By Linda Van Valkenburgh
As we approach the New Year, some people are contemplating what they are going to do to bring in the New Year.  Will they get together with friends?  Go to a restaurant?  Attend a party?  Go away for the weekend?  Others, who have been in transition for a while may decide to go to bed early and let the New Year go by unnoticed, depressed at their predicament, feeling helpless and alone.  I am here to tell you that there is no need to pull the covers over your head and hide in despair.  Following my Top Ten List for Career Transition 2011 will help energize you and jumpstart your career search for the coming year. So, here goes!!!

The Top Ten Things to Do for Career Search 2011 are as follows:

#1 – Adjust your attitude – This is the first item you need to address.  Why? You need to have a positive attitude to bring to employers.  You need to believe in yourself and the fact that you bring value to the employer’s table.  If you have not gotten any interviews previously, you need to put all of that into the past and start fresh.  To quote Kevin Costner’s character in the movie “For Love of the Game,” you need to “Clear the mechanism.”  Get rid of the stuff that is weighing you down to release the energy that you need to do an effective career search.

#2 – Change your environment – This encompasses a lot of things.  First, make sure that the actual area where you conduct your search is clear and organized so that you can function.  It is very easy to get bogged down when there is stuff all over.  Make your spot and guard it like a pit bull.  Do not let anyone or anything get into your area.  Second, take the time to keep it organized.  A few minutes here and there can make a big difference.  Otherwise, you will start to feel the pull down and away from what you need to do.  Third, get rid of the negativity that surrounds you.  This can come in the form of TV shows. News broadcasts, talk shows and other types of programs that discuss the state of employment should be removed from your viewing schedule.  Forget about what “THEY” report.  I have clients that are transitioning to new positions.  These clients keep the negativity to a minimum and keep themselves focused on the end result.  You can do this, too.

#3 – Make an action plan – Sit down at a time that you are alone and can be quiet with your thoughts.  Think about what you need to do to move yourself forward.  Perhaps you need to refresh your resume, re-work your cover letter or update your profile on LinkedIn.  Sit down and write it out.  If ideas come to mind as you are doing this, make a side note so that you do not lose your thoughts. Also, if you have a plan, look over your plan and see what needs to change – what needs to be tweaked a little and what needs a complete makeover.

#4 – Document your search – One of the things that causes people to get down is that they cannot see how much they have been doing to reach their goal.  Make a writing of some sort, whether it is a Word Document or an Excel spreadsheet, and keep track of what you have been doing. This can save time when you are looking for things and give you a sense of accomplishment that you are moving in the right direction.  Be disciplined to keep updating it.

#5- Network – As I have stated ad nauseum, networking is a critical factor in career search.  Look at your contacts.  See who you need to schedule one-to-ones with and do it. If you are afraid to speak to people because you are afraid that you will get rejected, then do it in writing in the form of an email, LinkedIn communication or facebook message.  The worst that happens is you get rejected (more about that later).  You never know what can happen and what relationships you might re-kindle.  There has been a shake-up in the world order.  You are not the only one to have experienced it. So, you may find that people respond differently than you anticipate.

#6 – Use new technology in your job search – Be open to new things.  Accept the fact that there is no going back to the old way of doing things to get a new job.  Opening up the NY Times Classified or whatever newspaper you read cannot be the sole method of finding a new job as it was in years past.  For example, if you embrace one new way to search, it should be using Twitter.  More than a million jobs a month are advertised on Twitter.

#7 – Prepare – Do your homework and research the companies you are looking to apply to.  So much is available to be able to do this.  In addition, prepare for success.  Think about what will happen when you get the anticipated email that says, “I am contacting you from the HR Department and would like to schedule a telephone interview.”  Are you ready?  If not, what do you have to do to get ready?  You may want to review my blog post about telephone interviewing.

#8 – Get out – Get out of your house or apartment.  Be out among people.  It will make you feel less isolated.  In addition, it will give you the chance to speak to new people and you never know what can happen.  You may meet someone who you can help or who can help you.  You don’t have to be out spending money.  Go to the library or other places, lectures and events that are free. In addition, look for ways to volunteer.  This helps you to feel good, keep up your skills, learn new skills and contribute to society.  It positions you to come into new situations that you may use on interviews or in networking groups. There is an old saying that I have heard that says “Change your place, change your luck.”

#9 – Work past your fear – Career search can be scary.  The successful people are the ones who go past their fears.  They shut out the negative voices in their heads and push forward with determination and fortitude.  They take no prisoners and will not accept “No.”  They understand that failure and rejection are a part of the process and keep pushing forward.  Put on blinders, keep focused on what you want. Focus on the fact that you want a job, not that you don’t have a job.  There is a distinction here. Focus on your goal and move forward when you do not hear back or get rejection emails or calls.  Remember, in baseball, our national pastime, you are expected to strike out a lot before you have success.  Keep hitting the ball.  Apply to positions, speak to people, put your resume up on job boards, send it to recruiters, look at company websites, network, and keep getting out there.  Eventually, something is bound to happen as the law of averages eventually provides success. But, you have to do it.

#10 – Ask for what you want – This is a very hard thing for people to do.  You are the only one that can do it for yourself.  If you feel that you need help, get it.  Whether you need someone to review your resume, proofread your cover letters, or a career coach to guide you in search, there is a way to get whatever you want.  You have to ask for it.  You may be surprised at some of the answers that you get.  In your mind, you have already turned yourself down or determined that the cost is too prohibitive.  Take a deep breath, pause and you may be pleasantly surprised at the answers that you get.  Give people a chance and if it doesn’t work out, change things up a little and try again. Be open-minded and you will be surprised at what may happen.  Companies want to hire people like this.  They want people who can deal with failure, rejection and frustration because this is what you will deal with when you are at work.  Show them what you are made of and how you can come up with the innovative ideas no matter what your age.

Best wishes for a very Happy and Healthy New Year to you and your families.

I wish you every success in 2011.