Just as gyms enjoy an influx of new members looking to reinvent their bodies in January, the start of a new year often sparks a desire for a career detox.
Experts say that January is the prime time for candidates seeking a new direction.
“I think this is simply down to one thing. It is the old cliché “new year, new me, new start” says Laura Hayward, associate director at Sellick Partnership, a Manchester-headquartered professional services recruitment specialist.
“January is the busiest time for new gym memberships, and it’s the same principle with job hunting.
“We speak to candidates every year and they always tell us the same thing.
“They have had a bad year, or they want to further their career, and they think that January is the best time to do it.”
Time out over the festive period often gives those who have found their jobs toxic for some months the impetus to finally take action, explains life coach Elizabeth Guest of Cheshire-based Forward and Through Progressive Counselling and Coaching.
“There’s that turning over a new leaf sensation that everyone gets in January.
Many people take two weeks off over Christmas and just two weeks’ down time is enough to give people a chance to step away and gain a new outlook.
“Many people may have been considering a career change for some time but will put up with being unhappy so they can get through Christmas. The new year, or in this case, a new decade, then spurs people to take action.”
For those seeking a dramatic change of direction, Guest proposes asking the following questions.
“I would suggest writing down a list of the qualities of the people that you’d like to work with. Write down what’s important to you in a job – not just the pay and the pension – but the environment, the culture and philosophy.
“I have had one client move from a workplace that was competitive and where people were micromanaged, to an identical job but where the environment was very inclusive and autonomous.
“While she hasn’t been promoted that change has been wonderful for her.”
Although recruitment budgets are often signed off for new roles starting in January, Hayward warns that recruitment has often commenced in December.
“January is really busy, but historically our busiest month is always December.
“I therefore feel that some great candidates miss the boat by starting to look in January. Of course, there will still be an increase in the number of jobs available but in our markets the best jobs, with some of the most prominent companies, are almost always already filled before the ‘January rush’.”
However, for those starting the search in January, there’s much that can be done to enhance chances of success.
It’s no longer enough to have a killer CV and references. In 2020, personal brand is more important than ever before.
“My biggest piece of advice is to make sure that all the elements of that brand are as perfect as they can be,” advises Hayward.
“For example, I always Google a candidate before I contact them, so if I find anything negative, it usually puts me off from the outset. I would therefore advise candidates to Google themselves and see what comes up.
“I would also say that it is important to make social media profiles private and remove anything that may be seen as controversial.
“Getting a job is all about making yourself employable, so taking away anything that may be seen as a negative is a good way of getting noticed for the right reasons.
“LinkedIn is also becoming a very useful tool and can often be a deciding factor for hiring managers when deciding between applicants.
“It is actually much easier for candidates to find roles they are suitable for these days. Yes, job boards were around 10 years ago, but they were not as sophisticated as they are now. And these days with platforms like LinkedIn, candidates don’t even have to be looking for a job to be approached.”
Guest further advises candidates to take the initiative rather than wait to be approached, or for the perfect role to be posted.
“It’s now more common for candidates to contact a business and say ‘I’d really like to work in your company, is there a space for me?’ It’s about becoming proactive and taking control.”
As we move into 2020, Hayward believes that candidates will move even further into the recruitment driving seat and cautions companies to take note if they want to attract the best talent.
“I think candidates will become much pickier about the businesses they want to work for.
“We constantly have to deal with candidates not attending interviews because they have seen something negative about the company beforehand, and with websites such as Glassdoor this is going to continue.
“Companies really need to be careful about the way they are perceived and ensure they are doing all they can to attract candidates.
“They need to promote what differentiates them and offer candidates something that will entice them to attend an interview if they want to continue securing the best talent in 2020 and beyond.”