*TC This is the traditional month for coming to grips with the changes you want to make in your life. For the well employed, January is the best time to scope out the year ahead. And for the unemployed and unhappily employed, January is the best job-hunting month. Here are a few resolutions to aim at.
Get a job
Make a list of three job search channels you haven't tried. Job fairs are for workers of all ages; think of each encounter as a screening interview and follow up with a letter and telephone call. Industry trade journals -- even old ones -- give clues as to who typically hires people in your line of work.
In answering newspaper recruitment ads, try sending a series of four response letters. Make three photocopies of your original letter. Mail them a week apart. In blue ink, mark the top of each photocopy, "second submission," "third submission" and "fourth submission." Add a handwritten comment about what a good match you are for the advertised job and say you hope to have an interview soon. On the final letter, say that even if the job is filled, you'd like to meet for future needs.
Target new networks if you've exhausted the old ones, do a library literature search on your industry for missed leads, and check directories of associations for overlooked groups. Discover your industry's major meetings and figure out ways to attend.
This year's crop of June college graduates may need a chiropractor to straighten necks bent back from looking straight up the sheer employment cliffs to be climbed. The remedy: Become as familiar as the furniture at your college's career services office, learn from the staff and aggressively seek employment starting now. Waiting for recruiters to find you insults your intelligence.
If you have not kept an achievement notebook with everything you've done for your company, start right now. Your notebook contains the raw diamonds that when polished will glitter on resumes. A current resume not only avoids the week or two of delay when a job opening turns up but helps you evaluate your job mission and progress.
Can you write a cogent business letter or report? Community colleges offer basic business writing courses. Can you make a standout presentation? Try community colleges, how-to books and Toastmaster clubs. Can you stand improvement in computer skills? Again, community colleges to the rescue. Can your business knowledge use a lift? Subscribe to a new magazine you select after a Saturday afternoon at the library.
Go for a raise
The achievements notebook used for resume writing doubles as ammunition for a raise, even in these times. Hone negotiating skills by reading books on the issue, then practice before bearding the keeper of the treasury.
Look into educational and training programs that can improve your job skills.
When you're overloaded, consider trying for alternate work schedules. Flextime, part-time, job sharing and telecommuting are solutions for workers who want more of a balance between their careers and their roles as mothers and fathers.
Scratch the itch
If changing employers is the way you hope to begin the new year, make a list of the factors that rub you the wrong way in your current job so you don't repeat them. Make a written plan of action, including finances, and tune up your contacts network.