Regardless of your religious affiliation just about everyone treats the month of December as the symbolic end of a cycle. Companies may not end their fiscal year now but “the fourth quarter” does end here. What does that mean to confidential or non-confidential job seekers? How can this time of year be productive? What traps can you fall into as a job seeker? After 20+ years guiding people through the job search maze let me provide some insight into how to be productive during this time and how to sabotage your own potential? Most importantly what does this holiday time represent to you, as a job seeker, confidential or not, during the last part of 2014? This isn’t the Great Recession folks. Look at some current news…that’s good! Oil is down. Gas prices are down. Companies are hiring and yes, wages are going up. It’s not bliss out there but it’s good news and you can profit from it.

 

The Current Employment Market

Before providing a few tips let’s examine some hard news that literally published this morning, December 5, 2014. According to the government’s official report, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 321,000 in November, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.8 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

United States Unemployment Rate US Bureau of StatisticsLet’s look at some impressive highlights. Job gains were widespread, led by growth in professional and business services, retail trade, health care, and manufacturing. Household Survey Data In November, the unemployment rate held at 5.8 percent, and the number of unemployed persons was little changed at 9.1 million. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 1.2 percentage points and 1.7 million, respectively. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed declined by 1.2 million. The civilian labor force participation rate held at 62.8 percent in November and has been essentially unchanged since April. The employment-population ratio, at 59.2 percent, was unchanged in November but is up by 0.6 percentage point over the year.

 

Your To Do List as a Job Seeker

What do these stats mean to you? It should mean that you need to amp up your job search and here are the simple fundamentals to consider if you are doing so during this holiday season.

1. Determine If You Are Doing a Confidential or Non-Confidential Search

If you are working and not heading the confidential nature that your search may require you could jeopardize your current employment. So you must develop a very specific, savvy search plan and build a Board of Advisors (paid and non-paid) to assist you in this stealthy or more open process.

2. Invest In Yourself and Promote It

Start or complete certifications, self study, training and the like. If you own a house and were selling a house you would make improvements or fixes that would make that house more valuable. Do this for yourself. If you went back to school or trained recently promote it and feature it. A lot of job seekers don’t fully promote, talk about or look engaged in the self education and improvement process. This can be a differentiating factor when you are searching for competitive opportunities.

3. Totally Refine Your LinkedIn Profile

If you are searching openly find out and about not only the profile secrets but the behavioral elements that make LinkedIn the premier job search aid that it is. Create a more powerful profile, learn how to use LinkedIn more creatively and develop the etiquette it takes to make it work the best for you. Don’t follow the common mistakes and popular opinions; find out what you need to do to reach your audience. Who is your audience? Who would you like to impress? That determines how I coach people on this powerful tool.

4. Know the Competition

Even in an improving job market the competition may be great. Think about this. More people believe they can win and gain new employment. The statistics say that more people are returning to work or believe they can transition. So you must stay competitive by finding out what your competition looks like to recruiters and hiring managers. You need to develop your value proposition with this in mind. You need to be open to critiques from friends, colleagues, references, career coaches and more. But take the positive and suggested changes and implement as many as you can. Every little bit counts in this job search process!

5. Dress for Your Career Success

Yesterday I walked into a Starbucks and noticed two job seekers from a local networking meeting I attended last week. They wore Crocs and were sipping a cup of coffee in front of their dirty laptop and stinky work out clothes. “We’re pounding out applications,” one said. “That’s what we need to do!” Their clothes were wrinkled and old looking and they did not look happy. I stopped over just to say hello and chat. I tried to cheer them up with another networking idea but they didn’t feel they had time.

 

Share your thoughts and feedback with us!

A few years ago I wrote this for The Ladders. What would you add to this list? What still applies and what would you ammend? Are you excited about your career? You should be!