2020 has been extremely challenging. Most of us have had our professional, and personal lives turned upside down. Many people found looking for a new job frustrating, exhausting, and disheartening.

Finally, 2020 has been kicked to the curb. The holidays are behind us, and a brand-new year, full of possibilities, stretches before us.

If your goal is to get a new job in 2021, it’s time to get going. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Start today.

Get Your Career Marketing Tools Ready

#1 Make sure your resume is recruiter and employer ready. Your resume is often how hiring managers meet you. A boring list of duties and responsibilities is unlikely to motivate anyone to contact you.

People in similar positions do similar things. The best way to differentiate yourself is by demonstrating your value. And the way to do that is by creating a results-driven resume in a modern, easy-to-scan format.

#2 Complete your LinkedIn profile. Write that About section that you’ve meant to since you set up your profile. Instead of a boring 3rd person narrative, tell your career story.

What made you go into this field? Makes you proud? Brings you joy?

Write in the first person and show some personality. Fill out the employment section with more than just job titles.

#3 Get personal business cards for networking.  Don’t forget that many employers monitor employee’s email and search history. So use your personal email address for your job search.

A simple card with your name, contact information, and perhaps a brief blurb about what you do, is all you need. However, you can also include additional data, like a list of core skills, on the back.

Develop Your Strategy

How will you conduct your job search? Have you decided on a target salary? Do you know where you want to work?

#1 Create a list of target employers. Regularly review the career sections of their websites. Unless open positions are confidential, typically, when someone doesn’t know they’re leaving, companies post jobs on their sites.

Most companies also use social media to attract candidates. So follow your target employers on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Set up Google alerts for each company so you’ll be aware when they are in the news.

#2 Create a list of recruiters as well. Ask people in the industry who they recommend. Generally, employers hire  3rd party recruiters when the job is confidential or employers haven’t been able to fill the positions themselves.

Still, if you’re not changing careers or an early careerist, recruiters can be an asset. Never forget that the employer pays recruiters to find candidates. Recruiters don’t work for you.

#3 Spend some time researching job boards and decide which ones might work for you. While you shouldn’t rely on job boards, they can be one part of your job search plan. Continually monitor the career pages on your target companies’ web sites.

#4 Decide on your target salary. While it’s illegal in some states to ask candidates what they are making, you can still be asked for your expectations. Research the salary range for your target position with the understanding that where you fall into that range is based on your experience, training, maybe education, etc.

Only candidates who meet most, if not all, of the employer’s requirements will garner a salary at the top of the range. (For help preparing for the “salary” question, click here.)

#5 Let everyone in your extended circle – friends, family, former colleagues, former bosses, acquaintances, alumni, etc. – know you are looking. Instead of asking them to “keep their eyes open for you,” tell them the type of position you seek. For example, you’re looking for a job as director of marketing for a tech business or VP, operations for a pharma company.

Ask your circle who they know at your target employers. You may find your Aunt’s stylist’s sister works at your dream company.

#6 Develop a list of networking events. Many industries have national organizations with local chapters that hold monthly meetings. Join your university alumni association; many of them have events nationwide as well.

Networking events and conferences didn’t stop in 2020. They compensated by moving to virtual platforms.

Develop Your Job Search Plan

Before you actively begin looking, create a job search plan with daily, weekly, and monthly goals. The number of hours you can devote each week depends on whether you are currently working, if you’re working in an office or remotely, etc.

Career changers should set up a few informational interviews with people in their target role. Talking to people already in the position is the best way to learn the good, bad, and ugly about a job. Remember, informational interviews are not the time to ask for a job, but they are a great way to make connections.

Schedule some time each day or week to scan job boards and your target companies’ websites. Connect and engage with recruiters. Put some networking events on your calendar.

If you plan to find a new job this year, it’s time to get moving. January 2021 has already started. December will be here before you know it.

Good luck with your job search,


This post originally appeared on the career intelligence Resume Writing and Career Services blog.


  • Annette Richmond

    Career Storyteller, Personal Branding Strategist, Executive Resume Writer, Host of Smarter Career Moves podcast

    career intelligence Resume Writing and Career Services

    I landed in the career field after earning an MA in psychology. Before starting my resume writing business, I worked as a vocational counselor and contingency recruiter, launched and ran a career site, and taught writing and communications at local universities. In 2014, I decided to combine the skills I gained as a journalist and recruiter to launch career intelligence Resume Writing and Career Services. I have an eclectic taste when it comes to food and film, and love relaxing with friends and family, particularly my husband and our 2 four-legged kids, Katie and Emma.