If finding a job is at the top of your 2018 to-do list don't wait until 2 January to get started. While the month of December can be super busy and stressful for us working mums, it can also be a great time to take a few steps toward your New Year's resolutions and start building momentum for your return to work.
I've come up with four activities that are quick and easy to do but will have a big impact on your plans for January.
1. Take job description notes
Go onto one of the big job portals like StepStone or Monster and find five job descriptions you like the sound of. Print and read through the descriptions closely, paying attention to requirements and responsibilities. These two subheadings are full of useful information that can help you prepare your job search materials (your CV, cover letter and LinkedIn profile) and figuring out if there are any holes in your skill set. If one job requires you to be a whizz with Excel, you're probably OK not knowing it—but if every single position you're interested in does, it might be time to brush up on your Excel skills.
2. Create an employer target list
Create a list of target companies you’d most like to work for, whether or not they have any current openings. These may be companies that tend to offer jobs that fit your interests, organisations that have the company culture you’re looking for, and/or organisations with a mission you believe in.
Creating a list of companies to target will save yourself time when you’re ready to start your job search - it will stop you wasting time and energy applying for every job you come across, rather than only applying to jobs at companies that you believe are a good fit for you. Plus it will give you a clear road map to follow.
When you’ve got your target list in hand, research one company on your list. Review their website. Set up a Google alert so you’ll know whenever they are in the news. Follow them on social media. Look up their key employees on LinkedIn. Ask your current contacts (friends, family, colleagues, other job seekers, etc.) if they know anyone working at your target company.
3. Make a List of Potential Contacts
It’s true that now may not be the best time to network and reach out to anyone and everyone who might be able to help you in your job search, but that doesn't mean you can't at least get the ball rolling. Do your research, scan your brain, and scroll through your LinkedIn for potential people to contact.
Make an exhaustive list, narrow it down, and then begin drafting emails. I'd recommend waiting until at least a few days after the holidays have ended to actually send your carefully crafted emails or LinkedIn messages, keeping in mind that most people who took time off will be inundated with emails on their first day back in the office. And you definitely don't want yours to get lost in an overflowing inbox.
If you’re not sure what to say, here is a good template to use, along with three rules to remember for writing introductory emails.
4. Check your online presence
Google yourself and consider what your online presence looks like to a potential employer. What does does your online presence say about you? Will employers like what they see? Delete anything that's questionable - and turn your privacy settings on if there are any lingering doubts.
So there we have it, four activities that will place you in prime position for kicking off your journey back to work in the New Year. And if think you could benefit from some support from me and group of like-minded women, take a look at my new Back To Business online programme launching in January. Advice, ideas, next steps, action and lots of working mum love - it’s all going to be there!
Melanie Fieseler is Director at Work Happy Mums, the go-to resource for return-to-work professional women and career advancers. We're building a better future for working mothers and the organisations they work for. Join our community and help both our families and businesses thrive.
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