The rules for job searching are different in January

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It’s the busiest time of the year for job searches. This is how to get ahead of the competition.

The holiday decorations from your cubicle are tucked into the bottom of your junk drawer and fond memories from a whirlwind month of December have begun to fade; you’re back into a work routine.

Conference call invites begin to bombard in your inbox; you’re reduced to eating lunch at your desk; you’re hating on your commute again. The same pit-in-the-stomach feeling that beckoned you to look for a new job before Thanksgiving—then temporarily subsided amid the holiday chaos—has re-emerged.

Oh, and your paycheck? Well, it’ll be brining you less joy this year. A recent study by the Hay Group division of Korn Ferry revealed that global employees’ real wage increase will average a measly 1.5%, down from 2017’s prediction of 2.3% and 2016’s prediction of 2.5%.

There’s no ignoring it now. It’s like someone yelling on speakerphone, and there are no more distractions to put it on mute: You’ve got to find a better job. Not only will it lift your spirits, switching jobs is also one of the quickest ways to get a larger paycheck.

The good news is that the jobs are out there. The bad news is that you’ve got some competition: January marks the busiest job search month of the entire year.

The right time is right now

Last year, the top job search day was January 4, with six out of the top 10 search days of 2017 occurring in January (the other four days were in February). It’s apparent that a lot of people equate a new year with a new career.

Don’t let this data discourage you from applying—but do use it to develop a job-search strategy. The more things are in your control, the better you’ll feel about your job search.

Send your resume soon(er)

Generally you should apply to a job by close of business the day you see the listing—but this month, try to get your materials in within the hour of seeing the listing. Stressed? Don’t be. Take a breath.

One part of the job search that you can control is your application materials. Recruiters review resumes upon submission, and if you postpone your submission in order to create the ultimate cover letter or update your resume, you’re potentially losing out on an opportunity. This is always true, but it’s especially true in times of high application volume (like now). If you wait to apply, your prospective employer may be already in the midst of the interviewing process by the time you apply. Don’t delay when you see a job listing you like; you snooze, you lose.

Assume the recruiter is actively looking to fill the role; and take that same fervor to fuel your search as you pursue new opportunities. Make sure your resume and cover letter reflect your most recent accomplishments, promotions, and skills.

Be on auto alert

Another thing you can control is your stress level. Get the jobs to come to you by signing up for new job alerts so you don’t have to fear you’re missing something good. (Plus that way you don’t have to fret about getting caught job searching during the day on your work computer and having an awkward convo with your boss or coworker.)

Good luck out there!

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