The New Year is just around the corner, but why wait for 2016 to begin your job search? The holidays are actually a great time to flex those opportunity-seeking muscles and become a better job candidate.

You’ll undoubtedly be attending holiday parties, and these social gatherings are the ideal place to either grow your professional network, or ask friends and family if they’ve heard of any opportunities you might be interested in.

As for New Year’s resolutions, you may want to focus on what comes after getting that initial bite on your resume. Navigating the hiring process can be a tricky thing, so consider spending 2016 making yourself a more attractive job candidate to interested employers.

Gain valuable job skills

Learning a new job skill isn’t just about putting another line on your resume, it also shows employers you take initiative and are capable of learning something new.

Start your skill-building effort by looking at the job descriptions of positions you would like to apply for. Once you have determined the skill you would like to learn, take an honest assessment of your capacity to acquire that skill. Many of us would love to become a professional baseball player, but hitting a 95 mph fastball probably isn’t something you can just pick up.

There are a number of education options you can pursue once you’ve decided on the skill you want to learn. These options include apprenticeship programs, online classes, adult education, certification programs, military service and formal education.

If you do decide to gain skills through formal education like college classes, investigate how much of a commitment it requires – both financially and time-wise. Also, figure out what skills you are actually going to walk out of a classroom with.

Step up your social media game

Making yourself more attractive is all about building up your value, and another way to do that is to gain followers and experience on social media.

Think about what you want your personal brand to be: authoritative, jovial, collaborative, informative, and so on. It should be a natural extension of your own personality, so if you’re not an expert in your field, don’t go on Twitter pretending to be one. However, do follow industry thought leaders and connect with professionals on LinkedIn who you can learn more about your field from.

The best way to learn social media is to dive in head first. Post interesting observations and materials relevant to both your online identity and your industry. Follow people in your field and engage them in conversation.

Whatever you do, resist the urge to be negative, controversial or inappropriate. The unsavory things we say online have a way of coming back to haunt us.

Work on your interview presentation

One more way to make yourself more attractive to potential employers is to refine your interview performance. Work with a colleague or trusted friend to improve on everything from your posture, to your handshake, to your stories about past employers. The best way to avoid interview anxiety is with preparation and practice, practice, practice.

At Cornerstone, we want to wish you and your family a Happy and Healthy New Year. If you’re interested in discussing the opportunities we have in store for 2016, feel free to contact us today!

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