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Talent Talk: Looking for a New Job in 2021? Follow These Simple Steps for Success

Image: Magann /Adobe Stock open road with new job
Historically, job applications increase 60% from December to January, so start applying for open positions now. Being ahead of the pack can nearly double the chances of your resume getting noticed.

As everyone knows, the COVID-19-ravaged US economy has bounced back significantly, but there are still plenty of folks who were displaced. There are even more who may not be in the best situation but were not about to make a change in that uncertain climate. If you are seriously considering a job change in 2021, here are some actions you should consider.

First, start applying for open positions now. Historically, job applications increase 60% from December to January. The reasons are obvious, as the second half of December brings the holidays, increased time off work, travel, and time with family. You can use this to your advantage by applying before everyone else gets the same idea. Just this one action can nearly double your chances of getting noticed. Do not worry that a company might ask you to interview on a holiday — they won’t.

Surveys of job seekers typically show the number-one cause of frustration is that they apply for positions but do not hear back from the company. It could be that their application is being scanned either by an ATS software program or an inexperienced intern — in either case, they are looking for keywords or job descriptions. Make sure you mirror the job ad or description and use common keywords. For example, say you worked at General Motors for five years and Toyota for five years, but the software or internal recruiter is looking for the keywords “automotive” or “car”? If your job description is not an industry standard, it is okay to change it on the resume for purposes of clarity.

Another reason your resume might be rejected before it gets into the hands of a decision maker is because it contains typographical or grammatical errors. For many in the HR world, this is unacceptable on its face. Even one typo can get your resume tossed, so double and triple check that.

Resumes where someone cannot easily determine if you are qualified for a position can irritate the reviewer and may land you in the “no” stack. This could be something as simple as the resume being too long and wordy. Is it possible that the resume is too short? Yes, but for every one that is too short there are 20 that are too long. One page for every 10 years’ experience is a good rule of thumb, with a three-page maximum. If you have gaps in your resume, be sure to explain those.

A brief cover letter is a good idea for a couple of reasons. You can summarize your background so that the reader can begin to see your qualifications for the role even before they get to the resume. It also makes it clear that you applied for this position with purpose and are not just taking a shotgun approach. It takes some effort to customize your application, but it will make you stand out.

Try these simple steps if you are looking for a new position and I believe you will see an increase in potential opportunities to explore.


About the author

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at

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