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Career Coach

New career strategies for a new year

About the author

Elizabeth is a freelance writer in California and a former Career Q&A columnist for the Wall Street Journal.

Don't get left behind in the new year. (Thinkstock)

Don't get left behind in the new year. (Thinkstock)

Along with the perennial pledges of “lose weight” and “eat healthier” many people’s New Year’s resolution lists include getting a better job or advancing their career. But just like losing that weight, this is often easier said than done.

Career Coach turned to experts to find out what jobseekers — and anyone looking to better their career — should be doing as we move into 2014.

Smile —  you’re on camera

“Get comfortable in front of the camera,” advised Adam Lloyd, president of Tampa-based global executive search firm Webber Kerr Associates.

“Organisations, especially multinationals with global offices, are including video technology in their interviewing process.” While technology hasn’t replaced in-person meetings or phone discussions, videos have become a common supplement, according to Lloyd, who recently set up a video conference to interview candidates in front of hiring managers in the UK, Australia and the US. “Candidates [who] can engage and portray confidence and comfort on this platform will have a leg up.”

The camera isn’t only limited to interviews. Your resume should also be multimedia, according to San Francisco-based Christine Bronstein, founder of women’s networking group A Band of Women.

For jobseekers in public relations, advertising or marketing, a video resume is becoming par for the course, according to Steven Yeong, founder of Singapore-based recruitment company Hof Consulting. “Candidates should start thinking about using online video resume websites to craft a one to two-minute video on their skills and what they bring to the table,” he wrote in an email.

Embrace social media — especially internationally

Creating a strong presence on business social networking sites such as LinkedIn or XING is an obvious strategy in many parts of the world, but that is not the case in some parts of Asia, according to Hof Consulting’s Yeong.

“Some [candidates] feel that they wish to protect their privacy,” he wrote. “But they are missing out on potential job opportunities.” Yeong recommends that job candidates take more of a “self-service” approach by using social media as much as possible. Many firms in Asia now have in-house recruiters and LinkedIn is the best way to reach them, he said.

The same is true in India, according to Akanksha Malik, a freelance training and recruitment specialist based in Gurgaon, India. Many people there are not yet on LinkedIn — but should be, she said.

“[In the past] there were many jobs and less talent so candidates would get headhunted, and most jobs were released to job consultants and they would find talent,” she wrote in an email. “Now the market is reversed… so talent needs to connect with the right opportunity and be visible to be found.”

Rent a desk

Don’t allow yourself to become isolated at home while looking for a job. Instead, find ways to interact with people on a daily basis.

Rent a desk, suggested Elaine Varelas, managing partner at Boston-based career management firm Keystone Partners. Many start ups rent desk spaces in shared offices, and those relationships could become invaluable. It is a great way to meet others in a range of careers, there is rarely a long-term commitment and the cost is much lower than renting a more traditional office. For example, on the UK-based Office Genie website (which allows users to search for space by location or price), shared office desk spaces in London average around 350 pounds ($527) per month, a far cry from the thousands a traditional full office might cost.

“Find a few other people who are looking for a job and share the cost (with them) of renting a desk in this type of office,” wrote Varelas in an email. “You can meet a lot of new people working at start ups, and it gives you a great new way to network.”

Find the right balance of online and in-person networking, said A Band of Women’s Bronstein. “Only connecting online and not in person is a major mistake,’ she said. 

Right in your own backyard

Many jobseekers focus on adding new names to their network and contact list, while neglecting the people they have met in the past. You don’t want to miss out on the people who know you best — or  the many contacts you have made over the years.

“Exploit the existing,” wrote Jorg Stegemann, managing director of Paris-based Kennedy Executive Search & Outplacement, in an email. Rather than saying, “I haven’t talked to my former boss in five years. I don’t want to bother him,” find a good excuse to give him or her a call or send an email, suggested Stegemann. “Don’t dismiss any contact. Every one is worthwhile."

Join and engage

It’s not enough to just create a profile and make connections, according to Dan Finnigan, CEO of Burlingame, California-based social recruitment software company Jobvite. “You have to do something with those connections. You can’t just connect with people and not do anything. No one’s getting to know you,” he said.

Finnigan gave the example of one of Jobvite’s own employees: Kenneth James Hamer. Two and a half years ago, Hamer was working from his home office on Vancouver Island, Canada, as a freelance designer. Active in social media circles, he decided to follow Patrick Neeman, the then-director of user experience at Jobvite. After a few tweets back and forth, Neeman asked Hamer whether he would be open to working on a couple of small projects and if he would send him his resume. Fast forward a few months and contract projects later, and Neeman offered Hamer a fulltime, permanent designer job at Jobvite.

“He was a no brainer for the job,” said Finnigan.

Career Coach is a twice-monthly column on BBC Capital in which we consider the career turning points and questions many professionals face. We welcome questions from readers at careercoach@bbc.com.

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