Many people head into the new year with all sorts of personal improvement goals. Some people want to lose weight, others vow to stop a bad habit, and a lot of folks hope to get a better job.
Improving your work situation, however, isn't like getting in better shape or stopping smoking. It's not something you can do on your own.
To get a better job, you need someone who's hiring. That's not something you can do yourself, but there is a lot of work you can do to make yourself a better candidate. Nor can you control whether someone hires you, but you can land yourself more interviews and dramatically increase your odds.
Here's what our Foolish investors have to say about finding a job.
Network, network, network
Maurie Backman: There are lots of things you can do to improve your chances of getting a better job. You can try taking a class or getting certified to boost your skills or work on producing an outstanding resume. But my suggestion is to focus on networking if you're looking to get ahead in your career.
While it's important to have strong skills and a solid resume, ultimately, it's the people you meet and develop relationships with who might play the biggest role in boosting your career. LinkedIn reports that between 2015 and 2016, 85% of jobs were filled through networking.
You never know when one of your contacts might share a new job opening or be willing to vouch for your talent, so be sure to make 2018 the year you work on building relationships and expanding your list of associates. You can do this in a number of ways, whether it's attending industry events and conferences, reaching out through online platforms and social media, or simply asking your existing contacts for introductions. The more you put yourself out there, the more opportunities you'll be exposed to.
Improve your skills
Jason Hall: A common refrain from a lot of employers is they struggle to find skilled workers. At the same time, there are millions of Americans who say they can't find a better job because they don't qualify. Well, do something about it!
A great place to start is to identify some of the in-demand careers where you live, reach out to the hiring managers or HR departments at those companies, and ask them what kind of training and skills they have trouble finding. Once you've done that, go get trained, whether at your local community or technical college, through online coursework, or with on-the-job training such as apprenticeship programs.
This isn't just applicable to people looking to get into a new, better-paying field, either. If you already have a professional degree, there may be certain certifications or specialties you could add to your education that might make you more marketable and more valuable within the same field you currently practice in.
The big takeaway here is that you can't sit back and just expect to get more money unless you have something to offer. Take the time to actively find out what's in demand and worth more than you're getting today, and then invest in yourself with more training so employers will want to pay you more.
Become a better interviewee
Daniel B. Kline: While some people are naturally good at being interviewed, most are not. You would probably be shocked at how often, back in my days as someone who hired, I would bring in someone with a good-looking resume for an interview and the person would blow it. Sometimes it would be an easily corrected lack of preparation, and other times the person was just uncomfortable with the situation.
If a person had not prepared, I wasn't going to hire them. Preparing means knowing some basic facts about the company, the job, and the person doing the interview, assuming all of those things are publicly available. If you can't do that much work, then it suggests to me you probably won't be a great employee.
In the second situation, where someone is simply bad at being interviewed or nervous, I'm more forgiving, but others may not be. There's only one way to get better at job interviews, and that's to practice. Ask your friends to stage mock interviews with you or record yourself answering interviews questions.
You want to get to the point where the information you want to convey is at the top of your mind. You'll also want to get used to talking about yourself.
Practice may not make perfect, but it will make you better. It's also reasonable in some cases to tell the person interviewing you that you're not great at interviews while laying out the work you have done to get better. That shows a willingness to tackle tough work and an ability to gain skills outside your comfort zone.
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