Now that the holidays have wrapped up, a growing number of companies will no doubt begin focusing their efforts on hiring. And that's good news if you're looking to get yourself a new job in the coming year. That said, looking for work can be a full-time job by itself, so it pays to approach the process strategically. Here are five ways to maximize your time and efforts.

1. Have different versions of your resume ready to go

While you might have a certain level of experience and a basic set of skills, the responsibilities and talents you choose to highlight on your resume might hinge on the roles you're applying to. Say you're a writer who's open to working for a marketing agency or an actual publication. In that case, you might play up your marketing skills when applying to the former or emphasize your publishing experience for the latter. Rather than have to tweak your resume each time you apply somewhere, have several versions of that document on hand from the start. This way, you'll spend less time editing, and you'll also be in a better position to jump on opportunities as soon as they arise.

Man on couch typing on laptop.


2. Network extensively

Many employers list open positions online -- either on job sites or their own individual sites -- so spending some time on the internet when looking for work isn't a bad idea. At the same time, however, don't make that your only means of searching. Rather, reach out to your network of contacts and ask the people you know if there are openings at their companies. Doing so might unearth opportunities you wouldn't easily have found. At the same time, you'll already have an "in," so to speak, that helps move your resume to the top of the pile.

3. Read job descriptions carefully

Applying to a single job can be a time-consuming process, especially when there's a cover letter to submit and online forms to fill out. Before you put yourself through that process, make sure the job in question is one that's actually viable. In this regard, job descriptions are really your friend, so read them carefully to see what the employers behind them are looking for. If, for example, you come across a position that seems great but also demands eight years of experience or more, there's little sense in applying if you've only spent two years in the workforce thus far. The same holds true if the job requires certain licenses or certifications you don't possess.

4. Know what you really want

Unless you're truly unhappy at work, to the point that any old job would be better than the one you currently have, it pays to create a checklist of things you're looking for in a new role. This will help you narrow your search and identify those jobs that are worth applying for. Think about the three or four most important aspects of the next job you get, and start by only submitting a resume for those that meet most (or all) of your criteria. This might help you avoid wasting time applying for roles that aren't actually right for you.

5. Understand what you're worth

Many jobs don't include salary information with their listings, but those that do give you a good opportunity to assess whether they're worth applying to. And that's why it pays to go into your job search with a strong idea of what sort of salary you can command based on your industry and work experience. The good news? There are plenty of online resources that will help you calculate your worth, so do some digging and come up with a salary range to work with. This way, you'll also have an easy answer if a recruiter or hiring manager responds to an application of yours and asks what you're looking for compensation-wise.

The start of a new year is a great time to pursue new professional opportunities. Follow these tips, and with any luck, your job search will be not only more efficient but fruitful as well.