While the end of the year can be a time for self-reflection, personally and professionally, January brings opportunities for a fresh start, a sense of optimism, and the potential for growth. With the holiday season here, there is no better time to focus and employ an eye-on-the-prize approach to job searching. 

But where do you start? Knowing how to land your dream job feels like finding a needle in a haystack; it’s tough and most of the advice out there is generic. We’ve identified a few key steps to get you to the interview and market your unique brand.

1. Get to know yourself. Discover what you actually want. Before you start combing through job openings and sprucing up your resume, take a moment and ask yourself:
  • What do I want to do? 
  • What am I passionate about?
  • What would my salary be? Is this realistic for me?
  • Who works in that industry? Whose brain can I pick to learn more?
  • What do I want out of my potential employer? What are the benefits I am looking for? 
  • Do I want to commute? Do I prefer remote work?

The point of this exercise is not to limit you from dreaming big, but to determine what the dream job looks like. You want to filter out jobs that aren’t the right fit for you and curate your story in order to achieve your career goals. If you’re stuck figuring out what you want, it can sometimes be helpful to identify what you DON’T want first!

2. Research the industry and know your skills. You can’t convince someone that you have something valuable to offer without knowing what that value is. Find out what it takes to land the position you want; this may require reviewing job descriptions or connecting with companies in your desired field to learn more about your dream job. Then audit your skills and identify the skills you want to showcase by packaging them into your resume. And if your dream job requires you to master digital skills, don’t hesitate to do your research on programs that can help you skill up.

Lauren Pizer, vice president of Learning & Design at Pathstream says, “It’s never too late to learn something new and potentially change careers. Every day, our career services team and coaches support students in pivoting their careers and pursuing something entirely new. It takes hard work, but it’s 100% possible in today’s economy.

3. Curate your brand. Ask yourself, does your resume narrate your achievements, highlight your skillset, and demonstrate what you can bring to an organization? It’s important not only to update your resume but also to catch the eye of your potential employer.  Instead of listing out day-to-day tasks you performed, consider,

  • Showcasing your impact and accomplishments
  • Demonstrating value in numbers and data (e.g. “Consistently achieved 20% above our daily invoicing goal”)
  • Including transferable skills (especially if you don’t have prior relevant experience)
  • Tailoring your resume to the role you’re applying for 
  • Marketing yourself — understand the unique value you bring to the marketplace and sell that in your LinkedIn profile, cover letter, interviews, or resume.

Watch our video How to Optimize Your Resume and Get Ready for a Conversation with a Recruiter.

4. Be visible and tap into your network. Let’s be honest: networking can feel overwhelming and can be a difficult task to approach with confidence. But, between 50-80% of jobs are filled through networking. Major companies typically receive about six times as many applications as there are employees in the company. This means that, while it’s not impossible to find a great job without a network, most people do get jobs through networking. So where do you start? 

Informational interviews are a great place to build up your network and relationships with people. Here are a few helpful tips:

  • Connect with people that hold the job you’re interested in or are in that industry (maybe an old classmate or former manager)
  • Research the person
  • Compose an email that’s specific and thoughtful – state that you’re looking for a brief information interview and don’t ask for a job.  
  • Prepare for the interview. Putting together talking points and having an outline shows that you are mindful of that person’s time and interested in what they have to say. 
  • Follow-up by thanking them for their time and keep in touch over time.

5. Are you telling your story in an authentic way? You’ve scored the interview, but how do you ace it? This is the time to sell yourself and be confident in your answers. Remember, YOU craft your story and YOU create the impression that people remember. We suggest approaching big questions like “Tell me about yourself” or “I want to learn more about your experiences” by:

  • Talking about your past and the skills you developed in previous professional experiences
  • Discussing your present by focusing on what you’re doing and learning
  • Closing with your dreams. Let your interviewer know where you want to go in the future.

If you want to become more confident in the story you tell, we give you the tools to excel in our workshop here.  

Lastly, remember to dream big and pursue! The time is now; whether you’re looking to future-proof your career by developing new skills or make big life changes in 2022, we have you covered.

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