Countdown to a New Year, New You

Hello job seekers! I’m Amanda Augustine, Job Search Expert for TheLadders, where your career is our job.™ For almost a decade, it has been my passion to educate professionals on the job-search process. It may sound cliché, but I truly enjoy teaching people the “tricks of the trade” to land them the job they want. I’ve done everything from one-on-one career coaching, to hosting networking mixers with job seekers and recruiters, to giving presentations and speaking on panels to groups of professionals looking to make a career change.

Each week, I answer your toughest job-search questions in my Ask Amanda column, on The Career Chronicles blog. Have a question for me? Submit your question here for a chance to have it answered in my weekly column, and be sure to follow @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter and Like me on Facebook for up-to-the-minute job-search advice.

With December now underway, I want to thank everyone for the questions submitted to Ask Amanda over the last few months. You’ve given me a lot of great topics to address each week in The Career Chronicles and on Twitter.

Can you believe that there are only five weeks left till 2013? Where did the year go?!

As we count down to the New Year, I want to respond to those of you out there who’ve asked me what you could be doing to improve your odds for success in the job search.

Have you noticed how just about everything in our world has gone mobile? You can deposit your checks without going to the bank, chat face-to-face with loved ones far away, and read books and magazines on the go without harming a single tree. Even the most bricks-and-mortar types of businesses have developed websites (and perhaps an app or two) to compete in today’s market.

Similarly, the recruiting process has become more mobile. Job seekers must embrace these changes or get lost in the crowd.

From now until the end of the year, I will dedicate each Ask Amanda article to a new tip to help you compete in this mobilized job search. Each week you’ll have a new assignment to prepare you to ring in the New Year ready for that new career.

Think of it as your job-search makeover with a digital twist.

By the time January rolls around, you’ll be well on your way to nabbing that dream job!

Look the Part
Invest in your image on and offline with a budget-conscious haircut, updated clothes, makeup, and a professional head shot for your online profiles.

Since we’re only on week one of this countdown to the New Year, New You, I want to start with something fun. This week I want you to go shopping for your personal brand.

That’s right, you heard me -- shopping. Sure, you can tell your significant other that Amanda made you do it. And for those of you with tight budgets, I’ll show you ways to invest in your brand without breaking the bank.

In all seriousness, to be successful in the job search you have to look and feel your best. Isn’t it easier to put yourself out there to network and interview when you’re feeling good about how you look?

And while it’s not fair, experts agree that a person’s appearance can affect the outcome of one’s job search and potential for advancement in the workplace. Your personal grooming, professional wardrobe – even your haircut – play a role in your personal brand.

Here are 3 ways to upgrade your look to improve your brand – on and offline.

Get Groomed
Invest in a professional haircut and other grooming services such as waxing, makeup for the ladies, and a professional shave for the gentlemen. Look on Groupon or LivingSocial for daily deals on these types of services. Often, salons will offer free or discounted cuts for their academies, such as Aveda or Vidal Sassoon. Unless you’re in a highly creative field, stick to a more traditional haircut style. Ladies can take advantage of the cosmetics counter at the nearest department store or Sephora location for a free makeover. You may be guilted into buying a lipstick, but overall it will be great deal.

Get Tailored
During this holiday season most of you will be out and about buying presents for your loved ones. Put yourself on the list this year. Take advantage of the holiday sales to update your job-search wardrobe and accessories. Use sites like Deal News to find the best promotions, and shop sites like Overstock for discounted products. I am a big fan of Marshalls and TJ Maxx for great deals on high-quality clothing and accessories. Is your family nagging you for gift ideas? Scope out the stores and ask for specific items or gift cards to boost your job-search attire.

Get a Glamour Shot
Did you know that your LinkedIn profile is 40% more likely to be clicked on if you have a photo? But not just any photo. This image needs to be professional, friendly, and in alignment with your personal brand. The webcam shot is not going to score you any points with prospective employers. And while you have a great family and your dog is adorable, neither of these images belongs in your profile picture.

If you’re thinking about getting a family portrait taken at the local mall, ask if they could throw in a head shot of you as well. Sears, jcp, and Walmart are offering discounts on portraits between now and December 31. Really strapped for cash? Ask the photographer at the holiday event or wedding you’re attending to take a shot of you. Just make sure your attire and the background are suitable for your professional image.

With a small investment you can boost your self-esteem and personal image for the job search, so give these tips a try this week. Next week, we’ll talk about making your professional resume mobile.

Amanda Augustine is the Job Search Expert for
TheLadders, the online job-matching service for career-driven professionals. She is a Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC) and Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) who provides job search and career guidance for professionals looking to make their next career move. Have a question for Amanda? Submit your question here for a chance to have it answered in her weekly column, and be sure to follow @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter and "Like” her on Facebook for up-to-the-minute job-search advice.

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