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Well, the new year is officially here. While you may have quite a few things you want to knock off your bucket list, there is one that is slightly more important than the rest: getting a new job – specifically, being hired into a good position by an amazing company. That, of course, is easier said than done.

Whether you’re looking for your first job, trying to re-enter the workforce or just looking for a change, job hunting is rarely easy. The time and stress spent working and worrying about acquiring a new position can be overwhelming. However, just like with any other New Year’s resolution, the key to accomplishing your goal is having a clear plan.

With that in mind, we compiled a list to help you fulfill your 2018 career goals.

Tidy Up Your Résumé

You most likely have one, and it’s probably pretty nice, but that doesn’t mean your résumé is ready to send out to the furthest reaches of the internet. You should make sure it’s completely up to date and free of grammatical errors.

By now, you may have looked at it so many times that you, understandably, read right through any mistakes. An easy trick to avoid obvious errors is to ask someone else to read through it. They might be able to catch a misspelled word you’ve overlooked a hundred times.

Beyond just editing, you’ll need to adapt your résumé to the specific job you want. Research not only what résumés in your field look like but also what phrases and terms are most used. Be sure to use the correct format and vocabulary so others can easily recognize that you are familiar with, and knowledgeable of, that field.

Check Your Social Media Account

The next step is to review your social media accounts. All of them! “Social media is everything, not only for networking, but for representing your brand,” says Andy Cashin, director of Client Relations at Quicken Loans. Amazing candidates are passed up every day because their online personas don’t align with company values.

Because social media is one of the most important methods of communication, it can certainly be used to connect and grow your professional network. Here, recruiters can see your interests, hobbies and favorite hangouts. It’s just important to know where to draw the line. For a more comprehensive list of what are considered red flags for employers, check out this helpful graphic by The Muse.

Growing Your Network

This isn’t a skill that comes easily to most people. It is, however, inarguably important. A large percentage of people have found new jobs by networking or were aided in their search by the people they’d networked with. Start slowly, with the network you already have.

Friends, neighbors, college alumni – these people are often overlooked when they could be valuable resources. The more ears listening for good opportunities, the better, so spread the word that you’re looking for a new job.

You should also work to develop new contacts. There are countless opportunities, in person, on social media, professionally and personally. For some fantastic tips on networking, visit The Balance and learn how to grow your existing network.

Time to Research and Practice

For most of us, interviews can be both intimidating and challenging. This makes it even more important to come prepared. It’s vital to demonstrate that you care enough to fully research the company. Read through their website, look through their social media accounts and blogs, and read up on the news articles written about them.

“The more you know about the company, the better,” says Lisa Marra, divisional vice president of Client Relations at Quicken Loans. Her advice? “When interviewing, do research and know the company you are interviewing with,” she says. “That way, you can ask questions about their culture.” Come with written questions so that you can fully engage with your interviewer.

After a few good hours on Google, it’s time to start practicing. The internet has thousands of practice interview questions. Use them! Check sites like Monster for the most commonly asked questions during interviews. They even provide a number of articles on what interviewers are looking to learn when they ask specific questions and how best to respond.

Be Professional, but Be Yourself

You want to be prepared but not too rehearsed. Danielle Finley, director of Talent Acquisition at Quicken Loans, gives her advice: “I would recommend to everyone that they be themselves when interviewing. Your answers will be much more genuine and you have a much better chance of connecting with the hiring leader. If you can’t be yourself in an interview, then it’s probably not a job you should pursue!”

Say Thank You

Don’t forget to write a thank-you note (or email). In most cases, it’s the last point of contact – a personal touch that can easily set you apart from other strong candidates.

Whether you use all of these tips or none, make your plan and stick to it. Best of luck!

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