If your goal is to get a new job in the New Year, here are eight “prep steps” to get you started:

1. Update your resume. While your resume should be customized for a specific job, having an up-to-date resume targeted for a specific type of position is the next best thing. So, if you’ve taken on extra responsibilities in your current job, changed your job goal, or have earned new certifications or educational credentials, now is the time to add this content to your resume. It’s good to get the content “out of your brain and onto the paper” while it’s fresh in your mind. You can always edit your resume later, for a specific opportunity.

2. Develop or update your LinkedIn profile. A LinkedIn profile doesn’t replace your resume; rather, it complements it. Hiring managers seeking candidates with your skills and expertise might search on LinkedIn and find your profile. As well, someone in your network can easily forward your LinkedIn URL when referring you to a hiring manager. Be sure your LinkedIn profile is complete AND up-to-date.

3. Conduct salary research to know what you’re worth. One of the most common reasons people consider job changes is for a salary increase. But how do you know what you’re worth? Check out www.jobsearchintelligence.com and www.Glassdoor.com to see how your current salary and benefits stack up, so that you’ll have a baseline for negotiating your next offer.

4. Build your network. It is estimated that 40-80% of jobs are found through networking with professional and personal connections. Networking isn’t just about who YOU know; it’s about who your CONTACTS know. Many times, it’s the friend of a colleague who can help you land your dream job. One of my clients had a goal to reach 500 connections on her LinkedIn profile. Shortly after that happened, a recruiter she had never met arranged an interview for her in her niche and she is close to negotiating an offer.

5. Manage your online reputation. More and more, hiring managers are checking you out online before they interview you. What will they find when they type your name into Google? How about Facebook or Twitter? Now is the time to clean up your online profiles. Delete any postings hinting about complaints with your current job or employer.

6. Define your ideal job. “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” This famous quote from Yogi Berra is important to remember in your job search. If you don’t know what your ideal job looks like, how will you recognize it when it comes? What job titles fit you? What tasks do you enjoy doing? Do you want to work alone, on a team, or both? Do you like short- or long-term projects? Answer these questions to start defining your ideal job.

7. Create a target list of companies you’d like to work for. Like your ideal job, you probably prefer a certain type of organization as an employer. Things to consider are: company size, industry, workplace culture, location, and structure, e.g., public, private, family-owned, franchise, nonprofit, etc. Once you’ve made your list, look for companies that fit your criteria.

8. Decide if you need help with your career plans. While the steps above seem simple enough, you might be feeling stuck on one or more of them, which could be blocking your progress. If so, feel free to <request a private call with me>. We’ll discuss your situation in more detail and determine what the next steps are, so that you can finally land an ideal job that is both fulfilling AND financially-rewarding!

© Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach 2015 www.career-success-coach.com