86% of employees are currently looking for a new position. January is the busiest month of the year for job hunting and securing a new job is the one of the most popular new years resolutions (along with diet and exercise – currently on my list too).

To ensure a successful job search and get the most out of your time, you need to plan and track your activity.

We all start the year full of energy and activity and it can be easy to lose track of what roles you have applied for, which companies you have applied to, who you have spoken to, what agencies you have used, what was discussed and which version of your resume they have. You also want to make sure you are covering all basis with regards to your search. Who in your network should you approach, which agencies should you use, who are your target companies and what job sites should you check. Also spend time giving some thought to your next role, why are you wanting to leave your current position and what role are you looking for. Are you able to articulate your experience to date and what you are wanting next?

We always recommend setting up a tracking system that works for you, normally excel will suffice. Make headings of the various categories mentioned above and make sure you keep it up to date. This way you are also being proactive and can set reminders to chase your contacts and are also across exactly where you are with the various search processes. Set time aside twice a week to check the various job sites for any new roles and don’t leave it too late to apply. If they find the right candidate early or have a huge response, they can close the role before the application deadline, so don’t rely on this. Always tailor your cover letter to the role, making sure you align it to the job specification and highlight how your experience is a match and your motivations.

Before you start, ensure your resume and LinkedIn profile are up to date and read well, run these by someone you trust for their input. If you are currently not working, I never recommend putting “Looking for new opportunities” or the like, on your profile. Unfortunately, this can come across as you not being able to secure another role and a bit desperate. Rather leave your old employers details there until you update it with a new role. Another alternative is to open your own company, it is easy to set up an ABN number and consult under this to bridge the gap. When you see a role that interests you, read the whole advert/job specification. Most candidates scan these and only read the beginning missing key points about skills required and information about responsibilities of the role. It is also advisable to understand current market salaries. You can easily discount yourself if you position yourself too high or too low for a particular opportunity. Speak to a number of agencies and your network to get a balanced view of the market before you pitch yourself.

First impressions count, so it is important to have your elevator pitch ready for any phone calls and ensure you are dressed professionally and can articulate your experience to date when meeting anyone face to face. Understand the role you are applying for and be able to provide examples from your background to demonstrate your experience. Remember, a suit is safest! No technology, ever, in an interview and always prepare some questions in advance about the role and the particular business.

Good luck and happy hunting!