From the perspective of job seekers, the end and the beginning of the year is always a lull season. This is especially true in Asia where Christmas is followed by New Year and Chinese New Year. It’s hard to move hiring from Dec to end Feb. Consider the year-end parties, home break, then reluctant hiring managers coming back from holidays forced to complete tons of employee reviews for last year, some rushing for their own financial year end in January, February, March to make up for the slack during the hols – you get the picture.

So what should a job seeker do from now until March 2018 to get ready?


Here are some ideas.
  • Last week of December
    • Review your 2017! Find an evening or early morning to look at 2017. Did you do what you set out to do? If not, why? The real art of completing your goals is really to break it down into monthly, weekly and daily tasks. When I had my mentor coaching for 4 years, I did this consistently and when I missed the month, I know I need to compensate for it the following month. This way, you won’t get to the end of the year to realize that you didn’t complete anything.

      You need to be looking at it EVERYDAY if you really want to get to your goals. It requires a big WHY (see Simon Sinek’s book) as your motivation and discipline. You are never going to feel – “yes, today is the day I’m going to do XYZ! I’m going to be so different from yesterday!” because we are not wired to do things that are uncomfortable to us. In order to make a change, we have to quit waiting around for motivation or inspiration to strike. Read Mel Robbins on she moved herself to just do it.
    • It can be quite daunting thinking about the next couple of months and how the market may slow down, but keep your chin up and absorb as much information as possible, whether to self-help or gain awareness. We like Harvard Business Review, James Clear, or even Tech Crunch. They are informative and gives you a good insight into the industry to keep you in the know or simply to help you manage your career or even work environment.
    • Think about how you can stay ahead of the market and make yourself stand out from the hundreds of people applying for the same job. Do you do some freelance projects that are relevant to the job you are applying for? Write that in your CV. Do you visit specific websites and get involved in virtual scenarios on the web? Write that in your CV.
    • This goes back to the previous pointer. Have you considered doing up your own website? Consider this if you have projects to showcase and don’t want to clog up your CV with too much information. The month is coming to an end, the next few weeks might slow down, so you can buy a bit of time to consider doing this. Not only will you be more clear on what you have achieved, but you will also definitely stand out from the crowd.

  • January
    • Find your motivation, write your goals. It can be as no-frills as mine - using an excel sheet with your “Umbrella Goals” – for example: Be a better spouse, father, mother, employee, manager, earn more money, lose 10kg and look good etc. Break it down to 12 months – visualise how it will look in 12 months from January to December, bearing in mind holidays, commitments etc. I usually look at the 2018 calendar and have a sense of the travelling I have, what is realistic to achieve.

      The weekly ones become easier when I have the month planned out as I find those hardest. For daily goals, I plan every night what I need to do the next day, looking at the weekly “outcome” I want. I was that disciplined when I started out because I know I am not going back to corporate. But sometimes I slipped, sometimes I struggled but generally, I kicked myself back into my “commits” because aside for the horror of not achieving my goals, the near term motivation was that it was really embarrassing to write and tell my mentor I didn’t do what I said I will do. More ideas on making it stick – Point 4 and context of goal setting explained.
    • Brush up your CV – whether yours is fancy or old school, it is a “solution offering” aka YOU, to a problem (the purpose of having that role) so write about those. It doesn’t have to be lengthy but enough to what problems you solved, the context and the outcome of the situation. Having a long list of responsibilities doesn’t say much, most CVs are written that way for the same function.

      But the problems, context, outcome and your actions are unique. Spend some time thinking about it, you can ask your colleagues or ex bosses about your most valued achievements to get more ideas and keep that CV short and crisp, up to 3-4 pages max. Trust me, the average speed of a scan through is 3 seconds from the hiring manager and we have to call them to run it through to make the highlights stand out.
    • Brush up your LinkedIn profile – This one needs some finesse. You can’t put your CV on it but your profile has to have enough meat and not go overboard. This involves lots of thinking and writing in a condensed style. Don’t make it too overt else everyone knows you are on the lookout. We are going to do a course on this, so once the course is up, we will keep you in the loop and if you are keen to attend, let us know! Do also keep checking out our social pages (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook) to keep up with us.
    • Start scanning for open jobs, companies you like to follow whether on LinkedIn or job boards, and also get in touch with headhunters or friends/referrals/ex-colleagues. Do a little bit of networking. Start connecting with people, getting others to write your testimonials and speak to people to find out which company, which hiring manager is good or suit your working style. Keep tabs on them, get introduced and follow them for open jobs. Again, if you haven’t followed us on our website and LinkedIn, do it now! Get updates the moment new roles are posted.
  • February
    • This is the period where the hiring gets a little more urgent. Try to apply for jobs the moment they are out. This is because 90% of the recruiters are only working on urgent roles at any one time. So when it is published, it is usually urgent. Once the job is open for too long, chances are they have moved on to other urgent roles. Annoying habit and I can share why the next time so maybe you can cut them some slack. But “You’ve got to know” like Moody said in Harry Potter. So be vigilant and apply within the first week!
    • Celebrate Chinese New Year! Take a breather, spend time with your family.
    • Practice and prepare for what hiring managers are looking for and how to ace interview questions. See Part I and Part II of this series.
    • If you are currently unemployed, do go out to connect over the phone with people and get them to refer you to any positions you are suitable for. There’s no shame in that and look, nothing’s more important than to put food on the table.
  • March
    • It’s game time. You can only prep for so long, you can only get so many tips. Now’s the time to put yourself out there. This is not to say that you ONLY act now, or aggressively apply for jobs now, but generally speaking, you can expect to get more response now or you can expect there to be more openings after this period.
    • The job market is picking up now. Keep that in mind and just. go. for. it. If you haven’t found a job yet, we know how tough it has been. But be present, pick up calls, go for interviews to polish up your interviewing skills, be responsive to headhunters, recruiters, or networkers. When headhunters do drop you a call, give them as much relevant information as you can. This would ‘keep’ you in the game, because they know you, your work history, your motivations, your setbacks, and can represent you well before you get shortlisted from their client.
    • With all the following and catching up with different interviews, different people, and different companies be focused and keep a list of your most major to-dos. Have you heard about the Ivy Lee 100-year-old hack that still works? Read here

When all is said and done, remember that while the market generally slows down towards the end and the beginning of the year, there are still companies who are urgently looking to fill their headcounts. There are always exceptions to the rule with applying for jobs, getting your name out there, and networking, so keep an open mind and don’t feel like this setback of not being employed or looking for a career move will keep you in a stagnant place for a long time.

Chin up (read about failing and falling with grace here), don’t feel embarrassed, read our blog, continuously check our career page, follow our social pages (scroll up) and keep the high spirit going!

Written by Josephine Chia