New Year, new career? Five steps to success

The start of a new year brings with it fresh beginnings, making it one of the most popular times of the year to look for a new job. With school leavers, recent graduates, and people who have made a career change adopting job-hunting as a new year’s resolution, recruiters are always kept busy during January. 

Here are some ways that you can stand out if you’re looking for a new career: 

1. Spruce up your CV and professional profiles

Your CV will determine whether a recruiter will call you in for an interview or not, so make sure it’s perfect. A good CV is concise, up to date, and professional. You should also consider customising it slightly for each job you apply for to highlight the skills or experiences that are most appropriate for the role. 

Recruiters will see spelling or grammar errors as a reflection of a lack of professionalism and attention to detail on your part. If you are not confident about your own language skills, ask someone else to proof your CV and cover letters. Also, update your online profile on LinkedIn as well as any personal websites you use to market yourself. 

2. Do some research

Before you start searching for a new job, do some research about the job opportunities in the market that fit your aspirations.  

  • Is there a demand for the skills you can offer?   
  • Which companies are hiring?
  • What company has the sort of culture and working environment in which you aspire to work? 

Look at what customers on social media have to say about a company where you might be interested in working. Reading its financial results can tell you if the company is growing or struggling. A general Google search can help you understand opportunities and challenges in your industry. 

3. Get out there and let people know that you're looking

The next step is to market yourself. You should sign up with an online career portal such as Sage SkillsMap, where you can receive updates for the latest jobs and make your CV searchable for recruiters. You can keep your CV and personal details hidden if you don’t want your boss to know you’re looking. 


  • Speak to trusted people in your professional network and let them know you're interested in a change.
  • Connect with people in your industry on LinkedIn; send your CV to recruitment agencies that work in your space.
  • Email the heads of recruitment at companies that recruit people with your skills and profile to find out if they're recruiting.
  • Apply for relevant jobs when you see them advertised. 

4. Remember that the right job is out there

It can be discouraging when you don’t get a reply for a job you applied for, or when a job goes to someone else after you thought the interview went well. Remember that most people need to go for a few interviews before they land the job of their dreams. 

The economy is tight and there’s a lot of competition, so you may need a bit of time to secure the right opportunity. The time will depend on how much demand there is for your skills and how well your industry and profession are doing. 

If you get no replies or outright rejections when you apply for a job, you should ask why. Is it because you're positioning yourself incorrectly, or because you're not effectively communicating your skills and experience? Speaking to a recruitment agency may offer you some insight into the mistakes you're making. 

If you get as far as a first or second interview, you may politely ask for feedback about why you weren't chosen. You can often learn something that will help you impress the next person who interviews you. 

5. Impress the interviewer 

When you get an interview opportunity: 

  • Walk in prepared. That means thinking through some of the questions the interviewer may ask and preparing the answers.
  • Be ready to ask some questions of your own to demonstrate your interest in the job.
  • On the day, be sure that you're dressed neatly and appropriately - and rather risk being overdressed than underdressed.
  • Make sure you know your route, the interview venue, and leave early to ensure that you arrive on time. 

Heidi Duvenhage is Head: Sage Talent Solutions

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