“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Why not make the most of your Christmas holiday and spend some time thinking, planning and upskilling for a productive new year?
You should see your CV not just as a few bits of paper, but as your whole online profile and reputation. So how can you make sure your CV and brand are in the best shape for the new year?
Our team of industry and recruitment experts see thousands of CVs a year - so we know what makes a stand out quality candidate. Here are just some of our tips that you can carry out during your festive down-time.
Optimise your LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn is quickly becoming the number 1 point of call for recruiters to view and vet candidates. However, many people still haven’t optimised their profiles.
- Take time to review your headline. What does it say about you? Just listing your job title is not enough. You’re a surveyor? So what? What can you offer? What is it about your experience that sets you apart?
- Make sure you have a professional and high-quality profile photo. Unfortunately, we all use unconscious bias to conduct judgments - so make sure that your photo portrays the values you have written down in your summary.
- Also - don’t forget about your background photo. Leaving this set to default sends the wrong message. You want to show your potential employers that you have something to offer and are fully engaged with social media. Use the photo to convey something about yourself. Online tools like Canva and PicMonkey can help you create this and you can find free images from Unsplash and Pixabay.
- Seek out endorsements from previous colleagues. A short reference can provide employers with a quick check about the veracity of your skills and achievements. You wouldn’t buy online without reading the reviews and employers think the same way!
- And finally, make sure you are regularly posting content which is relevant to your interests, your brand and your industry. Try to pen a few yourself. Writing and publishing your own content on LinkedIn is very easy and can make the difference.
Raise your social media profile
Start seeing your professional social media platforms as a way to promote your brand. Employers can see whether you are interested and engaged in the industry, whether you are a critical thinker and have creative ideas. Use this Christmas period to start building your network on relevant channels (think LinkedIn rather than Snapchat!), commenting on others articles and engaging in conversations. If you’re new to job hunting, it’s also the ideal time to so through a social media cleanse, taking down all those photos from the 18-30 holiday you went on from your Facebook profile or deleting obscenity-filled tweets from your student nights out. This will definitely not be wasted time and could open doors for you in the new year, ensuring recruiters only see what you’d be proud for them to see, not mortified
Learn something new
The top skills required in the next few years are around emotional intelligence, critical thinking, people management and creative problem solving. LinkedIn offers a range of courses for premium members. Or try sites like FutureLearn or the Open University’s OpenLearn which offer free courses on a broad variety of topics. Check out our post on the Top 10 skills you need to future proof your career.
Update your CV
For now, the CV still has a place - but it's important you keep this up to date.
- When reviewing your CV remember to be focussed on the skills you have acquired from your previous employment. Job titles are often too vague and non-descriptive to allow potential new employers to assess your value and skillset. Don’t see your CV as a static document. This should be ever evolving as you learn new skills.
- Make sure your skills are current. If you are still listing Microsoft Office as a skill - then this could be a red flag for some. Show that you are knowledgeable about the technologies used in your industry, whether that is Cloud Computing, BIM or a CRM platform.
- Demonstrate your value to the company. Those candidates who can make this explicit will be at the top of the pile for recruiters and employers.
- And finally add your social profile links.
Read industry news
Follow key influencers in your industry, sign up for newsletters and digests. Be an active participant in your field too. Comment, iteract, like - be active. Not only will this raise your profile but engaging in discussion about current news in interviews will set you apart.
Plan your networking for the year. Are there conferences you should attend? Use the first days in January to start mapping out your calendar and the key events that can help build your profile, your network and your skills.
Research your peers
Find out about the career paths of people in the field you admire. Check out who won industry awards.
Find a mentor
It may sound an overly American thing to do, but professional mentoring has proven to help career progression. Even if you are a seasoned executive - you could try reverse mentoring - finding a millennial to get you up to speed on the latest trends or technology is also beneficial. Ask someone you admire to coffee. You never know - their tips may give you an edge in the job market.