7 Vital Career ‘Resolutions’ You Should Make for 2012

Personal Branding

Part I of II Parts

Editor’s Note: In this the first of a two-part series, international best-selling job hunting book author and professional “headhunter” Skip Freeman examines some key career moves employed job seekers should resolve to make in the upcoming year—if they want to land their dream job in 2012. In Part II, Skip will examine the resolutions unemployed job seekers should consider making in 2012.

Most of us make at least a few “resolutions” every New Year, and a few of us even keep some of them! As we enter 2012, which is shaping up to be another challenging year for the job market, I would like to suggest the seven most important “resolutions” you should seriously consider making for the New Year, if you are currently employed but don’t exactly wake up each work day and head off to your “dream job.”

If you’re like seven out of ten currently employed people and have just about had it with your present job (and/or employer) because you’ve been doing the work of at least two (and possibly three or more!) people, have received little or no raises in several years, are feeling more and more put upon, unappreciated, etc., then NOW is the time to ACT! As the late Steve Jobs so cogently (and presciently) pointed out, “Life’s fragile.” So seize the day and then seize the opportunity to pursue your dreams for a better career and a better life in the 2012 job market! The timing couldn’t be better.

Why do I say 2012 appears to be a good year to make the move toward your dream job? Consider this:

  • Manpower’s most recent quarterly “Employment Outlook Survey” (December 13, 2012) says, “(2012 looks to be the) most promising U. S. hiring outlook since 2008.” (The survey was conducted among 18,000 employers.)
  • In parallel, 1.1 million people quit their job last month to head to another—the most in a decade. This is what we “headhunters” call “the churn.” That means, in part, that job openings are plentiful, but not because of additional positions being created, but rather, because of “the churn.”

So, if you are ready to make the leap to your dream job in 2012, here are the seven New Year’s resolutions I suggest you make (and keep!):

1.  Brand yourself as someone who can make a company money, save a company money, or both.

Like it or not, companies are not in the business of hiring people! Never have been, never will be. They are in the business of making money. If they can make money without hiring you (or anyone else!), be assured that they will. Instead, they may use their money for increased automation, improved technology, leaner manufacturing, streamlined processes, etc., etc.

Here is what a vice president of a $60 billion firm recently told one of the recruiters in our executive recruiting firm:

“There are only two types of people. Those who make you money and those you have to pay for. We want to hire the first type and get rid of the rest.”

Brutal? You bet, but that’s still the way it works in business today! Or, let me put it another way: That’s the way it better work in business today or the company simply will be out of business!

What are the implications for you, the job hunter? Go back over the last, say, five to ten years of your career, identify and then quantify the monetary contributions you have made for your current company, i.e., how you have saved the company money, made the company money (or both). Articulate the results in dollars, numbers and percentages. If there is no easy, efficient way for you to reconstruct this information, then you absolutely need to start “keeping score” today, right now!

2.  Define, specifically, both what it is you are interested in and what you’re good at.

Many of us spend far too many hours at work not to enjoy what we do. Nonetheless, that still is definitely the case with millions of the currently employed. Therefore, to begin your move toward your dream job, first determine, specifically, what it is you are most interested in doing on a new job. Chances are, that probably will also be the thing you are best at doing! But remember, just being interested in something won’t get you where you want to go. You definitely have to be good at it or no company will pay you to do it!

Next, you will want to define, in writing, your strategic objective. (Usually, just the mere act of putting something in writing makes it more “real” and better focuses one’s attention to it.) For the sake of illustration, let me give you examples of the strategic objectives formulated and used by three candidates who were recently successful in landing their new dream jobs!:

3.  Create an inbound marketing plan.

To land your dream job in 2012 you must be both findable and relevant. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you always have to go looking for a new job. With an effective, well-designed inbound marketing plan, you can literally have potential employers (and “headhunters,” corporate recruiters, et al.) coming to you!

In the “old” job market, the adage used to be, “It is not what you know but who you know.” In today’s new job market, that adage has morphed into this: “It is not just what you know, or even who you know. It’s who knows you and can you be found—and are you relevant to their hiring needs?” (See bullet number 1.)

You might be surprised to learn that, despite the constant “doom and gloom” emanating from the media, many companies today are having difficulty filling key positions, and have been for quite some time now. If you are like most people with jobs today you probably don’t have the time to actively look for a new one. However, you must at least take the time to position (brand) yourself as findable and relevant if you want to successfully land your dream job in the new year.

How do you begin building your inbound marketing plan? As an absolute minimum you need to make sure you have a strong presence on these sites:

Why these sites in particular? “Headhunters” (as well as corporate recruiters and others in the employment industries) visit these site every single business day in their constant search for new, top job talent!

4.  Build strong relationships with “headhunters” in your professional niche NOW!

Remember, the time to think about filling a well is not when you are about to run out of water, or even worse, when you have actually run out of water! This same principle strongly applies to the job market, especially today’s job market. Don’t wait until you are about to lose your present job, or—far worse!—until you have actually lost it, to think about your next career move. This is where a good, reliable “headhunter” comes in. I suggest that you establish professional relationships with three to four “headhunters” in your professional niche at the earliest opportunity. (How about today?!)

(Check out these three links to learn more about how to work with a “headhunter,” as well as what he/she can do for you: Branding Yourself to be ‘Headhunted’; Want to be ‘Headhunted’? Here’s How!; and Becoming Part of a ‘Headhunter’s’ ‘Inner Circle.’)

While it’s true that only three percent of all jobs are filled by “headhunters,” it’s significant to note that “headhunters” also know about the “sweetest” opportunities in the marketplace, as well as many career opportunities that are never advertised—anywhere! Whom are we going to call first about these opportunities? The people we know and those with whom we have an ongoing professional relationship!

Of course this “resolution” also becomes part of your inbound marketing plan.

Remember this: The odds of your calling a “headhunter” and he or she having that perfect opportunity available when you call are really quite low. Therefore, it is crucial that you start building an ongoing professional relationship NOW with recruiters in your niche so that they will know about you and will proactively call you.

5.  Become visibly involved within your industry and/or professional specialty.

Now is not the time for staying “hunkered down”! It is critical today for you to achieve maximum visibility within your industry and/or professional specialty! Become a “hub,” an industry expert, the “go-to” person in your professional circle. Join organizations within your professional specialty. Become an active participant in appropriate LinkedIn groups.

If a company is looking to replace its vice president, are they going to advertise the position? NO! If you are branding yourself as a highly visible, impactful, contributing member of your profession, YOU will be among the ones directly contacted by the hiring manager, the corporate recruiter or the “headhunter” for that “once in a lifetime” opportunity.

6.  Do not continue think (and believe!) that pre-recession career/job hunting methods will work in 2012.

As I point out in “‘Headhunter’ Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever!, the “old” rules of the hiring game—and that’s how you need to look at hiring, as a “game”!—are no longer applicable in today’s challenging job market. The fact of the matter is, in today’s job market there really are two sets of rules: The rules companies want you to think you have to play by (which benefit only the companies); and, the new rules that you need to play by if you want to land your dream job!

(Each week, in this blog, http://www.personalbrandingblog.com/author/skip-freeman, I keep you up-to-date on what works in the current job market. How do I know? As a “headhunter” I am in the job market each and every business day, so I know what actually works, as well as what clearly does not work!)

7.  Enter 2012 with the full realization that company loyalty no longer exists (if indeed it ever really did!).

Company loyalty to employees is long gone, if it ever genuinely existed at all. Companies today really don’t care if you are on the unemployment line. They really don’t care if you and your family have health insurance. They really don’t care if you can feed, clothe and house your family. Sad, perhaps, but nonetheless true. So, look at it this way, keeping an eye open for better career opportunities for yourself really is no different from the company keeping an eye on its bottom line and determining, each and every month, whether you are worth it to them to keep you on the payroll. Doesn’t make any difference how long you have been on the job, or what your position within the company may be!

Don’t you be lulled into a false sense of security on your present job. Don’t you believe that you simply are part of some big, happy “family” at work. Don’t you believe, for even a second, that your current position is “safe and secure.” It’s not! If you want to find a “company” that you can be loyal to, here is one: Yourself!

And, finally, if you have a few minutes and would like to be entertained, grab a cup of coffee (or your favorite beverage) and click on the link below to view my SlideRocket® presentation on how you can effectively go about making your dream job a reality in 2012.



Skip Freeman is the author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever! and is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The HTW Group (Hire to Win), an Atlanta, GA, Metropolitan Area Executive Search Firm. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.