How to Kick-Start Your Career as the Job Market Rebounds

It was just reported by Crain’s New York Business that, for the first time in 19 months, the jobless rate in New York City has fallen below 9 percent (granted, it was at 8.9% for December 2010 but still…) and the national rate was at 9.4%, the lowest it’s been in many months. While this is still not what we’d like the figure to be and the decrease may be due to some folks coming off unemployment, it also could indicate a slow recovery and a job market that’s opening back up again.

With the new year up and running, it’s vital that the unemployed, underemployed and unhappily employed take stock of where they are and make a plan for their career future. Whether you need a job or are in one but looking to make a move, now is the time to get going. Here are a few ways to kick-start your job search for 2011:

1. Widen your circle. Make it a goal to develop 3-5 new contacts a week, whether in person or online. Ask friends and colleagues to connect your with their friends and colleagues. Offer to buy someone a coffee or cocktail to chat with them about opportunities and get their advice. Reach out to folks in your industry or at the company you’d like to work at through social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. By the end of the first quarter, you’ll have at least 20-25 new contacts that could possibly help you land your next position.

2. Attend industry events. As companies start to recruit again, you want to be where they are. If possible, show up at career fairs, conferences (budget permitting) and networking events that could expose you to potential employers. Join professional organizations that host panels, get-togethers and workshops that will allow you to meet key people and learn more about your particular industry or the skills you need to develop in order to move up in your career.

3. Take part-time work. If you can’t get a full-time job or are thinking about switching careers in a tough job market, look into opportunities to freelance or moonlight (as long as it’s not against your company’s policy). It’s less expensive and less of a commitment for a company to hire independent contractors because it saves them the high costs of benefits and insurance they typically provide for full-time staffers. If you can get hired for a project or on a freelance basis and are able to prove your value, when a full-time position opens up, you’ll be the first person they’ll think of to fill it.

4. Stay positive. More than half of employers recently surveyed by CareerBuilder said they were in a better financial position today than they were a year ago.  It stands to reason that, as the economy begins to rebound, new job opportunities will become available for talented, resourceful people who take steps to stand out from the competition. It takes work and focus but, while success can be a process, it’s worth the wait if you can score a great position.

What’s your career plan for 2011? Share with us here, on Facebook or Twitter.

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