day on LinkedIn, if not considerably more. What will you do with that time? All of the above, plus:

  • Brainstorm, develop, & upload a slide show, white paper, bio, blog post, or other document to your profile using a LinkedIn app such as Slideshow or Box. net
  • Use LinkedIn’s follow function to track employment & other happenings at companies you’re targeting
  • Actively promote your brand in LinkedIn’s discussion boards (associated with each LinkedIn group you belong to)
  • Source new groups to join & become active in
  • Post a resource, idea, or question to each group’s discussion board
  • At least once weekly, post your personal commercial in relevant industry or job search groups
  • Use LinkedIn’s search function to proactively find new companies to target
  • Use LinkedIn’s search function to proactively source new 1st-, 2nd-, or 3rd-level connections at target companies
  • Run key word searches on LinkedIn’s job board to identify new words you should incorporate into your profile
  • Solicit key word-rich testimonials from current/former colleagues/managers
  • Find & participate in relevant industry or networking events advertised on LinkedIn
  • Download & use LinkedIn’s job search applications to help you identify key connections when you visit companies or job boards outside of LinkedIn
  • Test different key word & photo combinations to see which work best for you

Reassess your career brand. Now that the New Year is here, it’s time to review your career brand & realign it as needed to reflect what you’ve learned about yourself in the last year, what you have achieved, & the ways your career direction has changed. Your career brand isn’t a static, never-changing thing, but an organic, constantly-evolving picture of you that you must tweak on a continual basis. Ask yourself:

  • How am I different this year?
  • What new skills, methodologies, & techniques have I gained experience in?
  • What have I achieved in my work in the last year?
  • What clarity have I gained about my ideal role, company, & industry?
  • Weave your responses to these questions into your brand statement, resume career summary, LinkedIn profile, bio, & 10-/20-/30-/60-second commercials to keep your branding fresh, accurate, & magnetic.

The bottom line? Your goals don’t have to fall by the wayside like those of so many of us – with a few good ideas & the right tool or 2, you have indeed have your best year yet!

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About Cheryl Lynch Simpson

Cheryl is a Career, Job Search & LinkedIn Coach and Master Resume Writer. She has helped clients in >35 industries on 6 continents and has earned 24 global resume writing nominations and awards.

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