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New Year, New and Improved You: How to be a Better You and Find that Next Job

2011 is almost here and while many of us have been eagerly awaiting a fresh start in a New Year, economists are not predicting any immediate or significant job growth until the end of the year. This news combined with an already challenging job search can stir up some additional anxieties in many of us. I thought I would again take a break from our regular format, to share some pointers on how to put your best you forward in 2011 to find that next great job.

While we don't have influence over the global marketplace and can't control all the issues that plague our lives, there are some things we do have power over. We can control our professional development, our attitude and our connections. We can become better at our job searching techniques, stronger in our industries, and even more indispensible to our next organization. For the New Year, resolve to be the most productive connected job seeker. Here are five strategies for starting your New Year off right:

Keep your network alive—It’s never a good idea to neglect your network. Reconnect with former colleagues and managers. A vital part of networking is nurturing the relationships you have right now. Make those phone calls or set up coffee dates with colleagues, managers, clients, and vendors. You also want to build your network by cultivating new relationships. Make a goal to participate in at least one face-to-face networking event each month—both within your profession and your industry. Ask your connections to introduce you to someone you want to meet. You also want to take those phone calls you are getting from others looking for work. We all know ‘one hand washes another’, and you never know when a friend may be able to return a favor and pass on your resume to a contact at your dream company. Having a vibrant network is crucial in the job search, but it can also help you gain a well-rounded perspective for staying positive during a job search.

Be recognized as an industry expert—When a CEO is faced with a business dilemma, who is she going to call? Will she bring in a consultant or come straight to you? Build your reputation so that when you land that next position you become your organization’s “go to” person in your discipline. Get at least one person (preferably a manager) from every company you’ve worked for to write a recommendation on LinkedIn. Start following recognized authorities in your industry on Twitter. Read as many good business books you can fit into your free time. Read your local and national trade publications, and follow the general business media. It is important to be knowledgeable about issues specific to your discipline, but you can make more of an impact at your next interview by being on top of all the current happenings in your industry.

Find a mentor—Maybe you think mentors are only for those just beginning their careers—think again. Mentors can serve as valuable resources in any stage of your profession. Think about the goals you would like to accomplish in the short- and long-term. Do you want to hone a skill set or embark on a new challenge? How can a mentor help you reach these goals? Your goal can be lofty (I want to be a SVP in five years) or more focused (I want to learn how to start a micro blog). Allow others to share their insights and expertise to help you achieve your aspirations.

Volunteer—Part of what keeps us grounded and focused in our lives and jobs is keeping a larger perspective. One way to gain that perspective is through volunteerism. You can volunteer at your time at a local food bank or volunteer your professional skill sets at an organization that needs it. You may be able to share a valuable skill with those who are in need—and learn something in the process. By helping others, you can help yourself—and your job search.

Exercise resilience—The companies that have fared best under these uncertain economic circumstances have shown organizational resiliency. You can show personal resiliency as well by taking care of yourself—physically, mentally, spiritually, and professionally—so you will be better able to handle the challenges and opportunities 2011 may bring. Happy New Year!

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