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New Year, New Career: Five top tips to prepare for a career change in 2019

As we move into a new year it is not uncommon for professionals to start contemplating new career opportunities and how they want to develop and grow their career in 2019. Are you are one of those thinking about making a change this year? If so here are five key steps to prepare you for your upcoming job search and ideas on how to stay ahead of the game during a competitive time of the year.

Define your career goals and establish your reason for leaving.

To make a successful career change, you need to establish a clear direction. This involves defining both your short and long-term goals. Begin by thinking about the past year – did you achieve the goals you set yourself? If not, what prevented you from reaching them and is there a clear reason why you are thinking of moving on. These reasons and goals will play a big influence on what role you want to move into.

Next, pinpoint exactly what it is you’re looking for. Would you like a pay rise, a promotion, more responsibility, a completely new role/company or a new industry? Above all, your career goals need to be very specific and work for you so spend some time focusing on them. When these are in line you should have a clearer idea of what you're really after.

Assess your skills.

There’s nothing worse than being in a role where you feel completely inadequate and underqualified. Yet, on the other hand, if you could do your daily tasks in your sleep, you’re far too comfortable. Ideally, you want to strike a balance between the two. The aim is to constantly feel challenged and develop your skills whilst working.

To help you secure this type of role, start by assessing your strengths and weaknesses. Make a list of your current skills and the tasks that you perform best at work vs your weaknesses and greatest challenges. This will enable you to identify gaps in your knowledge and areas for further development, which will be the basis for your career goals. Next, consider exactly how you’re going to work towards them – e.g. will you undergo training or take an online course? With a concrete plan of action, you’ll be able to set yourself realistic targets and deadlines for achieving them.

Make sure your personal brand is updated.

Make sure your CV is updated with your most recent achievements, both inside and outside the workplace. If you’re looking for an internal promotion, highlight all of your responsibilities and the impact you’ve made in your role. If you want to move to another company, however, you must completely adapt your CV. This will require you to fully research the company, what they do, what they’re looking for, and what the role entails. Sending a “one-size-fits-all” CV will get you nowhere, so this needs to be targeted.

Next, update your LinkedIn profile and other social accounts. Rather than simply copying and pasting your CV, think about how you can expand on your experiences/achievements and really catch the eye of a recruiter. After all, nearly 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn to source top candidates for roles. It’s also a great way to connect with professionals and expand your network. Also, ensure that you remain professional across social networks, employees often check applicant’s social accounts during the interview process and if they reflect badly, it can affect hiring decisions.

Reach out to your network.

Now that you’ve perfected your profile, think of ways to support your application and make sure it gets noticed. Explore your network and get in touch with any relevant contacts you may have in your target company or industry. You could also source any key contacts at the desired company, e.g. in their HR department, and pick their brains about the application process. Any additional insights you can gather will add colour to your application and prove to companies you’ve really done your research.

Explore your options and where you want to work next.

Don’t just rush into the first job you find or interview for, take time to explore your options and work out where you want to work. Remember that you need to want the job as well as them wanting you so make sure to ask questions during the interview process and do your research of the company. Is this the place you want to work next?

Alternatively, why not consider freelance project work to gain experience whilst you explore your options. You are not alone during your career search and you can contact one of our expert consultants at hello@freshminds.co.uk to find out more about opportunities that we have available and how we can help you find your perfect career.